FT Monday 8th September 2014

Cameron’s fate as prime minister hangs on Scotland vote


The referendum over Scottish independence is now just ten days away, and having looked all year as though the Better Together campaign would secure the continued existence of the 307 year union, the tide looks to have turned. If the Scots do vote to leave the United Kingdom on the 18th of September, then the future of the prime minister David Cameron will also be uncertain. Cameron already faces rebellion from within the ranks of his own party. Last week Douglas Carswell publically defected to UKIP, resigning his seat in order to trigger a by-election that Cameron would certainly have done without. With the prime minister not eliciting much support from his backbenchers over the traditional party quagmire of the EU, if he also achieves the position as the chief executive that oversaw the dissolution of the Union between the Scots and the rest of the realm, his job could rapidly become untenable. Under Conservative Party rules, 47 Tory MPs must call for a vote of confidence in the prime minister for a vote to be triggered. Ironically, the Conservative Party is the group that stands to gain the most from Scottish independence. Traditionally, the party has performed extremely poorly north of the border, and the loss of Scottish MPs for Labour would severely damaged their chances of securing a future majority in Westminster.

 

Sanctions help Russia overcome its China paranoia 

Ties between Russia and China continue to strengthen in lieu of continued pressure on Moscow by the West over its actions in Ukraine. Russia has been keen to demonstrate to the West that it is not reliant upon it, and that it has alternative markets for its lucrative oil and gas exports. In order to prove this, Russia has turned increasingly east in search of partnerships, most significantly with its Cold War Communist rival China. Historically Russia has had a long-standing fear of China, largely due to the nature of its geography. The Russian east is particularly vulnerable to the Chinese, and the two states share one of the longest borders in the world. The Russian east is resource rich, yet underdeveloped in infrastructure, sparsely populated, and closer geographically to Beijing than Moscow. Russia fears that its economically booming and densely populated neighbour to the south could attempt to seize control of Russian resources and territory, which are a major source of the Kremlin’s revenue. Those fears have been put to one side however in recent years as Russian President Vladimir Putin seems to have turned away from the West in order to pursue a more aggressive policy towards the states of the former Soviet Union. Russia has signed several high profile deals over energy with China in the aftermath of Western sanctions. For the first time Russia has ceded some level of control over energy projects and sought to leverage future profit against Chinese capital. While politically this may be an adept move for Putin, there are suspicions that Russia has sacrificed on price and has left himself and Russia vulnerable to China in the long term.


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