The Scottish government has published a white paper laying out its plans for an independence referendum. Though there are three possible scenarios with regards to Scotland's future, First Minister Alex Salmond insisted that Scotland must be independent to meets its full economic potential.
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Speaking at its launch in Edinburgh, Mr Salmond said: "It's time for the people to have their say on Scotland's future. The debate in Scottish politics is no longer between change or no change – it's about the kind of change we seek and the right of the people to choose their future in a free and fair referendum."
But is independence the most sensible option? Another of the options laid out in the white paper has been called Devolution Max and would give the Scottish Parliament responsibility for all except defence and foreign affairs. The question is, were Scotland to become entirely independent, how would it fare in terms of economic development and can it stand alone on the political world stage?
Energy resources such as oil and gas aside, pessimistic unionists claim that independence would leave the country with a huge deficit of between £6bn and £11bn... and that means only one thing – a rise in taxes. And if Scotland were to lead the way, who's to say that Wales won't be next?
Though the Scottish Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Labour parties all insist that the referendum will not happen, a serious move towards independence for Scotland could signal the beginning of the end for the United Kingdom.
What do you think? With a political infrastructure already in place, is independence the natural way forward for Scotland or will the whole of Britain suffer as a result? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.