Union Jack flag probably won't change much if Scotland becomes independent-but maybe they won't be the last to leave


Tomorrow, Scotland votes on whether to become an independent country. The polls are running neck-and-neck, and one of the most enduring and fun discussions concerns what'll happen to the U.K.'s iconic flag if the Scots vote "Yes!"

The current Union flag superimposes designs representing England, Scotland and Ireland:


When most of Ireland left the Union in 1921, there was speculation then that the Union Jack would have to change. As the counties making up Northern Ireland remained, however, it stayed put.

The UK is such a constitutional hodgepodge that there'll always be some rationale to keep whatever people want–or to change it, as the case may be.

Some of the proposed designs, however, have been wild. The emerging consensus seems to be the flag must change–but only as much as necessary. But to what, exactly?

It turns out, of course, that there's always been a missing constitutional ingredient in the current flag: Wales, the one British country left out of the colors. Wales' union with England dates back nearly a thousand years, while the Scots' dates back only three centuries.

The emerging consensus suggests that the Welsh should get their due–and convenience allows the Union flag to be updated in their favor with a slight color swap, exchanging Scottish blue for Welsh green (above) or black (below), depending on what is deemed coolest.


If Scotland breaks away, though, it's likely that other regions will want greater autonomy too. Northern Ireland would likely be granted greater self-government, and could see a renewed push for independence or reunification with Ireland. If they did so, though, the U.K. flag loses its Irish connection for good, and much of its mojo:


There's some dodgy semiotics lurking there, too, if you ask me. It works better with the Welsh in green:


The Welsh seem firmly committed, however, with only 15% or so favoring independence.

What, then, would a flag for just England and Wales look like? Here's my thought, uniting Welsh (Yellow on Black) and English (Red on White) colors in a simple way that retains a hint of the Union Jack's iconic, geometrical oddness, while being completely new.