Excerpt from Rt. Hon Sir John Major KG CH Speech to CBI Scotland Annual Dinner 5th September 2019

My fear is that Brexit will unsettle the unity of our UK.  The Union is not England writ large. It belongs to Scotland too, and has served both our nations well.

Today, the risk of separation is growing – but it is not inevitable.


The core ambition of the Scottish Government is an independent Scotland – free of the Union with England.  In England, the Brexit campaign has promoted English nationalism.

 

The English Nationalists affect not to care about separation.  They care more about leaving Europe.  But the collapse of Unionism in England, and ambition for independence in Scotland, could lead to a calamitous outcome for us both.


If she will bear the cost, I have never doubted that Scotland could govern herself.

 

But I believe Scotland and England together are greater than the sum of their parts.  That is why I am a Unionist.  


If Scotland secedes, it will weaken every part of the United Kingdom – including Scotland.    

By weaken, I don’t simply mean losing the disbursements of the Barnett Formula.  I mean losing trade without barriers.  Trade without borders.  Trade without tariffs.  Today, trade across the Union is as simple as trade between Glasgow and Edinburgh.  This would not be so after separation.  


The risk for Scottish prosperity is that the volume of trade with England is three and a half times larger than trade between Scotland and the EU.  But if Scotland abandons the Union, those tariff-free, barrier-free, border-free advantages could be lost.


But the Union is also about culture and identity.


It is about mutual benefits to our way of life, our international influence, our world profile, our defence and security, our research and learning, and all the aspects of our long and close relationship.  


For 300 years, England and Scotland have faced the world together with shared values and mutual interests.  That should be cherished, not thrown away.  


Yet, it could be, if Nationalists – in England and Scotland – focus on “England First” and “Scotland First”, rather than both nations in harmony.  


I fully understand why Scotland has reasons for grievance.


Five years ago, Scots voted to remain in the UK and, with it, the EU:  but they now see English votes taking them out of Europe.


But even legitimate resentment is no basis for wise and thoughtful policy.  Nor does it overcome the problems of independence.  


The fiscal gap.  Higher taxes.  Lower spending.  The vulnerability of greater isolation.  They will affect every Scot:  but all of this is avoidable if good neighbourliness replaces the bitter hostilities of nationalism.


England and Scotland have long united around a common patriotism.  Nationalism is not patriotism.  


If we let nationalism divide us – Scottish nationalism or English nationalism – we will create a schism that cannot be bridged.  And, if that comes to pass, we will all be the losers – in this generation and far beyond.

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