With 99 days to go until the referendum, here are 99 reasons to say No Thanks on September 18th:
1. Keeping the shipyards open – It is fact that the UK does not build complex warships outside of the UK and so an independent Scotland would simply not get shipbuilding contracts from the UK, risking all the jobs on the Clyde.
2. We have a permanent seat on the UN Security Council – The UK is an important and influential player on the Security Council. The make-up of the permanent members is unlikely to change and so Scotland will be taking itself away from making the most important global decisions by separating from the UK.
3. Keeping the pound – There is no guarantee that Scotland would be able to keep the pound and even if it was, it would still have to follow the rules set by the Bank of England. So Scotland would have to play by the rules without having a say on them.
4. We are still a member of the EU – The President of the European Commission said it would be “extremely difficult, if not impossible” for a separate Scotland to join the EU. Some countries may try to block the application to stop separatists in their own country becoming independent. Even if we were able to reapply, reapplication could last until the 2020s, with years of us not benefitting from it.
5. No border control – Travelling between England and Scotland would mean going through controls in an independent Scotland and would have a negative impact on tourism and business. Scotland would also need to find the millions needed to create its own infrastructure for controlling its borders.
6. Part of world-class Armed Forces – UK Armed Forces and Defence industry are best in the world – we are safer and more secure if we work together as one, rather than breaking apart and trying in vain to recreate what we once had.
7. Control over immigration policy – An independent Scotland would, at best, hope to sign up to the Schengen agreement if a member of the EU, or a Common Trade Agreement with the rest of the UK. Either way, Scotland would have to follow the immigration policies set by its partners. At the moment, as part of the UK, Scotland has a say in this, but if independent, Scotland would have no seat at the table and would have to follow UK rules.
8. We are protected from oil shocks – Scotland’s oil and gas revenue has fluctuated between £2bn and £12bn a year – and in 2012-13 dropped by more than £4bn in one year alone. As part of the UK, we are protected from these drops in revenue.
9. A working pensions system – our UK pensions system is tried and tested, with 1 million Scots guaranteed pensions through the UK welfare system and the UK’s 31 million taxpayers. There are no credible plans to replicate this in an independent Scotland.
10. More affordable welfare spending – Benefit spending in Scotland is around 2% higher per head of the population than from the rest of Great Britain, millions of pounds per year extra relative to the rest of the country. This additional spending is more affordable because it is spread among 60 million people across the UK rather than 5 million in Scotland. An independent Scotland would have difficult decisions to make on welfare spending.
11. An ageing population – Scotland will have more pensioners and less people working than in other parts of the UK. There is a demographic timebomb and there would be cuts to pensions if we became independent and couldn’t rely on support from the rest of the UK.
12. No start-up costs – The UK Government calculates that independence would cost £1.5bn, while the SNP will not give any estimate. Everything from rebranding the stationary would cost money and we have to ask whether this is really a good use of our money.
13. Keeping our family ties – Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland are not separate countries. Our family and friends live across the whole of the UK, and 50% of Scots have close relatives in the rest of the UK. We should work to keep together in one nation, rather than driving a wedge between us.
14. A cross-border pensions system – Many private pension schemes are based in other parts of the UK. If Scotland became independent, EU rules mean they would have to fund schemes immediately rather than through a staged recovery pan, forcing these companies to find billions of pounds. Other countries in the EU have not had a special deal on this issue, and so it is unlikely Scotland would either.
15. An existing pensions system – An independent Scotland would need to set up and pay for a separate Scottish pensions regulator, a separate Scottish financial services compensation scheme, a separate National Employers Savings Trust for workplace pensions and a separate Payment Protection Fund (PPF) to protect workers when their company folds. This would be very expensive.
16. More opportunities for our young people – Our young people know that being part of a bigger country means they can travel around the UK with ease and get the best opportunities for them. It is better to be the small fish in a big pond, than the big fish in a small pond.
17. Global opportunities as part of the UK – The UK is respected around the world, and when we go abroad to work or study, that means something. People are impressed that we are from Great Britain, and want to encourage us to go there.
18. President Obama thinks we are Better Together – See what he said here.
19. Influential position in the EU – As part of the UK we are currently one of the ‘Big Three’ in Europe, meaning our voice counts. Scotland, if it were able to join, would join one of the many smaller countries, that are respected, but just don’t have the same influence.
