United Kingdom(s)? Scotland's Referendum and Britain's Future

Wed 5 Mar 2014, 00:00

The British Academy, 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AH

A public event to discuss the historical, legal and constitutional issues around the referendum on Scottish independence.

"In a few months time the UK could look very different. This important event will include contributions from some of the country's leading academics on the constitutional future of the United Kingdom."

- Sally Magnusson, BBC


The seminar addressed the resilience and possible evolution of the constitutional union between Scotland and the other parts of the United Kingdom. It took account of historical development since the 1707 foundation and will assess contemporary trends, in particular the Scottish independence referendum scheduled for September 2014.

The referendum choice is one that is clear and decisive in principle - either an independent Scottish state or continued membership of the United Kingdom. Yet in practice the range of constitutional options is more varied and less settled. Even within an independent Scotland, some aspects of the present union may continue - monarchical, currency, social, cultural. What are the limits to this? Equally, even within a continuing United Kingdom, we can envisage more autonomous institutional and economic arrangements for Scotland. What limits exist in such an arrangement, and how might it affect the integrity of the United Kingdom as a whole? The seminar seeks to highlight these more detailed constitutional questions, some of which have received little attention in UK-wide debate to date.

In broader terms, the goal of the event was to contribute meaningfully to the constitutional debate with a measured analysis of the evidence and the available options.

The event was introduced by Dr Robin Jackson, Chief Executive of the British Academy.

Professor Neil Walker FBA FRSE (Edinburgh) hosted the event and the debate and Q&A was chaired by the BBC's Sally Magnusson. 


Professor Michael Keating FBA FRSE (Aberdeen)
Professor Adam Tomkins (Glasgow)
Professor Vernon Bogdanor CBE FBA (King’s College London)
Professor John Curtice FRSA FRSE (Strathclyde)

This is the last session in the series of joint events by the British Academy and the Royal Society of Edinburgh on Enlightening the Constitutional Debate

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