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The state of the union

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The state of the union

The Scottish parliamentary election is on Thursday 6 May, with the Scottish National Party expected to take the largest share of the votes.

Large scale support for the SNP could have major implications for the state of the union. On Monday 3 May, the Telegraph reported that the Conservative government is seriously concerned about support for a second referendum on Scottish independence. It is developing plans to strengthen ties with Scotland by boosting pan-UK transport infrastructure, investing in healthcare and encouraging educational exchange.

This week we’re showcasing research and commentary from our associates relevant to these plans:

Investing in infrastructure

Marta Santamaria has assessed the government’s interim report on union connectivity. She argues that while a pan-UK approach is refreshing, a failure to respond to the changes brought about by Brexit and a lack of global vision could weaken the resilience and flexibility of the plans.

Could support for educational exchanges help to strengthen the union?

Research by Manuel Bagues and Christopher Roth suggests that educational exchanges encouraging interregional contact could have a long-term positive effect. In a study of the Spanish conscription lottery, they found that young people who served outside their home region developed a stronger sense of national identity and sympathy for other regions. These effects were found among young people who came from regions with a strong sense of national identity and a history of separatist movements. Significantly, the effects lasted into late adulthood.

Better together?

Recent research by Marta Santamaria with Jaume Ventura and Uğur Yeşilbayraktar has considered the effect of country borders on trade flows within the EU. The researchers found that country borders in the EU reduce trade across regions by 80%. These findings could be important for understanding the potential impact of Scottish independence on trade and connectivity.