20. Benefits from the EU rebate – As part of the UK, we benefit from the rebate, worth £135 per year per household. We negotiated that as part of a strong country, but Scotland would not be able to do that, costing more for Scottish households.
21. We have British citizenship – Under Scottish Government proposals, all Scottish people would automatically become Scottish, even if living outside of Scotland. This would be a very difficult model and could impose citizenship on people who do not want it. There has also been no estimate on how much it would cost to transfer all passports to Scottish passports.
22. Our EU rules are particularly good – We would have to renegotiate with the other 28 member states if Scotland had to reapply, and common sense says we will not get everything we want. The UK has negotiated extremely good terms, because of its size, but Scotland may get a bad deal on issues such as fishing and farming.
23. We do not have the Euro – Every new country that has joined the EU since the creation of the Euro has had to pledge to join it. There is no reason that Scotland would not also have to do this in its reapplication, if Scotland became independent.
24. Influential position in NATO – Like with other organisations, the UK is a powerful player in NATO, and part of the rights and responsibilities of this position is having nuclear weapons. SNP proposals, where Scotland could remain in NATO but get rid of Trident, are unrealistic. Even if Scotland was admitted to NATO, we would lose the influential position we currently hold.
25. We share the clean-up costs for North Sea Oil – When North Sea Oil runs out, the UK Government has put aside £20 billion to clean it up. If Scotland were independent, and Scotland owned the rigs, or some of the rigs, the Scottish Government would need to find billions for this clean-up.
26. Sharing welfare risks and resources – Being part of 60 million, rather than just 5 million, we can weather the storms when more people need, for example, unemployment benefits, and also pull together resources so that welfare is available on the basis of need, not nationality.
27. More money for public services – With the security and strength of the UK, we will have £1400 more per person to spend on public services than in an independent Scotland.
28. Cheaper energy bills – Energy bills could be up to £189 extra per household by 2020 in an independent Scotland.
29. Sir Alex Ferguson wants to stay in the UK – He said: “800,000 Scots, like me, live and work in other parts of the United Kingdom. We don’t live in a foreign country; we are just in another part of the family of the UK.”
30. Strong and stable energy market – As part of the UK, Scotland benefits from an energy industry which is strong and stable. The size of the UK economy, its integrated market, regulated regimes and scale of financial support provide a good investment environment and this is good for Scottish consumers.
31. UK Government investment in energy infrastructure – We benefit disproportionately from investment in energy infrastructure, in particular, renewable energy. Almost 30% of the UK total investment in network transmission is already being made by the UK Government to Scotland, despite the population of Scotland being around 8% of the UK. It is unclear whether Scotland would be required to resell the energy generated from this infrastructure back to the UK, which funded it.
32. More funding for our athletes – As Usain Bolt said, ‘Don’t Bolt from the blue, red and white’. Our athletes can go to the Olympics as part of Team GB, with all the investment that that brings. Since London 2012, we have done exceptionally well as a nation, with Scotland playing a disproportionately high part in that.
33. Benefits to medical research – As an example, Nobel scientist, Sir Paul Nurse, said that Scotland relies on money from the Medical Research Council, the Wellcome Trust and Cancer Research UK. He said it would be difficult to justify using this money if Scotland were independent and “it is by co-operating together that we achieve far more than we can ever achieve on our own”.
34. Lower shopping bills - In the UK, the cost of transporting groceries are spread across 63 million consumers, rather than 5 million in Scotland, meaning lower shopping bills. In an independent Scotland, shopping bills would be about 16% higher.
35. Keep zero VAT rate – In the UK we have zero rate of VAT on 54 areas of goods, such as children’s clothing, books and equipment for the disabled, because of a long-standing agreement with Europe, saving hundreds of pounds every year for Scottish families. However, there are strict rules on this for new countries joining the EU and during Scotland’s reapplication, it would not be able to keep the zero VAT rate.
36. A thriving Scotch Whisky industry – The Scotch Whisky Association has said that uncertainty over currency, tax and membership of the EU if Scotland leaves the UK means that independence would bring risks. This would threaten 35,000 jobs in Scotland.
