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UK to face make-up or break-up choice

Friday, May 08, 2015 - 02:08

A shock surge in Thursday's UK election for David Cameron's Conservatives and the SNP's near clean sweep in Scotland revives the spectre of a possible British breakaway from Europe - and the break-up of Britain itself. David Pollard reports.

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VE day across Europe. Seventy years on from World War Two, a day to acknowledge the union of a continent. But not perhaps take it for granted. A shock surge by the Conservative Party in England potentially puts the UK on the road to an EU referendum. The Scottish National Party's dominance north of the border revives doubts over a 300-year old Scottish marriage with England. After a heady night of vote counting, the United Kingdom's now awake to the reality it may not be so united after all. Mike Ingram of BGC Partners. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BGC MARKET ANALYST, MIKE INGRAM, SAYING: ''I think the union is toast if you look at it on a five-year view for instance. The SNP will argue that they have got a significant mandate to move once again to a referendum on independence.'' Another Scottish vote so soon after last year's referendum: others say that's not so likely. But the Conservatives: they campaigned on a pledge to renegotiate with Europe. Leader David Cameron now has little choice but to set out a road map for that - and for a 2017 referendum promised if he doesn't get a new deal. The stakes high for him, the UK and the rest of Europe. Raoul Ruparel of the Open Europe think tank. SOUNDBITE (English) RAOUL RUPAREL, HEAD OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH, OPEN EUROPE, SAYING: ''A referendum bill will be one of the first things that Cameron tables under his new government, mostly because he wants to push it through quickly so he has time to negotiate with Europe, but also because it'll be easier to push through when the LibDems and Labour in opposition are in disarray.'' So will a referendum happen? A rising economy means falling euro-scepticism among British voters. That's Cameron's hope, says Dominic Johnson of Somerset Capital. SOUNDBITE (English) DOMINIC JOHNSON, CEO, SOMERSET CAPITAL MANAGEMENT, SAYING: ''We believe in the value that Europe offers us. And if we can get quite a good negotiation, even if we don't get all the things we want, I still think that Britain will be contented to be part of a trading bloc that has clearly benefitted us.'' The Scottish question: that, says Johnson, could introduce a barely talked about idea in British politics. SOUNDBITE (English) DOMINIC JOHNSON, CEO, SOMERSET CAPITAL MANAGEMENT, SAYING: ''We're going to have a really complicated conversation about the concept of federalism in the UK, how that will work, and whether that will really benefit us ... There's no question that the direction of travel is for greater fiscal autonomy for Scotland.'' Scotland's independence mettle may reveal itself again in its own parliamentary election next year. Cameron is expected to try to push his referendum bill through parliament in the remainder of this year.

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UK to face make-up or break-up choice

Friday, May 08, 2015 - 02:08