Scotland: Possible decision to secede from United Kingdom could derail 2015 election
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
3/17/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
The nation of Scotland votes for independence in September's referendum. Those in Great Britain view this with suspicion, as the 2015 general election could be thrown into turmoil. The election is scheduled on May 7 next year, but if by then Scotland has separated from the rest of the United Kingdom, it could plunge Britain into an unprecedented "constitutional crisis."
Cabinet ministers fear that if Alex Salmond's independence campaign succeeds, the general election would be left in grave doubt.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Cabinet ministers fear that if Alex Salmond's independence campaign succeeds, the general election would be left in grave doubt.
In a memorandum for the House of Lords, Professor Alan Boyle, a specialist in international law at Edinburgh University, outlined two options for the election if Scotland chooses independence on September 18.
Boyle says that Emergency laws could be passed months before the election in order to ban the 59 Scottish constituencies from taking part. Polls would only be held in England, Wales and Northern Ireland next May, he said.
Alternatively, the election could proceed as planned across the U.K. -- but all Scottish MPs would then be ejected from the Commons on the day that Scotland becomes an independent country. That could come as soon as March 2016, only 10 months after the election.
In short, a decision to exclude Scotland from the 2015 election would force the political parties to tear up their battle plans, re-write their manifesto proposals and reshuffle their ministerial teams' mid-way through the campaign.
His would have a severe effect on Labor, which has significantly more MPs from Scotland than the other parties - including the Shadow Foreign Secretary and election coordinator, Douglas Alexander.
If the election proceeds and the MPs for Scottish seats then leave the Commons in 2016, it could decisively shift the balance of power, and bring down the new government less than a year after it has been elected, Boyle said.
Boyle, in a written submission to the House of Lords on the implications of independence, said that Scottish MPs would be legally entitled to remain in Westminster after the 2015 general election "until the date of independence."
The only way to avoid this would be to transfer powers over Scottish affairs from London to the Scottish Parliament "in whole or in part" after the referendum has been held but before Scotland becomes independent, he said.
"If those powers were transferred in advance of independence it might then be reasonable to exclude Scottish constituencies from participation in the UK general election in 2015," Boyle said.
"As regards the parliamentary impact in 2015-20, this is probably not a question for a lawyer to answer, but at the very least there is an obvious risk of a near permanent Conservative majority in the House of Commons once Scottish MPs leave.
"If Scottish MPs remained in place until 2016 or later there is a risk that removing them would deprive a Labor government elected in 2015 of its majority."
Boyle's analysis has arrived as ministers privately question whether the general election could go ahead if Scotland votes for independence.
"Britain would be plunged into a constitutional crisis. You couldn't possibly hold a General Election in 2015 which elects Scottish MPs for five years when they won't even be the same country," one Cabinet minister said.
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