Britain: A different – and riskier – country

As the Scottish referendum campaign entered its final stretch, the polls suggested a narrow No vote, tempers frayed, and the markets seemed paralysed with nerves.

The media has been chewing over the three party leaders’ vow to maintain the Barnett formula (which ensures public spending per head stays higher in Scotland than in England) if Scotland chose to stay in the UK.

That came on top of devo max, which would transfer far more autonomy to Scotland, including full tax-raising powers.

What the commentators said

Regardless of Scotland’s decision, this is “the end of the United Kingdom as we have known it”, said The Independent. This is a “new, looser kingdom”. New constitutional arrangements “lying somewhere between a properly federal system and the old unitary model, will develop”. But get set for a bumpy ride, said Dan Hodges on

Gordon Brown, Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg drew up a constitution “on the back of a fag packet” by promising the Scots home rule and an English “blank cheque” to go with it. Already there are calls for autonomy for English regions.

This mess is due to the “fools and charlatans” who govern England and Scotland, said Sean Thomas on The prime minister “thinks he is cleverer than he actually is”, while Miliband is “a gormless muppet”. Alex Salmond, however, is a serial liar who trumps both.

All these people may soon be gone or marginalised. But the basic problem for investors will remain, as Merryn Somerset Webb pointed out in our free daily email Money Morning: uncertainty, volatility, and a severe dent in our reputation as one of the world’s investment safe havens.

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