Nick Herbert: Strong reasons why UK should stick together

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On Tuesday, the national commemoration of The Queen’s coronation was held, sixty years on from the ceremony in 1953. It was a reminder that The Queen was crowned as Sovereign of a United Kingdom in which England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all play a distinctive part.

The leader of the Scottish Nationalists, Alex Salmond, has cleverly stated that the Queen would remain head of state in an independent Scotland.

But there remains strong, practical reasons for the UK to stay together – economically, politically and socially.

Scottish businesses will have to win orders against smart and efficient firms in foreign markets. The UK is better placed than a separate Scotland or England to help our businesses find and win new orders across the world.

As part of the UK, Scotland has a seat at the top table of NATO, the UN Security Council and embassies across the globe. Scots have long made a proud contribution to our armed forces. Nor should we ignore interdependence – the coming together of family, friends, ideas, institutions and identities – that remains a strength of the Union. As the debate has progressed, the Nationalist case has unravelled. Alex Salmond has been unable to answer whether Scotland would remain part of the EU or would have to reapply.

He said that Scotland would keep the pound – but that wouldn’t be a decision for the Scots alone. Currency unions between different countries result in huge pressures, as the Eurozone’s problems have shown. Why would the English want to enter one? And anyway, what would independence mean if Scotland was still subject to the Bank of England?

Mr Salmond used to talk of an independent Scotland joining an ‘arc of prosperity’, taking in Ireland and Iceland, an idea now lampooned as an ‘arc of insolvency’. It is no surprise that Scots are seeing through the Nationalist rhetoric. The latest poll found only 35 per cent favouring independence.

Scotland has a distinct system of law and education, and now has its own Parliament. These are important factors in preserving its national character – the Union has never meant uniformity.

I have always been instinctively committed to the Union. I recall standing on the famous Union Bridge over the river Tweed which links England and Scotland and wondering if it could really be in Scotland’s interests to separate.

I hope, when the referendum is held next year, that the Scottish People will ask themselves the same question.

If you would like to get in touch with me, please write to me at the House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA, or e-mail me at nick@nickherbert.com