The nationalist effort in Scotland was defeated 45 percent to 55 percent, but now a new debate begins over increasing devolved power to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has wasted no time in reiterating republican calls for a border poll, while DUP First Minister Peter Robinson has rejected the idea. The Belfast Telegraph reports:
Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers can call a border poll at any time, according to the 1998 Good Friday agreement that brought about peace. It also specifies that the cabinet minister shall order a referendum if it appears likely that a majority of those voting would seek to form part of a united Ireland. The proportion of Protestants has fallen to 48% from 53% 10 years ago, census data showed, while the proportion of Catholics increased to 45% from 44%.
Of course, not all Catholics would want a united Ireland, and surely some Protestants would quietly vote to break from the U.K., especially if the Irish economy continues to rebound, as discussed in my previous post.
Here’s another thought piece about some of the calculations in Northern Ireland, written before the vote, including whether London wants to keep its bond with Ulster. How strongly does Dublin want the six counties?
At the very least there is going to be a lot of discussion about devolving more power to Belfast, especially corporate tax rates. The Irish Times reports:
The big focus initially will be on whether the British government now allows the Northern Executive to bring corporation tax here in line with the general 12.5 per cent rate that applies in the South. David Cameron has already promised that he would make a decision on corporation tax soon after the completion of the referendum.
Many economists and most politicians believe that reducing the level of corporation tax from its current general figure of 21 per cent would be a “game changer” for Northern Ireland: it would boost international investment and create thousands more jobs.