Arguments for and against Union

Arguments for and against Union

Arguments FOR Union

  • Economic Benefits: England was much wealthier and more populated than Scotland. Union promised access to this wealth and to English trade routes. The signing of the Treaty brought an immediate economic benefit in the form of the ‘Equivalent’, a sum of money given to Scotland to offset the costs of taking on a share of the English national debt.
  • Security from France: It was believed that Union would secure Scotland against possible aggression from France, an idea propagated by fears from the contemporary War of Spanish Succession.
  • Darien Scheme Failure: The catastrophic Darien Scheme had left Scotland bankrupt. England offered to cover this debt if Scotland would agree to Union.
  • Religious Harmony: The Presbyterian Church of Scotland would be officially recognised and protected under the Union, ensuring no restoration of a Catholic monarchy.

Arguments AGAINST Union

  • Loss of Independence: Many were opposed to Union because it was felt that Scotland would effectively become a province of England with very little political power or independence.
  • Economic Concerns: There were concerns amongst some Scottish merchants that they would be overshadowed by their English counterparts.
  • Lack of Benefits to Ordinary Scots: There was a belief that any benefits from Union would primarily go to the Scottish nobility and gentry rather than improving the lot of ordinary Scottish people.
  • Threat to the Presbyterian Church: While some saw the Union as protective of the Presbyterian Church, others feared it would be threatened by the Anglican Church in England.

Internal Division

  • Public Opinion: Public opinion was generally against the Union, with protests and riots reported in Edinburgh and other towns.
  • Bribery Allegations: There were widespread allegations of bribery, with many believing that the Scottish nobility had been ‘bought’ by English gold to facilitate the Treaty.
  • Scottish Parliament Vote: The Union only passed by a relatively slim margin in the Scottish Parliament (106 votes for to 69 against), reflecting the ongoing sharp division over the issue.