By a Newsnet reporter
First Minister Alex Salmond will use his speech in Carlisle this evening, marking St George’s Day, to highlight the strong and enduring friendship that will continue between Scotland, England and the rest of the UK, following independence.
In his speech, the First Minister will tell his audience that the social and family ties that bind people on both sides of the border will endure after Scottish independence.
The First Minister is expected to say:
“The ties that bind the nations of these islands will continue and flourish after Scotland becomes independent. You will remain Scotland’s closest friends, as well as our closest neighbours. Following independence, the social union between the peoples of these islands will remain.
“People would still live in Annan and work in Carlisle, or live in Penrith and work in Lockerbie. Friends and family would continue to visit each other. We would still watch many of the same television programmes. People from Scotland and England would still celebrate personal unions – by getting married in Carlisle Cathedral or perhaps by going to Gretna instead!
“On Monday, there were gun salutes in Stirling, Edinburgh and London to mark the Queen’s birthday. That would continue, since we would still share a monarchy with the rest of the United Kingdom – just as we did for a century before the Parliamentary Union of 1707, and just as 16 other Commonwealth countries do now.
“Carlisle would still have strong trade and transport links with Scotland. We would continue to share the same currency.
“And we would co-operate on the many issues where we share common interests.”
The First Minister will also say that an independent Scotland will be a powerful economic counterweight to London, helping to rebalance growth across the British Isles.
Mr Salmond will announce a series of special Borderlands Economic forums that will take place following a Yes vote in September’s referendum.
He will add: “An independent Scotland will be an economic counterweight to London and the south east of England – causing a much needed and fundamental rebalancing of these islands.
“We have more top universities per head of population than any other country on the planet; we have huge expertise in engineering and life sciences; an astounding cultural heritage; immense energy and natural resources; and a skilled and inventive people. But we’re part of a UK which has become profoundly imbalanced.
“An independent Scotland will work in collaboration with our friends and colleagues in the north of England to improve economic circumstances and job opportunities for all our citizens. This sentiment is reflected in attitudes on both sides of the border. In July 2013 the Association of North East Councils and Cumbria commissioned academic research from the University of Northumbria. Their ‘Borderlands’ report recommended ‘collaborative working across the local authorities on both sides of the border’.
“In this very spirit I can therefore confirm that following a Yes vote in the referendum, the Scottish Government will host a series of special forums on economic co-operation with the north of England, and we will invite representatives from local authorities and business organisations in the north of England to participate. It is a practical demonstration of co-operation and partnership between us – a partnership which will be strengthened by an outward looking, prosperous, independent Scotland.”