UK intact but constitutional battles loom: press



LONDON, James Pheby- Britain's press on Saturday heaved a sigh of relief over Scotland's decision to stay in the United Kingdom, but any thoughts of triumphalism were extinguished by concerns about the upcoming constitutional battle triggered by the campaign.
While Scotland's papers carried front-page photographs of Scottish National Party boss and independence champion Alex Salmond, the constitutional fights ahead dominated England's papers such as the Independent, which ran the headline: "Disunited Kingdom".



The Daily Mail front-page demanded "English votes for English laws" while the Guardian's headline declared: "Now the battle moves to England".
Despite a surge in nationalist support in the final two weeks of the Scottish campaign, the "No" camp secured 55.30 percent of the vote in Thursday's independence referendum against 44.70 percent for the "Yes" camp.
Worried by the prospect of a nationalist victory, British Prime Minister David Cameron made last-ditch promises to give more powers over tax, spending and welfare to the devolved government in Edinburgh, but then vowed more rights for English voters when the result was declared.
But negotiations are unlikely to go smoothly, with Westminster's three parties are in disagreement over how much power should be devolved, and also whether English voters should be compensated similarly.
- 'Close-run thing' -
"This is no time for triumphalism," warned the Financial Times editorial. "Scotland's rejection of secession is not the end of Britain's constitutional debate. A new settlement is needed."
The business paper stressed that the settlement had to decide what role Scottish MPs should play at Westminster and whether there be greater devolution within England.
"The Union is safe, but it was a close-run thing," said the Daily Telegraph. "For now, we should celebrate the referendum result and hope that the divisions the campaign caused can be quickly healed, though that may be hard to achieve.
"Cameron's statement that England must have the same deal as Scotland has profound consequences for governance in the UK," added the centre-right publication's leading article.
It predicted that the United Kingdom would in future "be less a union and more a federation" but noted that the intense campaign had focused voters "on the inestimable value of the precious commodity we possess and which mercifully remains intact."
Centre-left broadsheet The Guardian agreed that the whole political system underpinning the union needed to be changed, given 45 percent of Scottish voters wanted out, but suggested they may have voted on more personal grounds.
"We should not kid ourselves... the grievances that animated this campaign were above all material rather than constitutional," said its editorial.
"The economic model which dominates the lives of Scots is broken. Nationalism offered an escape, but it was one with too many risks.
"Yet the economic model is still broken and is still at the root of discontents that should unite England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, not force them apart," it concluded.
Scotland's papers were meanwhile still focusing on the defeat, with the Telegraph headline reading: "Salmond throws in the towel", in reference to the SNP boss' announcement that he would quit following defeat.
The Times in Scotland declared it "The end of a dream".
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Saturday, September 20th 2014
James Pheby
           


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