Edinburgh – With nearly all of the results from the 18 September referendum on independence having been announced, Scotland’s status as a member of the United Kingdom is secured. In an election with turnout at well over 80%, the No campaign won Thursday’s referendum by 10 points with a 55%-45% victory. In regards to individual vote numbers, No had 1,914,187 votes whilst Yes had 1,539,920.
While Thursday’s referendum did not result in Scottish independence, the results undoubtedly will result in further political change throughout the United Kingdom. The major No parties, the Conservatives, Labour, and Liberal Democrats all promised further devolution to Scotland, a promise which Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond, MSP stated must be met.
All sides hailed the high voter turnout numbers throughout Scotland, with over 80% of the population casting ballots in the referendum. In particular, the voter turnout rate in Stirling, which voted no, was an incredibly high 90%.
The vote was settled by 06.00 BST (00.00 CDT, 15.00 AEST) with the returns in Fife, whose 139,788 votes against independence put the No campaign over the edge and into victory early Friday morning local time.
Much of the discussion in the hour since the Fife announcement has involved further devolution not only for Scotland, but also for Wales, England, and Northern Ireland, even with talk of a Federal system being established in the United Kingdom in the future.
Trading began in the City of London earlier than normal on Friday, with financial reactions being seen largely in the currency markets, with the pound sterling rising to 1.65 USD (1.28 EUR, 1.84 AUD). The BBC reported that the American markets are also expected to open higher than normal on Friday as a result of the no vote.
British Prime Minister David Cameron spoke from Downing Street at 07.06 on Friday (01.06 CDT, 16.06 AEST), saying, “Like millions of others, I am delighted” with the referendum’s results. “We now have a great opportunity to change how the British people are governed,” the PM continued. He made it clear to note that those commitments proposed by the three pro-Union parties will be taken up by a commission to be led by Lord Kelvin.
“I have long believed that a crucial part missing from this discussion is England.” Cameron went on to announce his support for plans to be drawn up that could lead to a future devolved English legislative body, which would have similar powers to the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly.
No matter the result, Scotland, and the United Kingdom are changed forever. Thursday’s historic vote will undoubtedly be remembered for centuries to come as a major milestone in the constitutional history of the United Kingdom.