Belfast Telegraph

Scotland referendum: Yes vote will be devastating for Northern Ireland unionists, says academic

By Rebecca Black

A leading academic has warned that a Yes vote in the Scottish referendum would be a "devastating blow for unionists".

Professor Graham Walker, a Glasgow-born political academic at Queen's University, said: "Scotland matters a great deal to the unionist idea of the Union, the idea of where they belong in it.

"Scotland is the most emotional link in the British chain for unionists.

"It might be questioned whether unionists can adapt to a new UK that doesn't have Scotland in it. Would unionists feel their identity could be expressed in that new UK?

"It would be demoralising politically for unionism, and as such it could have repercussions in terms of the political situation here."

Mr Walker said an independent Scotland could lead to a push for an independent Northern Ireland from some unionists on one side, and a renewed pressure for Irish unity from nationalists.

"Either way you look at it, it will cause political waves here and political instability arising from a Yes vote," he said.

Economically, the academic said Northern Ireland looks likely to lose out in terms of our block grant, pointing out that currently we do best out of the Barnett formula.

"If Scotland goes independent, the Barnett formula – the basis for the financing of the different devolved parts of the UK at the moment – would have to be scrapped," he explained.

"I think that the advantages that Northern Ireland has enjoyed up until now in terms of public expenditure would be much reduced. Really, we are looking at a budget which would be much reduced."

DUP leader and First Minister Peter Robinson said: "Part of the strength of the United Kingdom comes from its diversity and the British identity must always recognise differences across its constituent parts.

"It is my hope that Scotland will continue to play a key role in the life of our nation for many years to come."

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt has also appealed for a No vote, describing the UK as "a family of nations".

"We are united through social, economic and cultural ties; we have a joint history of enterprise, genius, standing up for the weak and facing down tyranny," he said.

"That is a history which can never be erased and which I believe will continue to bind us together.

"The United Kingdom is like a stew; each constituent part has identity and appeal of its own right, but put together, the output is special and unique; the whole is far greater than the sum of its parts.

"The only poll that counts takes place on Thursday. We will respect the decision, but sincerely hope that the people of Scotland see through what George Galloway has described as the 'moonshine, fantasy economics' of the Scottish nationalists."

Meanwhile, a Sinn Fein spokesman commented only: "Sinn Fein believes that it is up to the Scottish people to decide their future."

Scottish Independence Vote further reading

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Scottish independence: Unionists in Northern Ireland can expect a border poll of their own in the not-too-distant future

Westminster elite in a panic as more voters are backing Scottish independence, says Alex Salmond

UK is the envy of the world, David Cameron tells Scots

Scottish independence: Scotland is different...you only have to watch Braveheart or read the 1707 Act of Union to see how different

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Scottish Referendum: Wait and see the outcome before dealing with any implications, says Martin McGuinness

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