Scotland: Urgent First Decisions If Yes Prevails

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Interesting column today from the Centre for Government and Leadership at Queen Mary University of London about decisions that will not wait for eighteen months of painstaking negotiations but must be made immediately, like Friday morning. Two excerpts:

After a “yes” vote, they (civil servants) will be working with the Bank of England to craft the precise wording of assurances given to the markets, in the hope of stemming both an outflow of funds from banks and bank accounts registered in Scotland and a run on sterling combined with a great sell-off of British government bonds. How far should they advise ministers and the governor of the Bank to go? In the interests of Scotland, of course, it would be best for the UK to give an open-ended guarantee of the value of deposits in Scottish banks. But the markets might test such a commitment very quickly. Is that really in the interests of English, Welsh and Northern Irish UK citizens that what will, after a “yes” vote, by five o’clock on Friday morning already be more their Bank of England than it will be Scottish citizens’ Bank?

And even more Machiavellian:

But, after a yes vote, a key minister in the UK government would be in a more serious plight. The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, the Rt Hon Danny Alexander, will be impaled on the horns of a dilemma. On the one hand, Mr Alexander is a minister in the UK government. He must decide what announcements to make to reassure the markets on Friday after a “yes” vote, bearing in mind the interests of the citizens of the rump UK. In the ordinary course of events the Chief Secretary would expect to be a key negotiator for the UK with his counterparts in Scotland. But Mr Alexander is also an MP for a Scottish constituency. Can he therefore uphold cabinet collective responsibility for decisions taken after a “yes” vote about how the UK pursues its negotiations with the Scottish government?

Read the whole article here.

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