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Can an Independent Scotland, Free of London's Dominance, Survive?

The U.K. is more centralized than any other major power. While many in Scotland want to escape London’s grip, freedom has its consequences
Can an Independent Scotland, Free of London's Dominance, Survive?
British banknote: AKG-Images/Ullstein Bild; Hat: Lisa Kyle Young/iStock

A dark star, in theory, is a sun so dense that its gravitational field overpowers light itself, sucking in every ray that attempts to escape its surface. Much like Greater London, says Alex Salmond, the first minister of Scotland who’s leading the drive for independence in a Sept. 18 referendum, the outcome of which has become too close to call. In a March speech in Edinburgh, Salmond quoted a professor named Tony Travers, who said, “London is the dark star of the economy, inexorably sucking in resources, people, and energy. Nobody quite knows how to control it.”

Scots are already free to eat haggis, drink Irn-Bru, and toss poles. They have their own parliament and courts. But they can’t escape London’s orbit, and they aren’t happy about it. Those campaigning for “yes” in the referendum promise that independence would finally give Scotland escape velocity, and make it, in Salmond’s words, “a northern light to redress the influence of the dark star—rebalancing the economic center of gravity of these islands.”