THE United Kingdom is, effectively, just six weeks away from breaking up.

It is a remarkable thought, but it is where we are as a union.

On September 18, the people of Scotland will decide in a referendum whether they want to be an independent nation.

Campaigning kicked off in earnest this week as the leaders of the Yes and No campaigns - First Minister Alex Salmond and former Chancellor Alastair Darling respectively - took part in the first of two live televised debates.

Most commentators believe Mr Darling won the debate, with immediate opinion polls backing their views.

And the Better Together campaign - backed by the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties - will be heartened by the latest opinion poll, which shows it running 14 percentage points ahead of Yes Scotland support.

But what happens if there is a Yes vote next month Scotland becomes independent in March, 2016?

And, more importantly for Wales, what would that mean for us?

There are, of course, a host of issues and scenarios that will be played out over the next six weeks. Sovereignty, currency, economics, democracy, agriculture, business, defence, energy, taxation, European Union membership and even the future of the BBC all come into the equation.

But let's imagine for a moment that Scotland votes for independence.

In the immediate aftermath, the Scottish and UK governments would begin negotiations towards a transfer of powers.

We would then have the slightly bizarre prospect of Scottish voters taking part in next year's General Election and Scottish MPs being able to vote on UK issues despite their jobs disappearing within nine months of being elected.

In the months following a Yes vote, I suspect there would be increased calls either for more powers for the Welsh Government or, in some quarters, for an independence referendum here.

As things stand at the moment, there does not appear to be the appetite for independence in Wales that there has been in Scotland for some years.

And let us not forget that, long before devolution, Scotland had its own legal and education systems among other separate institutions.

Wales is, at the moment, inextricably linked to England.

But let's look a little deeper at the political fall-out of Scottish independence and how that might change things for Wales.

Scottish independence would almost certainly mean future UK (or whatever the remaining parts of the union will be called) governments will be Conservative.

That would effectively create a permanent political divide between Wales and England - and that would almost certainly lead to demands for more autonomy or the Welsh Government.

And that might eventually lead to a concerted campaign for Welsh independence.

I can imagine a Westminster government post-Scottish independence wanting to do it all can to preserve the remainder of the union and offering more devolution to Wales and Northern Ireland as a result.

But I can also imagine a growing clamour for English devolution. There is already a campaign for it.

The real impact of Scottish independence on Wales, however, will depend on how Scotland fared as an independent nation.

If independence was a roaring success it would encourage Welsh separatism. If it was an unmitigated disaster, it would probably kill any thoughts of Welsh independence forever.

The next six weeks will be interesting. Scotland's independence referendum is a once-in-a-generation event.

Whether Scotland votes Yes or No remains to be seen - as does the potential impact of either outcome on Wales.