By Hugo Dixon
Hugo Dixon is Editor-at-Large, Reuters News. The opinions expressed are his own.
With Scotland voting to stay part of the United Kingdom, attention will turn to the next potential British referendum: on whether the country will remain in the European Union. David Cameron has promised to hold an In/Out referendum on the EU if he is re-elected as prime minister in next year’s general election. There are comparisons and contrasts between the two votes, as well as lessons to be learned.
If Scotland had voted to quit Britain, the influence of both Scotland and the rump UK would have been diminished. Scotland’s economy would have been damaged. The divorce would also have been acrimonious.
Many British politicians have been happy to deploy such arguments when seeking to prevent a schism with Scotland. But some are so deeply eurosceptic that they are not willing to take on board parallel arguments about the effect of a schism between the UK and the EU.
Look at the influence point. It is hard to see how the international standing of either the UK or the rump EU would be enhanced by Britain’s exit, or “Brexit.” Vladimir Putin would be delighted at the disarray on Russia’s Western front. Think, too, how much harder it would be for a fractured Europe to construct a proper policy for confronting extremism in the Middle East.