Friday, 3 October 2014

Breaking up is hard to do

While it’s not Scots away, Will Mooney, Carter Jonas partner and head of its commercial agency and professional services in the eastern region, wonders what the genie might get up to if it refuses to go back in its bottle.

Being Northern Irish, I’m no stranger to the damaging effects of political division and and the negative economic impact schism can have on successive generations. I’d suggest that those of us with Celtic origins followed Scotland’s Independence Referendum with a keener eye than our Anglo-Saxon peers – at least until that September weekend when that poll mobilised Westminster’s biggest guns.

The financial markets reacted in the way they always do to uncertainty. Yet, at the same time, how could a ‘little local difficulty’ in the United Kingdom influence global capital and currency markets when there is so much else going on on the international stage?

Cue a number of high profile businesses and corporate interests who expressed their concern or hinted what the consequences might be if expected to do business with, or in, a post-independent Caledonia.

Pro-independence business commentators countered by making the distinction between uncertainty and risk. Do people become entrepreneurs because they take risks or do you have to be a risk taker, first, in order to become an entreprenuer? What has to be certain before a risk becomes designated as a calculated risk and, thereby, worth taking?

In these weeks following the referendum result, there is the sense that many of the old certainties of The Union have gone or are going or are changing or are being challenged.

Not being sophisticated in the ways of psephology, I can’t say whether a 10 per cent differential in favour of remaining part of the United Kingdom is a close run thing or not. But there’s no denying that the referendum debate, has opened-up another layer of debate about a more federated British Isles.

It’s to be hoped that this opening will not become a fissure because, apart from anything else, that’s not our style of doing things in any part of Britain.

The turbo-charged timescale suggested for further devolutionary powers for Scotland - more Devo-medium than Devo-max, as it turns out - promised by the three mainstream party leaders pre-referendum has raised some eyebrows, not least of all those of the Whitehall mandarins who will be charged in getting legislation through in time for Burn’s Night on 25 January, or not.

Will Mooney MRICS

Commercial, Cambridge

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