Scottish vote 'blow' for NI unionists

Scottish vote 'blow' for NI unionists

A yes vote on Scottish independence could deal a "major psychological blow" to unionists in Northern Ireland, it has been claimed.

The people of Scotland will go to the polls on 18 September to decide whether or not the country should leave the United Kingdom.They will be asked the yes/no question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"First Minister Alex Salmond and his SNP government are leading the yes campaign, while the main opposition parties argue Scotland would be better off remaining in the Union.A conference at Queen's University Belfast on Thursday looked at the possible impacts the vote could have on the other UK regions, including the possibility of an Irish border poll.Historian Dr Eamon Phoenix said: "If Scotland votes yes it will be a major psychological blow to Ulster unionism, given the four decades of emotional and historical ties between them, so Peter Robinson has been counselling a rejection of the Scottish independence."On the nationalist side, amongst Sinn Féin and the SDLP, a move towards Scottish independence would probably reignite demands for a border poll over a united Ireland."David Cameron may have the last laugh because if he's to keep Scotland in the union he's going to have to give Scotland greater powers of taxing and spending and that will impact on Northern Ireland and suit the unionist parties at Stormont, reinforcing the union."Last year Sinn Féin made a fresh call for a referendum here, while the DUP considered calling their bluff, confident that a united Ireland would be rejected.Under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, a poll on Northern Ireland's status can be called if there is evidence indicating support for a constitutional change - however the Secretary of State has indicated that the UK government isn't currently considering the issue.The conference also looked at some of the economic implications of Scotland voting yes.Prime Minister David Cameron has put off any decision on corporation tax for Northern Ireland until after the Scots referendum, while it is also possible that the outcome of the poll could mean changes to the amount of money allocated to the Executive.Professor James Mitchell, from the University of Edinburgh, said: "There are obvious similarities between the debates in NI and Scotland but also some obvious differences."The flags and symbols are a lot more important and more contentious in NI, as we have seen recently, while the Scottish debate is much more about welfare and the economy."But whatever happens in Scotland is likely to have some implications for the rest of the UK and it's possible that London will want to ensure the Scottish vote by agreeing to put more money or maintain the level of finance going into Scotland. If that is the case, will Wales and Northern Ireland lose out? We don't know but there are potentially significant implications."Leader of the pro-Union campaign, former Labour chancellor Alistair Darling, described plans for an independent Scotland as "increasingly dead in the water" on Thursday.SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson said Mr Darling is "out of touch" with voters.The latest opinion polls have suggested that the no vote is currently ahead, however both campaigns are expected to intensify in the months leading up to September.


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