Speed Reads

Scotland Decides

If Scotland secedes from Britain, parts of Scotland may secede from Scotland

Polls suggest the Scottish referendum today on independence is going to be very close. A spate of polls in the last two days have put the "Yes" campaign at 48 percent of the vote, and the "no" campaign on 52 percent, but with many voters still undecided and a high turnout expected, anything is possible.

Of course, if Scotland actually does secede from the U.K., things may get even crazier still. With such a close race, some regions and cities are bound to vote differently.

One region of particular significance — not least because it has a lot of the oil that the "yes" campaign has built their independence campaign upon — is already considering independence from Scotland. Alistair Carmichael, the Liberal Democrat MP for Orkney and Shetland and the Scotland Secretary in the current British government told The Guardian that in the event of Scotland voting yes and Shetland voting no, "Shetland may consider becoming a self-governing territory like the Isle of Man rather than stay part of an independent Scotland."

The "Yes" campaign responded to Carmichael's comments by claiming that "Scotland's island communities will have greater control over their local economies, natural environment, and be represented at the heart of government in an independent Scotland." But that might not be satisfactory for communities that vote against independence.

Asked if he was suggesting that the "Yes" campaign should not take for granted that oil fields off Shetland will belong to Scotland in the event of a yes vote, Carmichael said: "That would be one of the things that we would want to discuss. I wouldn't like to predict at this stage where the discussions would go."

All of these matters would be up for negotiation in a final settlement between the government of Scotland and the rest of the U.K. following a "Yes" vote.