37. A necessary credit union industry – There are 113 credit unions in Scotland serving 250,000 people. They are small organisations and benefit from a range of UK-wide initiatives that help them grow and remain competitive. They can transfer expertise and pool resources and separation could put that at risk.
38. We share a cultural heritage – The NHS was founded by a Welshman, the welfare state by an Englishman and the BBC by a Scotsman: all the things that make our country great. We have this history which shows that we can work together to do great things.
39. Outward and forward-looking country – The UK is known around the world for looking to the future and embracing the opportunities that the world has to offer. A vote for independence would signal that we are insular and are looking to the past, rather than embracing the future.
40. Encouraging overseas students – Foreign students are vital to the future of our universities, but students come to Scotland to come to the UK. They are attracted by the brand that is the UK and would be less interested in coming to country which is separate from that.
41. Member of G7 and G20 – We are members of these groupings and have an influential role within them. As the world changes, we always want a seat at the table. In the UK, we always have, but a small, independent Scotland is unlikely to be invited to organisations such as these.
42. Promotion of UK trade abroad – UK Trade and Investment is based in 169 offices in over 100 countries. We would be competing with UKTI and Scotland would need to start from scratch as an independent country.
43. Well-developed diplomatic service – As part of this service, we have influence and connections around the globe. The ‘yes’ campaign says Scotland would share UK embassies but it is not clear why the rest of the UK would be happy to do this and what benefits would be gained from this.
44. Better for growth – Scotland has had a high rate of growth as part of the UK compared to small, independent countries.
45. Many of our public bodies are shared across the UK – we would need to replace 200 UK public bodies that are currently performing functions in Scotland.
46. A united kingdom promotes exports from Scotland to England – Scotland exports twice as much to the rest of the UK as it does to the rest of the world combined, supported by a common business framework and a single domestic market.
47. We have a back-up in case something goes wrong – The UK Government spent £45 billion recapitalising RBS in 2008, and the bank also received £275 billion of state guarantees and loans. In total this support would have been twice the size of the whole Scottish economy in that year, including North Sea oil.
48. We benefit from research funding – Last year, Scotland secured 13% of UK Research Councils’ funding – £257 million – far in excess of our 8% share of the population.
49. We are part of national institution – In the UK we share common institutions, like the BBC or the National Lottery charitable fund, and we
50. A chance for devolution – Scotland’s devolution settlement is flexible within the UK, with more powers for the Scottish Parliament being introduced. This includes the largest devolution of tax powers in our history from April 2016.
51. Ease for small businesses working across the border – Small businesses working across the border would be the hardest hit by a move to independence, facing significant costs through currency exchange and perhaps having to cross a border each and every day.
52. A boost to the financial industry – 200,000 people are employed in the financial industry but nine tenths of Scotland’s customers would be in a foreign country if Scotland were to become independent. Some companies have already made preparations to move to England if vote for independence.
53. Being Scottish but living in the rest of the UK – More than 830,000 people born in Scotland now live elsewhere in the UK. They are always able to return and keep their links with Scotland, but also know they benefit from being able to live outside of Scotland without any barriers in place.
54. We are not dependent on volatile oil prices – We don’t want to risk the budget for the NHS and schools on volatile oil prices
55. Work with other British cities – Scottish cities are part of the network of British cities, where they can work together to implement the best policies for all our cities. Cities like Glasgow have more in common with Manchester and Liverpool than much of the rest of Scotland.
56. Employers think we should stay in the UK – According to British Chamber of Commerce, 85% of employers want Scotland to remain in the UK.
57. Leading in international aid – We are proud to be part of world’s second largest donor of international aid and should be proud to play a part of that. In the large part our international aid is administered from DFID in East Kilbride and we should continue to work to end poverty around the world.
58. Setting the world’s human rights agenda – We are proud, as part of the UK, to be driving human rights around the world. We helped to set up the European Convention of Human Rights and, more recently, the UN Human Rights Council. We should be proud to play a part of this.
59. More jobs from UK companies - 360,000 jobs in Scotland are created by companies in the rest of the UK, not based in Scotland, and we couldn’t guarantee that those companies would keep jobs in an independent Scotland.
