A personal view on being part of the UK

I was born in England. I grew up on the London/Essex border. My next-door neighbour came from Glasgow and once stayed round the corner from where I live now in Ibrox. That was only possible because of the creation of a single, borderless market on the largest island of this archipelago. I don’t have to justify my presence in Scotland (21 years next month) any more than he has to justify his in England, nor all the many Scots who spend at least part of their working lives down south.

Now I have neighbours from Poland and various other European countries. And many of my friends spend some of their working lives, or retired lives, in France, Spain, Romania and elsewhere. But this is only possible because of EU membership (or associate membership, where you play by the rules but can’t vote on them, like Norway).

Interchange allows us to celebrate the differences and similarities between one mongrel culture and another. It also gives us individual freedom. But this freedom of movement is not the default position of the developed world: I have no automatic right to work in America, let alone receive what passes for state benefits.

Leaving either the UK or the EU threatens the rights which Scottish people are used to casually exploiting. It could all work out if Scotland left the UK and the UK remained within the EU, not least because of the political will at most levels of society, but even if 100% of the people in Scotland and the rest of the UK petitioned them, we would have no legal influence over the vetoes which Spain, Belgium and Italy might, for whatever reason, choose to exercise. And if the UK left the EU, and even more if it left the EEA (which has to abide by most EU laws, despite the nonsense UKIP spout), a Scotland within the EU might, on a very real legal basis, find itself having to erect a fiscal and physical barrier with its majority trading partner.

I don’t want to break what isn’t broken. I want to reinforce and do running repairs, maybe take off layers and start again in places. But it will be so much more slow, painful and expensive to try and build something from scratch. Not impossible, but difficult and costly and fraught with uncertainty.

Which brings me back to the currency. I’m not overly emotionally attached to sterling, but it is useful to pay for purchases from suppliers in the same currency, without fees; it tends to cost more to make online purchases from abroad. And it’s nice to be able to use cash and cards without penalty when visiting other parts of the UK. I have friends who work in Europe (including Ireland) who manage two or more bank accounts, but it remains an administrative inconvenience. Those with savings would be much more likely to keep their deposits in rUK bank accounts and products in order to benefit from the deposit guarantee scheme and the like which would no longer operate in Scotland (meaning a bank collapsing might leave its customers with nothing), thereby reducing the working capital available to Scottish banks. Which all affects the poorest in Scotland more than the richest who will find it easier to move their money and, if necessary, themselves and whatever value is attached to them professionally (and I’m not talking just bankers but doctors, engineers and scientists etc.).

I’ve voted no. That does not make me anti-Scottish or an English quisling. I want Scotland to thrive in peace; I believe, on the basis of the best evidence available, that it is much more likely to do so as part of an evolving, devolving, quasi-federal UK than cut adrift as a small independent nation with no power to dictate terms to the EU, NATO or the remaining UK and no influence over international affairs which, like it or not, make the weather for us all.

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