In Whitehall, there is a phrase for the entity which would be left if Scotland were to vote Yes to independence next year. The acronym is rUK, which stands for ‘the rest of the United Kingdom’.

This device of referring to a country’s altered state in its name has a precedent. After Macedonia broke away from Yugoslavia in 1991, it could only prevent Greece from blocking its UN entry by being admitted as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

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Obviously, it would be embarrassing for the Former UK (FUK) to highlight its initials, but the nomenclature is a real problem. The reduced entity could not accurately be called Great Britain, and ‘The United Kingdom of England, Wales and Northern Ireland’ is also inaccurate (since there is no Welsh or Northern Irish kingdom united with that of England). We are getting into a pickle.

GoveThis is an extract from Charles Moore’s Spectator’s Notes in the latest issue of the Spectator. Click here to read for free with a trial of The Spectator app for iPad and iPhone. You can also subscribe with a free trial on the Kindle Fire.

Tags: Scottish independence, UK politics