As you will know, yesterday’s referendum on Scotland’s constitutional future resulted in a majority vote to stay in the United Kingdom.
The Prime Minister said this morning:
The people of Scotland have spoken. It is a clear result. They have kept our country of four nations together.
So now it is time for our United Kingdom to come together, and to move forward. A vital part of that will be a balanced settlement – fair to people in Scotland and importantly to everyone in England, Wales and Northern Ireland as well.
We now have a chance – a great opportunity – to change the way the British people are governed, and change it for the better. Political leaders on all sides of the debate now bear a heavy responsibility to come together and work constructively to advance the interests of people in Scotland, as well as those in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, for each and every citizen of our United Kingdom.
The three pro-union parties have made commitments on further powers for the Scottish Parliament. We will ensure that they are honoured.
Just as the people of Scotland will have more power over their affairs, so it follows that the people of England, Wales and Northern Ireland must have a bigger say over theirs. The rights of these voters need to be respected, preserved and enhanced as well. It is absolutely right that a new and fair settlement for Scotland should be accompanied by a new and fair settlement that applies to all parts of our United Kingdom.
This referendum has been hard fought. It has stirred strong passions. It has electrified politics in Scotland, and caught the imagination of people across the whole of our United Kingdom.
Record numbers registered to vote and record numbers cast their vote. We can all be proud of that. It has reminded us how fortunate we are that we are able to settle these vital issues at the ballot box, peacefully and calmly.
Now we must look forward, and turn this into the moment when everyone – whichever way they voted – comes together to build that better, brighter future for our entire United Kingdom.
In line with the Edinburgh Agreement, the First Minister of Scotland has accepted the results of the referendum on behalf of the Scottish Government and has pledged to work constructively in the interests of Scotland and the rest of the UK.
The referendum was unprecedented in our history, and it placed unique demands on the Civil Service to serve two Governments with differing visions of Scotland’s constitutional future. We rose to that challenge and continued to work together in a collaborative way where appropriate or necessary. Peter Housden and I have spoken this morning to carry this momentum forward.
This is a moment for me to say thank you to all of the civil servants working for the UK and Scottish Governments for your commitment and hard work throughout this period. We must now all maintain a high level of focus and professionalism as discussions begin on further devolution for Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom.
Main image: Fr Lawrence OP under Creative Commons