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As an Englishman – albeit the son of a London Scot – I want to express my deep sadness at the prospect of Scotland leaving the UK. There are so many bonds of kinship, friendship and shared experience that bind us and the other constituent peoples together.

As I think of the causes of your dissatisfaction, I feel shame at the lack of care and consideration we have shown towards our neighbours over the centuries.

The sheer size of the English population means we can block anything that doesn’t suit us, and there are times (as now) when the other constituent countries are almost totally unrepresented in the UK government.

This is a fundamental flaw and if you stay in the Union, it could be a real opportunity to rethink how we live together on these islands.

I don’t think most English people have begun to prepare themselves for the possibility of you leaving. I have even heard people say that it wouldn’t affect them! On the contrary, I believe it would be a shock like that of a husband in a long-lasting marriage who is vaguely aware of his wife’s unhappiness, but who can’t bring himself to believe that she would ever leave him.

I fear it will stir profound and unpredictable emotions.

If you do decide for independence, I believe the UK government should be generous in its settlement to give Scotland the best chance of succeeding and of amicable relations from the start.

My profound hope – even prayer – is that you will decide to stay in the UK, and that we together will find a way forward where hurts are acknowledged, and where the richness, strength and potential of each of our peoples is creatively and respectfully combined for the benefit of ourselves and of others.

Peter Riddell

Norham Road

Oxford

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