Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Break up in the air for United Kingdom

Source: Press TV

The days of the United Kingdom of England and Scotland seem to be numbered as the Scottish government has intensified the drumbeat of independence amid British efforts to undermine such efforts.

The newly retired British Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell predicted, while still in office a few weeks ago, that it would be an “enormous challenge” to hold the Union of the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland, formed in 1707, together.

Scottish first minister Alex Salmond said at the time that O'Donnell has been “extremely fair in recognizing and respecting the democratic mandate of the Scottish government.”

Salmond is now moving full steam ahead on the path to use the mandate based on the absolute majority of his Scottish Nationalist Party in the Scottish parliament to secure Scotland's independence from Britain.

SNP said just before the New Year that Scotland would have its own army, navy and air force after independence, like its Nordic neighbors, Sweden, Denmark and Norway.

The party said they are working on a detailed plan to join the Scandinavian circle of countries in a bid to reduce ties with Britain and its western European allies.

Their unshaken push for independence, however, raised an angry response in London though the British government later tried to whitewash the issue.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg claimed a few days ago that those who believe in Scottish independence are “extremists.”

Clegg said the Scottish government should follow the Liberal Democrats' “center-ground” proposals of constitutional reforms to give Holyrood greater powers short of independence.

This is while the SNP had already proposed to hold a referendum that offers voters three choices: keeping the current arrangements, full independence or greater devolution powers.

In effect, the SNP was already offering the choice proposed by Clegg to the Scottish voters yet his suggestion that full independence should be removed from the available options angered the party.

A SNP spokeswoman said Clegg is using “the old and tried Tory scaremongering” to prevent the Scottish people from gaining “full financial powers.”

The duplicity behind Clegg's remarks was exposed, however, when the government announced they would make any referendum on Scotland leaving the UK, legally binding, only if the plebiscite offers a yes/no question on independence and if it is held within a maximum 18 months rather than in 2014 as proposed by the SNP.

Prime Minister David Cameron cited legal and economic uncertainty to justify his proposal but Scotland's deputy fist minister Nicola Sturgeon hit out at Cameron saying the offer is “a blatant attempt to interfere” in an issue which is not London's business.

This is while London seems keen to prevent a vote in 2014 as it would coincide with the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn during which England suffered a humiliating defeat against Britain.

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