LONDON (AP) – Voters in Scotland have rejected independence, but leaders of Britain’s three largest parties have promised Scots more autonomy than they have won so far.
Prime Minister David Cameron said Friday he also wants to give England, Wales and Northern Ireland greater independence from central government. Here’s a look at how things might change.
The referendum is over. Doesn’t that end the process?
Not so fast. As part of a late campaign to save the union, Prime Minister David Cameron and other major party leaders promised greater financial authority to the Scottish Parliament.
In a late effort to boost the No campaign, leaders of the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats promised to give the Scottish Parliament “extensive new powers”, including the power to raise taxes if necessary to protect the National Health Service in Scotland.
How does that impact the rest of the UK?
Scotland’s flirtation with independence has highlighted anomalies in the British constitution. While Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own legislatures to deal with some local issues, England is subject to the will of Parliament – and to the votes of legislators from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
There are some advocates for giving northern England a degree of freedom, and London has been given its own mayor and council.
Cameron said Friday: “We now have a chance – a great opportunity – to change the way the British people are governed, and change it for the better.” While giving few specifics, the prime minister said: “Just as Scotland will vote separately in the Scottish Parliament on their issues of tax, spending and welfare, so too England, as well as Wales and Northern Ireland, should be able to vote on these issues.”
What now for Alex Salmond, Scotland’s First Minister?
True, Salmond’s lifelong dream of leading Scotland to independence has been dashed – and he has acknowledged this was probably a once-in-a-generation opportunity. But Salmond has bounced back from setbacks before. His single-minded pursuit of independence inspired many Scots. The message is: Don’t count him out.