60. More jobs through exports - 240,000 jobs depend on exports to the rest of the UK. If there are barriers to exports out of Scotland, those jobs may be at risk.
61. It is the patriotic vote - It’s a vote for patriotism: we can be British and Scottish at the same time. And voting for Scottish jobs and Scottish prosperity is the most patriotic vote we can make.
62. The rest of the UK want us - The rest of the country want to keep Scotland in the UK: only 15% of English and Welsh want to see a split. The SNP want to split us and create a culture of ‘us’ vs. ‘them’, but we want to work together with our neighbours for a better world.
63. A ‘no’ vote is not a vote for the Tories – We can vote to get rid of a Tory Government on our own in 2015. An independent Scotland runs the risk of being run by the Tartan Tories, no better than the Conservatives, and if people want a right-wing Parliament, they will get it either way. But we can work together to get a Labour majority in the UK and in Scotland.
64. Lower costs for businesses – Separation would cost businesses 11 times more than their competitors in England if we do not share a currency; that’s £1,229 per business in Scotland compared to £109 in England.
65. £100m to Scottish universities - It would be discriminatory and illegal to continue charging tuition fees to students from the rest of the UK in an independent Scotland (if we were able to be part of the EU). This would cost £100m per year for Scottish universities.
66. A strong university sector – Scotland has more universities in the world’s top 200 per head than anywhere else on the planet and this couldn’t have been possible without the backing of the UK. Without a strong a stable economy, we won’t be able to support our universities.
67. We are well-educated as part of the UK – Scotland is the most highly educated country in Europe currently, so it is wrong to say we would be better off in an independent Scotland. We have the best of both worlds, where we can set our own educational goals, but are part of a bigger union that gives us the stability to be able to do that.
68. A seat at the table – The UK Parliament would still make the rules which affect Scotland if Scotland voted ‘yes’. Whether we kept the pound or not, economic decisions would have a huge impact on Scotland. Decisions on immigration would also have a knock-on effect. But there would be no Scots in Parliament to help make those decisions. We currently get the best of both worlds, but leaving the UK would mean we had to play by the rules but wouldn’t get the chance to make them.
69. Stability in the UK and the rest of Europe – Independence would lead to a “Balkanisation of the British Isles” according to Sweden’s foreign minister, leading to unforeseen chain reactions in both Europe and the UK.
70. It’s a big risk to leave – It is an irreversible decision – what if we don’t like what happens? What if we don’t like the constitution? Further devolution is inevitable, but independence is a huge risk.
71. A socialist proposal – Scottish separatism is insular and proposes that Scots get rich at the expense of men, women and children across the rest of the UK. As a Labour MP, I believe in sharing the risk and resources, rather than playing one side off against the other
72. Savings are protected – Savings are currently protected by a guarantee covering deposits of up to £85,000 in any UK bank or building society.
73. Better for Women in Business – 71% of the Tods Murray LLP Women in Business Network are in favour of keeping the union. The economy is central to how we break down barriers to equality and a better economy means more opportunities for women
74. Better workers’ rights – Through working together, we can ensure companies offer better rights across the UK (and a Labour Government will do this), rather than let companies across the border compete on a race to the bottom. We shouldn’t now be trying to divide the countries again and let companies exploit our workers.
75. More beneficial migration – Net migration between Scotland and the UK may fall from 40,000 a year to 10,000 according to the Treasury. This undermines the Yes vote argument that immigration will contribute to Scotland’s growth. Immigration is hugely beneficial to Scotland’s economy.
76. Signal to the world – If Scotland cannot get along with its closest neighbour, what signal does that send the rest of the world? Separation would dissuade international allies.
77. Lower mortgage repayments - As part of the UK we benefit from lower mortgage repayments, saving £1300 a year for those with a 75% mortgage, through spreading the risks across the UK
78. Lower credit card bills - As part of the UK we benefit from lower card bills and in an independent Scotland average credit cards, catalogue and store cards would rise by around £120 a year
79. Lower interest rates – Independent Scotland would face additional interest rate costs between 0.72% to 1.65% above the UK borrowing costs for 10 year debt, according to Dr Angus Armstrong, NIESR Director of Macroeconomic Research
80. Lower postage costs – It is far more expensive to deliver to the highlands than to Manchester or Birmingham. Through spreading the cost across the UK, we are able to keep postage prices low. We have more rural areas in Scotland so prices would go up.
