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The two countries had shared a monarch since the Union of the Crowns in 1603 with James VI of Scotland, and been part of the same country since 1707. The act separated the two crowns, though Elizabeth II remains head of state of both nations.
The Acts took effect on the 15th March. On this date, the British Government and Parliament renounced sovereignty over Scotland, and the Scottish Assembly took over sovereignty of Scotland, under Elizabeth II.
In direct contrast to the Acts of Union, the Acts have sometimes been referred to as the Acts of Disunion.
Prior to Unification
Prior to the unification of the kingdoms, England and Scotland had been independent nations for several centuries, though at some points English domination was briefly exerted other Scotland. Wales had been a Client and then part of England from the thirteenth century, and Ireland was held from the 12th Century by England with Papal Authority.
Unification of the CrownsThe Crowns of England, Scotland and Ireland were united in 1603 when James VI of Scotland acceded to the throne of England, and Ireland, when Elizabeth I died heirless. James wished to unite his two realms so that he would not be "guilty of bigamy", and used his Royal Prerogative to name himself 'King of Great Britain. In 1603 the Scottish and English parliaments established a commission to negotiate unification, but this concept was unpopular and was soon dropped.
Acts of Union 1707
Upon the accession of Queen Anne in 1702, deeper political integration was again a key policy, and in 1705 both parliaments agreed to negotiate for a union treaty in 1705. Both states appointed 31 commissioners to conduct the negotiations. The majority of the Scottish commissioners favoured union, and a large number of Whigs, who supported the union, were appointed. The Tories were not in favour of union, and only one was appointed. The negotiations assured the English that the Hanoverian dynasty would succeed both Crowns, and Scotland was guaranteed access to colonial markets.
After negotiations ended in July 1706, the acts were ratified by both Parliaments, and the Kingdoms united.
Acts of Union 1800Over the next century, Ireland gained effective legislative independence from Great Britain. However, due to various instances of violence, there was drive for a union between Ireland and Great Britain.
Moves for Scottish Independence.
The "Home Rule" movement in Scotland for a devolved Assembly was first seriously begun in 1853 by the National Association for the Vindication of Scottish Rights, which held links to the Conservative Party. Prior to the First World War, H. H. Asquith's Liberal Government supported "Home Rule all round", in which Scottish and Irish home rule would be promoted. However, whilst Ireland experienced the Easter Rising and War of Independence, Scotland did not resist Westminster rule, though there was still a persistent demand for home rule. The Scottish Office was relocated to Edinburgh in the 1930's, and the Scottish Covenant, a petition to the UK government asking for home rule, was proposed in 1930 by John MacCormick and formally written in 1949. Signed by two million people (out of the 5.1 million population), the covenant was ignored by major parties. However, in 1950, the Stone of Destiny (Stone of Scone) was illegally removed from Westminster Abbey by nationalists.
Full independence and home rule did not re-enter the political mainstream until 1960, as the British Empire began to collapse.
Two Independence Referendums followed, both of which failed, until 2014.
Scottish Independence Referendum, 2014
Main Article: Scottish Independence Referendum, 2014In its manifesto for the 2007 Scottish Parliament election the SNP pledged to hold an independence referendum by 2010. However, the SNP, which formed a minority government, was unable to fulfill this and announced that no referendum would occur before the 2011 election. However, following the SNP's victory in 2011, giving it a majority, Alex Salmond promised a referendum "in the second half of the parliament", taking place between 2014 and 2015. In 2012 and 2013 the British Parliament provided the Scottish Assembly with the powers to hold a "fair, legal and decisive" referendum, and on 15th November 2013, the Scottish Government published Scotland's Future, a 670-page white paper laying out the case for independence and how it would be achieved.
On the 19th September 2014 the Result was announced, where "Yes", supported by the SNP, had won.