Scotland says No. So now what?

So, after all that, the United Kingdom remains united. Offered what Alex Salmond called a “once in a generation” opportunity, Scots ended up saying “No thanks” after all.

We already knew it wouldn’t be business as usual after a No vote -- and now it seems the change will be more wide-ranging than many had expected.

Independence has been rejected, but around 1-and-a-half million UK citizens voted to leave the UK. The No camp had a 60-40 lead at one stage, and then watched it evaporate.

Had it not been for the last-minute attention of the Westminster party leaders, and an extraordinary performance from Gordon Brown, things could have been very different.

Alex Salmond may have missed out on outright separation -- but in many ways he’s still the winner.

The party leaders at Westminster have offered more powers to the Scottish Parliament, and it would be electoral suicide to go back on that.

Mr Salmond has decided to resign, saying now is the time for new leadership. His successor, almost certainly Nicola Sturgeon, will demand -- and Westminster will almost certainly concede -- a significant role in negotiating the transfer of more power to Edinburgh.

But now David Cameron has broadened the entire conversation -- an admission this referendum, while preserving the union, forces significant change on both sides of the Scottish border.

A new constitutional settlement for England sounds awfully complicated -- certainly not the kind of thing you can knock off in the few months left before the general election.

Ed Miliband certainly doesn't want to move that quickly -- suggesting a slower constitutional review lasting far beyond May 2015.

That's no surprise. For Labour to win a majority at Westminster, he needs those Scottish MPs.

Many Conservative backbenchers want to reduce their rights to vote on issues devolved to Edinburgh. Some want to reduce the number of Scottish constituencies. Mr Miliband will furiously resist both proposals.

David Cameron will want to act faster, to head off a rebellion within his own party. But already the timetable appears to be slipping. It would be a huge gamble for Westminster politicians to go back on the promises they made.

There’s a lot to learn from Scotland’s journey: It is possible to engage the great majority of voters, and get them to the polling stations; and there’s a debate to be had about whether to extend the experiment of letting 16 and 17 year olds vote.

Scotland will remain in the UK, but with more devolved power and a little more semi-detached from the rest of the country.

This was a story of two prominent Scots, who've both had a huge impact on both their own country, and the wider UK.

Gordon Brown, derided for so long by his opponents, found a passion and fury in defending the union that often seemed to desert him in Downing Street.

And Alex Salmond, the great showman of Scottish politics, came closer than many had imagined to winning independence for his country. He couldn't manage it, and the margin of his defeat may have been the thing that pushed him towards resignation. 

But it took the leaders of all three Westminster parties, and a few from the past, to defeat him -- and because of him Scotland, and the rest of the UK, will be very, very different.