Alex Massie

Referendum Questions: The 1707 Edition

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Now that the Conservatives have promised a referendum on any future transfers of power to Brussels and have, in general, become fans of referenda perhaps the party leadership can address the other looming referendum issue: that pertaining to the Act of Union of 1707.

Perhaps you can be in favour of a referendum on Lisbon and other EU matters and opposed to a Scottish independence referendum but I confess to finding this combination implausible and unsatisfactory. Furthermore, a referendum is clearly popular: polling suggests that roughly 60% of voters want such a vote and that they want it sooner rather than later.

This being so, and in light of recent developments, I'd be interested in hearing David Cameron (and Annabel Goldie) explain why referenda are important on Europe - and why we'd be having one if Lisbon had not been ratified - but out of the question when it comes to the future of the United Kingdom.

The argument, I suppose, is that there's a fear that the referendum wouldn't settle anything. But even Quebec's status was settled after a second vote and, anyway, Alex Salmond himself has repeatedly conceded that an independence referendum would be a "once in a generation affair" not a "neverendum".

Equally, I don't understand why the Tories won't embrace a Caledonian referendum. And the sooner the better for some of the reasons outline here. Their current position may or may not be bad politics (I think it is) but it certainly makes little sense.

Additionally: a quick question for those readers who always say "England should have a vote too!" - were there to be an "In or Out?" referendum on Birtish membership of the EU, do you think the Spanish and the French and the Germand and the Poles and so on should have a vote on that question too?

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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