81. No import or export taxes for the UK – We currently do not need to pay taxes to trade over the border but there is no guarantee that this would continue were Scotland to become independent, especially if it did not join the EU.
82. Lower licence fee – Scottish licence fee payers contribute around £300m but by clubbing together with the rest of the UK, we get about £3.6bn worth of programmes. Viewers outside the UK pay for things like iPlayer. In an independent Scotland we may have to pay a higher fee, like other small countries, for fewer programmes.
83. Keeping the BBC – There is no benefit to losing the BBC, and no guarantee that we would keep it in an independent Scotland. We rightly want distinctively Scottish programmes, but we currently pay 8% of the license fee money and will in the coming year receive an estimated 10% of its expenditure.
84. Culturally influential – The UK has been voted the most culturally influential nation of earth. That is a mixture of Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland. As part of this mix, we play an important role and can promote Scottishness and Britishness. Alone, we are not as influential.
85. A successful Scottish Parliament – We have a powerful Scottish Parliament with power over some of the most important aspects of Scottish life: hospitals, schools, police and transport. But we have the security of a strong UK, one of the biggest economies in the world, to back it up and give it the power it needs.
86. Trade unions are campaigning to stay in the UK – GMB, Community, ASLEF, CWU, Usdaw and NUM are campaigning against separation as they know it is better for their members if Scotland stays in the UK.
87. Sharing the UK debt – An independent Scotland would be responsible for repaying the UK for a fair and proportionate share of its debt. However this was decided, Scotland would have large existing debts for a relatively small country.
88. Keeping Lloyds and RBS in Scotland – A senior banker has said that under EU law RBS and Lloyds may be forced to move their registered offices or legal homes to London, as they should be located where the group has the bulk of its activities (which is England).
89. Better broadband support – Scottish communities received one fifth of UK Government money spent improving broadband in rural areas, despite only making up 8% of the population. As technology improves, we will need the strength of the UK to keep our very large rural population up to speed.
90. High public spending – Public spending in Scotland is about £1,200 higher per person than the UK level. The rest of the country supports us, and we would need to find the money somewhere to keep up the public spending.
91. Easy to travel to work – Around 30,000 people travel in and out of Scotland each day to work. It is simple because we are all the same country, but these people would find this more difficult if there was a border between our countries.
92. Lower interest rates on Scotland’s borrowing – An independent Scotland would have to establish a new system for managing its currency and borrowing money on financial markets for the first time. Most experts agree that this would mean that an independent Scotland would pay higher interest rates than it does as part of the UK.
93. We think we are financially better off in the UK – The 2013 Scottish Social Attitudes Survey found that only 9% of Scots thought that Scottish independence would make them financially better off. That’s five percentage points less than those who believe aliens have visited Earth in UFOs.
94. Better to be part of a big economy – Scotland’s economy isn’t as big as the SNP claim, with a recent Glasgow University study saying that the due to the high number of non-Scottish firms operating in Scotland, our actual income is as much as £2,990 less per head than Salmond suggests. More than 70% of Scotland’s total economic output – excluding banking and finance and the public sector – is controlled by non-Scottish-owned firms. The UK, however, is the sixth biggest economy in the world.
95. Encouraging foreign investment – Scotland had 82 overseas funded projects last year, up from 76 the year before, and second only to London. The UK has always attracted firms to do business here, but that could be at risk if Scotland were to go independent and separate itself from the ‘UK brand’.
96. It’s a vote for social justice – Social justice, as said by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, is not advanced by retreating into independence.
97. Sharing NHS resources – In the UK we benefit from reciprocal arrangements for the NHS in England. If we need to visit a specialised surgeon south of the border, we can go there to get the best treatment available.
98. Stable banking sector – An independent Scotland would have a banking sector that’s over 12 times the size of our economy, meaning big risks if there was another crisis like the one in 2008. The UK brings us stability and strength in the sector.
99. Young people want to remain in the UK – A survey by the University of Edinburgh showed that 64% of people under 18 back Scotland remaining in the UK, compared with 36% supporting separation. They are our future and we should be thinking of them when we cast our vote.