Alistair Carmichael, the Northern Isles' MP, has insisted few Orcadians and Shetlanders support independence and are disenchanted by the centralising control of Edinburgh.
The Coalition Government's deputy chief whip said that if Scots voted to leave the UK the 38,000 or so voters of the Northern Isles would want a second ballot over whether they remain in the UK.
In their submission to the Scottish Government's consultation on the referendum, Mr Carmichael's party colleagues, Tavish Scott and Liam McArthur, MSPs for LibDem strongholds Orkney and Shetland, suggested the islands might want to stay in the union.
During the recent passage of the Scotland Bill giving Holyrood more tax powers, the Earl of Caithness put forward an amendment that a yes vote in the referendum in 2014 should only be binding on the people of Orkney and Shetland if they were to vote by a majority for it. One major significance of a vote to stay part of the UK would be the issue of the islands' oil and gas, estimated to be around one third of what would be Scotland's majority share of North Sea reserves, providing income of £1.5 billion a year.
If a newly-independent Scotland were deprived of such a sum, it would have a significant impact on its fiscal position.
In recent evidence to the House of Lords Economic Committee when it was inquiring into the implications of Scottish independence, Robert Rowthorn, Emeritus Professor of Economics at Cambridge University, estimated that the oil and gas share from Orkney and Shetland represented about 30% of total Scottish reserves, which would be lost to an independent Scotland should the Northern Isles vote to stay with the UK.
Mr Carmichael said: "The concern in the Northern Isles has always been about the centralisation of government.
"That seemed initially to have stopped with the creation of the Scottish Parliament but has accelerated massively under the SNP.
"As the shape of our constitution is discussed, it is now right for the people of Orkney and Shetland to ask whether or not they could have more control of their own affairs as part of a devolved Scotland within the UK or as part of an independent Scotland."
The leading LibDem MP stressed that what was now needed on the islands was a community-based discussion similar to that which took place across Scotland in the 1990s with the establishment of the constitutional convention.
"There has not been much discussion about the position of the Northern Isles post independence because few people in Orkney and Shetland favour separation," said Mr Carmichael. "But if Scotland voted yes to separation and the process of consultation were to continue, then clearly people here would want to choose for themselves where their constitutional future lay.
"If that required a further referendum in the Northern Isles on our own position, then there would be nobody in Edinburgh who would have the right to deny us."
The frontbencher pointed out how Orkney and Shetland had their own distinctive character, their own land laws and were more Nordic than Celtic, having been provinces of Norway before 1471.
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