TIME Scotland

JK Rowling Doesn’t Want an Independent Scotland

The author of the Harry Potter books, JK Rowling, has donated $1.68m to the Better Together campaign which opposes independence for Scotland

JK Rowling has donated $1.68 million (1 million pounds) to the campaign against Scottish independence from the United Kingdom, the BBC reports. The Better Together campaign is being run by Alistair Darling, the author’s friend and former Labour chancellor.

On 18 September, Scottish voters will be invited to vote “yes” or “no” to the question: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”

Rowling, who was born in England but has lived in Edinburgh, Scotland for over 20 years, explained her decision to support the “no” campaign in a 1,289 word post on her website.

Seemingly careful to avoid causing offense, Rowling stressed that “there are intelligent, thoughtful people on both sides of this question.” However, the author added “there is a fringe of nationalists who like to demonise anyone who is not blindly and unquestionably pro-independence.”

Recognizing that she might not be seen as truly Scottish by nationalists, whom she labelled “a little Death Eaterish” in reference to a wraithlike creature from her Harry Potter novels, Rowling emphasized: “I happen to think that this country is exceptional, too.”

She went on, however, to add: “The simple truth is that Scotland is subject to the same twenty-first century pressures as the rest of the world… The more I listen to the Yes campaign, the more I worry about its minimisation and even denial of risks.”

Rowling is not the first big donor to enter the debate. Earlier this year, lottery winners Colin and Chris Weir donated £1m to the Scottish National Party who support independence.

Margaret Curran, the shadow Scottish secretary, thanked Rowling for her donation. She commented: ““It doesn’t take a wizard to work out that Alex Salmond’s case for breaking up the UK simply isn’t a risk worth taking.”

[BBC]

TIME Scotland

Scottish Independence Could Put Whisky Makers on the Rocks, Study Says

Daily Life On Orkney
Dave Reid inspects the quality of the heather filled peat, from Hobbister Moor, in Highland Park whisky distillery on May 30, 2014 in Kirkwall, Scotland. Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert—Getty Images

A vote for Scottish independence could expose local distilleries to costly and unpredictable swings in foreign exchange rates, a new report warns

A new study suggests a Scottish vote in favor of independence could boomerang on one of the nation’s proudest exports: Scotch whisky.

Analysts from Bank of America Merrill Lynch say that Scotland’s upcoming vote for independence on September 18th risks severing the nation from the British pound, forcing it to create its own currency and casting it into a brave new world of fluctuating exchange rates. Whisky makers, in particular, could absorb the brunt of the shocks. They account for the nation’s second largest export and ship to roughly 200 countries around the world, according to the report.

“At present, the large producers typically invoice Scotch whisky in U.S. dollars,” the authors wrote. “As such the main transactional FX risk faced is the movement in Sterling/US$ which is typically hedged on a 12 month basis. A volatile currency would likely be more difficult and expensive to hedge making pricing and planning decisions harder. “

That would mean a possible contraction of investment, fewer barrels of Scotch and a slightly less satisfied global population of Scotch drinkers.

TIME Foreign Policy

Obama Opposes Scotland Independence

The President said he wants the U.K. to remain a "strong, robust, united" ally

President Barack Obama came out against Scottish independence on Thursday, voicing support for a unified U.K. as Scotland gears up for a September referendum.

“We obviously have a deep interest in making sure that one of the closest allies that we will ever have remains a strong, robust, united and effective partner,” Obama said in Brussels. “But ultimately these are decisions that are going to be made by the folks there.”

The Scottish electorate will vote on independence on Sept. 18. The Scottish government hadn’t responded to Obama’s comments as of early Thursday afternoon, but at least one former official was surprised that he weighed in.

“I’m surprised that he has stepped into this,” the former U.K. diplomat Lord Malloch-Brown said, according to BBC. “I don’t think it will be very helpful for anybody.”

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