Secret Downing Street memo reveals Shock & Awe plan
With some polls indicating the referendum race is becoming too close to call, the leaking of a secret Downing Street memo has revealed that not only is David Cameron contemplating the possibility of defeat, but that his aides are suggesting a raft of shock and awe tactics within 24 hours of a Yes vote.
The memo, written by an unnamed senior civil servant, advises the Prime Minister that a Yes vote would be incredibly damaging not only to him personally, but to the chances of the Conservative Party being re-elected in May 2015.
The memo lists a tranche of dramatic measures that Westminster should immediately implement following the vote, to seize the news cycle, restore the Prime Minister's credibility and instantaneously prick the bubble of SNP celebration.
'If the voters of Scotland want independence, then let's not make them wait. They can have it, starting at 9am on 19th September 2014,' the memo begins.
It then lists more than 20 dramatic interventions the government should make, including:
• setting up controls on all cross-border roads
• building a fence the length of the border
• suspending or blocking all flights to and from Scotland
• closing down all UK government offices in Scotland
• stopping all funding to Holyrood
• redeploying all troops south of the border
• use UK influence and veto to block Scotland's membership of all international organisations including, but not limited to, the UN, WHO, the EU, NATO, FIFA, UEFA and the Eurovision Song Contest
• remove as much hard currency as possible from Scotland, meaning that supplies of the pound would quickly dwindle, forcing the hurried introduction of the Scottish Imperial Shekel or a barter system
• take every action open to them to crush the Scottish economy
Political analysts, such as Dr Ian Shackleton of the Glasgow School of Politics and Football, are in no doubt that plans to immediately eject Scotland from the union are being seriously considered.
'This isn't about project fear or scaremongering,' he told me this morning, as we talked in his 98th floor office in the new Lulu Memorial Tower at the heart of Glasgow's bucolic north side.
'The leaking of this memo was not supposed to happen. These ideas are a genuine consideration, stemming from genuine resentment and bitterness. Imagine how England is going to feel the day after a Yes vote. They're going to have been dumped, and it's happened on Cameron's watch.
'Hundreds of years from now the likes of Blair and Brown and Major will have long been forgotten, but the name Cameron will be remembered forever as the man who lost the Union. Only by acting quickly will he be able to save his premiership from becoming the biggest dead duck of the last 300 years.'
If the plans work out as Westminster intends, Scotland would be bankrupt from day one, with government offices closing down, and banks moving south of the border.
Rather than the following morning's newspapers being filled with photos of cheering crowds and a beaming Alex Salmond, they would have pictures of long queues for bread, garages with no petrol, starving hospitals and boarded-up children.
'And let's not suppose the world would stop it happening,' continued Shackleton. 'The world either wouldn't care, or would be unable to act. The Yes campaign is often seen as one of breaking away from the old establishment.
'But the British establishment still has a large say in the running of Everything. Yes voters may find that there's literally no escape. Westminster is basically aiming to say, you can be part of the UK, or you can be North Korea.
'Scottish voters might think they're sticking the middle finger up at Westminster, but they're going to find that Westminster's middle finger reaches places you don't even want to think about.'
There are also believed to be two other memos circulating in Downing Street outlining potential future Westminster approaches towards an independent Scotland.
One suggests that the UK sets up a committee to work with Scotland to ease towards a smooth transition, accommodating Scotland as much as possible while still protecting the interests of the remaining nations. In Downing Street circles, this has become mockingly known as 'The Rapture Scenario', because it's never going to happen.
The other memo suggests that Westminster should openly congratulate Scotland and look to work with it across all sectors, while secretly briefing, planning and fighting against it behind the scenes, hoping to delay long past March 24 2016, the date planned by the SNP for Scottish independence.
'This perhaps is the most likely option,' said Shackleton, 'although it does Cameron little good in the short term. They would postpone all discussions until after the Westminster elections next May, then they would couple idle promises with obfuscation to try to delay independence until after the next Holyrood election.
'Moves would be made to replace Johann Lamont as leader of Scottish Labour with someone capable of energising the innate Scottish socialist vote - albeit no one actually knows who that is - so that suddenly you had an anti-independence government in Holyrood.'
'What would happen then?' I asked Dr Shackleton, as we stood at his office window, looking out at the plumes of smoke coming from the east, where Russian troops were clashing with the Islamic State as they fought for control in the forests around Airdrie.
'No one knows,' he said. 'It's going to be like the Alamo multiplied by Black Swan.'
While no one yet knows which path Westminster will choose to follow in the event of a Yes vote, pictures have begun to appear on the internet, even this morning, of fencing materials being stockpiled in the north of England, amid suggestions that all English people living in Scotland are being advised to cast their vote on September 18 and then immediately head south of the border, in case of reprisals.
As fears grow that the separation between iScotland and rUK could be nastier and more contentious than many have up until now suspected, a number of celebrities posted comments on Twitter, as if that would make any difference.
Rubeus Hagrid, Keeper of the Keys at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Misery, wrote: 'There's a shitstorm coming, Harry.'