History was made on Friday, Sept. 18 when Scotland voted to remain a part of the United Kingdom in a decision that produced a huge sigh of relief for London and averted an uncertain future for Scotland.
According to CNN, 55 percent of Scottish voters voted against independence.The margin was greater than expected by pre-vote polling.
The vote for independence garnered an unprecedented 84 percent of the voter population, according to USA Today. This vote was the first of its kind and could have ended Scotland’s 307-year relationship with England.
The result spares the United Kingdom from the loss of a third of its landmass, eight percent of its population and international prestige and power on the world stage.
A separation would have potentially weakened the role of Scotland in the European Union and NATO, the status of the British pound and the fate of assets, ranging from North Sea oil to nuclear submarines.
The outcome was a disappointment for those of the “Yes” campaign; these were the proponents of Scottish independence.
According to the New York Times, Alex Salmond, the Scottish First Minister and leader of the “Yes” movement, insisted the 1.6 million people who voted for independence showed the depth of yearning for the political powers promised to Scotland by British political leaders to stave off disunion.
Salmond has since resigned from his post of Scottish First Minister because of the vote.
Scotland has had a devolved government since 1999. This means the majority of decisions are made by the Scottish Parliament.
Two years ago, British Prime Minister David Cameron agreed to allow the vote because support for independence was low at the time.
Over the past two weeks as the independence movement grew before the vote, Cameron promised to give the Scottish government more powers, such as the powers over tax, spending and social welfare, if Scotland stayed in the United Kingdom.
Now, English leaders must push these reforms through a currently inhospitable Parliament, according to CNN.
The vote takes much of the pressure off of Cameron. Critics say he was too complacent during the early portions of the independence movement, and then gave away too much once the movement gained in strength and numbers, according to CNN.
Cameron said in a press conference, “the people of Scotland have spoken and it is a clear result. They have kept our country of four nations together, and like millions of other people, I am delighted. It would have broken my heart to see our United Kingdom come to an end.”
Had the Scottish people voted for independence, many actions would have needed to take place to form a stable country. A constitution would have been written, treaties renegotiated and a new national currency developed.
Editor’s Note: Information from CNN, USA Today and the New York Times was used in this report.