Well the votes have been cast and the 300+ year old United Kingdom will continue to exist. Before the official votes were counted, several people opined on what an independent Scotland would mean to the world. I have cherry picked the ones I liked (and added some details from my own twisted mind) to create a future scenario based on a world where Scotland voted for independence…
In 2060, the future outlook is starting to look more optimistic again. Agriculture output is up, clean energy is the norm (and cheap fusion energy is just on the horizon), nanotechnology is leading to massive strides in various scientific fields and the world population is starting to level off. Of course most people don’t like to admit this is because of the massive die off caused by climate change and the devastating resource wars. Although most people don’t talk about it, older generations tend to have severe survivor guilt (the younger generation continue to be bored by history, which is good since their depression and suicide rates are more manageable).
A small minority of historians point to the independence of Scotland as major turning point in history. London’s refusal to offer better terms for staying in the United Kingdom probably provided just enough motivation to get the Yes vote to 51%. The post-vote economic downfall and arguments over who got what in the messy divorce, led to most pro-independence Scots immediately regretting their decision, but the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron and the rise to power of a “don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out” government prevented any backsies. After a few years of tense negotiations, Scotland found itself poorer and EU-less (England would tell Europe to shove off in 2017).
Luckily, the North Sea oil fields helped a lot. Wise investment of these new resources soon made Scotland one of the more well off states in Europe, while its social democracy made it attractive to the Scandinavian countries who invited them to join their Northern Economic Union (NEU). Today Scotland is a relatively peaceful country that managed to avoid the nasty collapse of the European Union. Sure there is that whole shadow war with the Eurasians over the untapped resources in the Arctic, but the average Scot knows nothing of highly-trained and cybernetically augmented special forces soldiers battling it out with their AI-drone sidekicks, while hackers (who are certainly not drug tested anymore) duel over a digital battlefield. Relations are a little better with the Canadians and their American client states, but they keep a couple spy satellites hovering over their territory just in case.
England’s history, on the other hand, was a lot less rosy. The government became increasingly right-wing and anti-immigrant, but also just incompetent enough that they were unable to do anything drastic with the UK’s nuclear arsenal. The Second English Civil War ended with the fall of England (Wales got out while the going is good and Northern Ireland was able to unite with Ireland with little fuss). Nations with names like Northumbria, Wessex and Cornwall exist once again, although none are constitutional monarchies. Don’t worry too much about the (ex)Royal Family. They are still relatively wealthy thanks to their hit reality show, Royal Pains (although Better Call Saud has strong ratings).
The European Union didn’t take Scottish independence well either. The success of the referendum lit a fire under other secessionist movements across Europe (and sometimes there were real fires as well). Sadly the short-sighted EU refused to allow these new states to stay within the union, which really never deterred the independence crowd. When the EU tried to switch gears before it was too late, it only meant states fighting nasty civil wars took the time to send a Dear John letter to Brussels. By the time the dust settled, Spain, France, Belgium and Italy ceased to exist. New regional unions replaced the defunct EU. Russia (later Eurasia) took advantage of the fractured Europe to “protect helpless Russian minorities” before the German military got sick of this nonsense, staged a coup and bullied Central Europe into a defensive pact. To their credit they really try hard to make sure no one confuses them with a certain militaristic government from the 1930s-40s, but that hasn’t stopped some from thinking the weather in Israel is really nice this time of year.
Speaking of the Middle East, things were rough in the 2010s-20s, what with that extreme Sunni movement that spread through most of the region, but they recovered a lot sooner than the West. In a surprising move the patchwork of theo-democracies that replaced the poorly drawn post-colonial nations are policed by the odd couple alliance of Turkey, Israel and Iran. Despite their differences they decided it was better to stand together than add more heads to the pile. Of course things can still be a tense and often out of nostalgia Israel and Iran will threaten to wipe the other off the map, much the annoyance of Turkey who would rather spend their time boosting their street cred with the increasingly Muslim nations of Southern Europe.
The United States avoided the worst of secessionist craze. Sure it was in vogue for a few years, especially in Texas and Vermont, but the movement was still too fringe and too “white” for America’s changing demographics. Instead it was how a cash-strapped and do-nothing government handled the mega-droughts, super hurricanes and annual polar vortexes of the succeeding decades that convinced everyone it was time to go. There is still a rump United States straddling the middle states that sells old military hardware to make ends meet, but it is becoming a breadbasket again thanks to the vertical farms springing up in their major cities. The short-lived independent Texas and Second Confederacy fell after their respective minorities agreed they wouldn’t do well under these governments. The Republic of the Rio Grande (Mexico didn’t do too well in the last decades either and the “cartelocracies” are hard places to live) and Nova Africa have done better than their detractors predicted, but things are still tough. Cascadia and New England are better off after cozying up to Canada, who has rocketed up the power charts thanks to the resources found in the thawing permafrost. There is some chatter about joining up with them, but so far only Alaska has taken up the offer of being a province.
India is the world’s top economic power after China was knocked down a couple of pegs thanks to revolting western provinces, the waters wars in Central Asia and the poorly timed experimentation with democracy. The rest of Asia, Africa and Latin America suffered the most in the previous decades (grumbling Pacific Islanders still feel they have no right to complain since their homes didn’t sink under the ocean). Most either died from famine, plague or war, or fled to places that were less bad where they had a better chance of surviving the local version of famine, plague or war. There has been some consolidation in the Third World as still functioning governments claim new territories, but difficulties administering these harsh lands means they remain “paper” empires (like anyone uses paper anymore, haha).
The less chilly Antarctica is now home to several thousand colonists who live in dome or underground settlements so they can harness the power of this resource rich (for now) continent. All of these colonies are independent, but will close ranks if some southern hemisphere country thinks about staking a claim. Meanwhile, the super-rich fled to orbit, turning the space hotels into more permanent settlements. Of course, most are dead now. The engineers and scientists who ran the stations showed them the way out the nearest airlock after they realized there money wasn’t good anymore. These technocrats could be almost confused as neo-communists since that system works surprisingly well in a closed environment (which could explain True Korea…IN SPACE). There hasn’t been much progress on the space exploration front (we’ve been back to the Moon and finally got boots on Mars), but those in orbit have plans just in case this whole Earth thing doesn’t work out and only a few call for sterilizing the Earth and starting over with a new genetic template.
Due to how scary the future turned out to be, most SF&F these days is past focused as people try to remember when things were better. This has made one Waste Recycling Monitor in V-Farm DF-9 on the corner of LaSalle and Adams very happy…