Scotland’s “No” to independence may have saved Prime Minister David Cameron his job, but sweeping pledges of a constitutional shake-up could undermine his re-election drive and trigger more political instability.
Responding to what he called a “clear” rejection of Scottish independence on Friday, Cameron, who is up for re-election in May 2015, promised to begin a process that would see Scotland granted further powers.
He also said he wanted to see more powers devolved to Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as changes for England, starting with new voting arrangements in the British parliament.
Some, including in his own party, feel he promised too much.
“This result presents both opportunities and challenges for Cameron,” said Matthew Ashton, a politics lecturer at Nottingham Trent University.
“On the one hand he can make claim to the title of ‘the man who saved the union’. On the other, he’ll now have to deliver on his extraordinary ambitious promises of a new constitutional settlement.”
In the closing phase of the referendum campaign, Cameron and other party leaders made detailed promises to Scotland, about future funding and new tax and spending powers – a move some of his own MPs described as a “panicky” response to opinion polls which suggested the vote was too close to call.
It will be difficult for him to renege.