The votes had barely finished being counted in the Scottish referendum before the united front presented by the main U.K. political parties started to crack.
After working together to secure a No vote in the Scottish independence referendum. Prime Minister David Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party, broke ranks Friday from the Labour and Liberal parties to offer English MPs more powers over laws which only affect England. This was seen as a move that would benefit his own lawmakers, who draw much of their support from the South of England. Opposition politicians immediately sprang to criticise him.
“He sees this all as a short term gain about politics – it’s actually a long-term reform about fairness,” Ed Balls, shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer for the opposition Labour Party, told CNBC.
Support for Labour is much stronger in Scotland, and its Scottish MPs have helped push through some key policies in previous governments.
“A Labour government would be a lame duck (without Scottish MPs)” Hans Redeker, global head of foreign exchange strategy at Morgan Stanley, told CNBC.
The “West Lothian question” — of whether Scottish MPs should be able to vote on issues which only apply south of the Scottish border while having exclusive power over their own country — has become a more vexed issue in the U.K. in recent years.
Another bone of contention is the “Barnett formula” used to calculate how government spending is divided between the different parts of the U.K., which many English MPs believe unfairly favors Scotland at the moment.
Like Northern Ireland and Wales, Scotland has a separately elected parliament which has devolved power over certain policy areas. The “devo max” offered by the No campaign in the final days of the referendum would grant Scotland even greater powers to run its own affairs, although defense and foreign affairs are likely to continue being governed across the U.K.
While markets breathed a sigh of relief on Friday after the No vote was announced, the political fault lines it exposed have deepened concerns about the U.K. as a safe haven.
“This uncertainty is going to reduce inward investment in the U.K.,” Redeker said.
“We may have to live with increased uncertainty on the vote around membership of the European Union…The risk premium in sterling is going to stay high.”