The indyref was supposed to answer the Scottish question. Instead it ended up posing the British question.

Now that Scots have voted No to independence but, effectively, yes to additional powers, what exactly is the United Kingdom?

Is Britain a nation, or a family of nations? Or both? Is it flexible enough to be transformed in to new federal structure that can reflect its diversity? Can the three big Westminster parties really deliver the changes they offered in their desperate last-minute bid to prevent a Yes?

Those, as the immediate story of the No vote was beamed around the world, where the questions more careful international observers were asking.

The world view of the UK has been transformed by the indyref.

The island foreigners routinely call England has - in two short years - come to be seen as something  more complex, something more textured and something less stable.

Take America. It has suddenly woken up the fact that Britain is not a cultural and political monolith. The White House even issued a last-minute appeal on Twitter to keep its biggest ally together as a single state.

The Washington Post, breaking news of a No, stressed a vote for independence would have had huge ramifications for the rest of UK. So too will the No.

A No, it said, "will be far less jarring, but will come with its own set of complications."

It explained: "As polls tightened in the final weeks before the vote, the leaders of Britain's three main parties - including Prime Minister David Cameron - tried to entice wavering Scots by promising them greater autonomy if they chose to stick with the union.

"But the leaders disagree over the details, and the promises have spawned a backlash among some in England who worry that Scotland is being given a sweetheart deal at their expense."

The UK will never be the same again, said La Vanguardia, Barcelona, as Catalans watched what had become a proxy battle for their struggle for independence. Its analysis: "The UK will have to redefine itself to survive. Newspapers which supported No did so on condition that powers would be rapidly transferred." But David Cameron, it added, will immediately face a backlash in England.

Mark Hennessy of the Irish Times, who has spent the last two and a half months criss-crossing Scotland, says the country IS going through an awakening.

But the veteran London correspondent sounds a note of caution: "There is a danger in believing that unprecedented political engagement is going to be replicated again, " he said. "That you are going to see people suddenly turn up at community council meetings. You're not."

Ireland, of course, has had passionate referendums itself, on issues like abortion, if nothing quite as all-encompassing as independence. "The danger is that you exaggerate what has happened and think things have changed forever," said Hennessy.

Other outsiders have been surprised by how pointy-headed our debate, has been, with arguments over the finer points of currency union or how complex EU-US trade deals might affect NHS privatisation.

One Spanish expert even talked of the spirit of the enlightenement. But Hennessy reckons few have really engaged with such complexities. "They are just looking for ammo for their own side," he said.

Always remember: it's not Alex Salmond who is the worldwide hero of the indyref, it's David Cameron.

The Tory prime minister in many oppressed places has become the embodiment of English fair play and democracy. As such he's tremendous propaganda tool for independence supporters across the world.

Take Benny Wenda. The exiled representative of West Papua, the territory Indonesia calls Irian Jaya, was in Edinburgh to watch the count,

From under a head-dress made from a bird of paradise, he said: "I am hear to witness democracy. This is a good example of British government alllowing the Scots to have a vote on independence and I wanted to see this, whether independence was the will of the Scots or not."

Governments of countries like Indonesia won't be happy that Mr Cameron "allowed" a vote. They would be even less happy if Scots say Yes. Mr Wenda is the guest of the Radical Independence Campaign. But as votes go against Yes in early counts, it seems the anti-indyref regimes of the world can take some succour.

Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy congratulated Scotland's citizens for "clearly and unequivocally" choosing to remain part of the UK and the European Union.

In a video lasting almost two minutes, Mr Rajoy said that Scots had voted "en masse, peacefully and with scrupulous respect to the laws of their country".

The Spanish government had insinuated that it would have vetoed entry to the EU for an independent Scotland as it deals with a growing separatist movement of its own in the north eastern region of Catalonia.

The ruling coalition in Catalonia's regional government hopes to hold a referendum on independence on November 9 which has been declared unconstitutional and therefore illegal by the central government in Madrid.

Mr Rajoy said: "With their decision, the Scots have avoided the serious economic, social, institutional and political consequences that their separation from the UK and Europe would have supposed.

"Yesterday they chose between segregation and integration, between isolation and openness, between stability and uncertainty, between security and real risk.

"They have chosen the most favourable option for all, for themselves, for the rest of British citizens and for the whole of Europe.

"I believe profoundly in the integration of the EU. I think that is the path which has led us to overcome the tragedies of our history and allows us to successfully deal with the challenges of the future.

"To have success in that endeavour everyone is needed and that is why we are very happy that Scotland is still with us."

Here is a round-up of the reaction from the international press:



For the Prime Minister, David Cameron, it has been a clear victory, but not without bitterness.

The country has avoided a break-up and also avoided opening an additional focus of crisis in Europe at a delicate time, with the Ukraine crisis in full swing, the economy still ailing and various secessionist movements in Spain, France, Italy and Belgium which were awaiting the decision of the Scots.

Scotland's No to independence comes the same day the Catalonian Parliament is getting ready to approve a law to call a referendum on self-determination on November 9. The Spanish Government breathed a sigh of relief after learning of the result in Scotland, precisely the one it wished for.




French politicians have welcomed the results of the independence referendum in Scotland as a lesson in democracy.

Mindful of what could have been a political earthquake in Europe, they are celebrating the outcome.

Philip Cordery, national secretary of the Socialist Party in Europe, said it is a "relief" for Europe and highlighted the "exemplary" nature of the election in terms of the turnout and the respectful acceptance of the result.




Scotland is staying in the United Kingdom but the co-ordinates of British politics have shifted. The concessions from London change everything.

The English will not accept the Scots being granted further self-determination without a fuss, not while a similar increase in rights for the English regions is not forthcoming. People there want more powers too.

The clear results of the referendum do not mean Great Britain is going to stay the same.




Given a historic chance to go it alone as an independent nation, Scottish voters chose to stick with the United Kingdom following a campaign that was marked by extraordinary turnout and profound division.

Throughout the debate, the "yes" camp was consistently louder, more visible and seemingly better organised. But unionists insisted all along that they represented "a silent majority" of Scots - a prediction that was borne out in the vote totals.

The announcement of results came just hours after nearly all of Scotland turned out to vote on Thursday in a referendum marked by civility and passion. The vote offered residents of this ancient land the chance to create the world's newest independent nation by breaking up one of its oldest unions.




Scotland has chosen to stay in the United Kingdom, spurning independence in a historic referendum that had worried allies and investors.

The campaign for independence had galvanized this country of 5.3 million but also divided friends and families from the remote Scottish islands of the Atlantic to the tough city estates of Glasgow.

Breaking apart the United Kingdom has worried allies, investors and the entire British elite whose leaders rushed late in the campaign to check what opinion polls showed was a surge in support for independence.