Christoph Heinemann: Britain’s ambassador to Germany, Simon Macdonald, listened. Happy day!
Simon McDonald: Good afternoon, Mr Heinemann.
Heinemann: Ambassador, are you relieved?
McDonald’s: I’m happy. I think that was the best event. It was a clear victory, a clear yes for the Union. And that helps the whole of Britain.
Heinemann: Have the threats of politics and business worked?
McDonald’s: Maybe this is your analysis.
Heinemann: That was my question!
McDonald’s: I don’t know for sure, but I think the most important factor in the end was the economic situation, the economic position of Scotland within Great Britain, within Europe. and international reputation. Scotland is stronger as part of Great Britain than it is being independent as a country.
Heinemann: But the London government had already built up pressure.
McDonald’s: In London the government has offered more autonomy, it is true. And today a new process has started. But we’ll have to wait a little longer for the details. Sure, it’s about tax policy, social spending and so on. But there is greater autonomy for Scotland and other parts of Britain.
Heinemann: The other part – does this mean that the UK is becoming more federal?
McDonald’s: I think so. Germany can be a role model, it is not the only role model, but we are becoming more decentralized.
Heinemann: Ambassador, the UK government woke up late only to see a rise in the Yes camp in the polls. Did London underestimate this referendum?
McDonald’s: I do not think so. I think this decentralization process has been going on for many years. It started with a parliament in Edinburgh at the end of the last century. The transfer of powers from London to Scotland is a long process. Today a new phase has started here.
Heinemann: a new stage. Angus Robertson, a member of the British House of Commons, sits there for the Scottish National Party. He recently explained to us that Scotland is the most important Western European oil producer as well as life expectancy in parts of Glasgow below that of the Gaza Strip. Does the Government of London care little for the citizens of the North?
McDonald’s: I think the government in London looks after Scotland like any other British. We have problems, of course, but not only in Glasgow, but also in major cities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. And the government takes care of all the Britons.
Heinemann: But do you understand that people living in such neighbourhoods, in a potentially very prosperous country, are fed up with London?
McDonald’s: That was a sign of Glasgow. Glasgow and Dundee voted for independence, but these two cities are the only two parts of Scotland. There are a total of 32 counties in Scotland and 28 have voted for the union.
Heinemann: Scotland is now divided into 45 by 55. How can you bridge the gap?
McDonald’s: Sure it’s divided, but in the end the result was pretty clear. The union won far and wide. Ten percent is a clear victory. But now we have to look ahead. The election campaign was very important and the result was very exciting. But work, work for the future is most important today.
Heinemann: Ambassador, let’s look further. Most Scots are pro-European. In the near future, the British majority in the UK may vote for Great Britain to leave the European Union. Will the Scots have to offer then and live with it?
McDonald’s: This is pure speculation. The referendum is behind us. If the Conservatives win next year, a second referendum is likely. But it has happened in two or three years and I don’t think there is any connection between these two referendums. But Scots are probably a little more pro-European than other British peoples. And because they live, it helps the pro-European people in the UK as a whole.
Heinemann: But could it be that the pro-European Scots will have to leave the EU along with the rest of the state?
McDonald’s: Like I said, this is pure speculation. That is a question for another day.
Heinemann: Mr McDonald, will you allow me a more personal question?
Heinemann: Your surname sounds suspiciously Scottish to us normal Germans. Do you also feel a little sorry about the result of the referendum?
McDonald’s: off course not. My name is actually the most famous Scottish name, but my family is a British family. I was born in England, I am British and I am proud of it and for me personally this result was the best and I am really happy.
Heinemann: So there is no family ties beyond Hadrian’s Wall?
McDonald’s: I have family ties and my family is happy too.
Heinemann: Britain’s Ambassador to Germany Simon MacDonald. Thanks for the interview and bye!
McDonald’s: Thanks a lot.
The statements of our interlocutors reflect their own views. Deutschlandfunk does not consider the statements made by its interlocutors in interviews and discussions as its own.
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