It’s been repeated ad nauseam since Friday morning – and the phrase “a week is a long time in politics” has never seemed so apt as this week – but worth repeating again: Scotland voted 62-38 to remain in the EU, while England voted 55-45 to leave. That’s a gaping 17 point difference.
Back in September 2014, I was passionately for the No side. I wanted the Union to stay together in a very heartfelt way. But post-Brexit, if there was a second independence referendum, I couldn’t in all conscience argue that Scotland should stay in the Union. I would even support, with a heavy heart, a Yes vote.
I don’t say this lightly: I have been at the sharp end of a lot of cybernat abuse in the past. However, I am trapped in a problem of basic logic.
If I’m to support the Leave vote, even though I think it’s a bad idea, on the grounds that there is a democratic mandate for it, then I have a real problem with being against a second Scottish Indy ref. Back in 2014, EU membership was a major factor in the Scots deciding to remain in the UK. Now, in spite of voting to stay in the EU by 24 points, they are set to be dragged out. I don’t see how you can support the legitimacy of one portion of the 2016 referendum vote and ignore another part of it completely.
The Scots should get another shot at deciding on independence in wake of what has happened this week. If, in the end, they decide that staying in the UK is more important than being in the EU, then fair enough – that will have been decided fair and square. As it stands now, we have a huge problem.
For those saying that it isn’t up to the Scottish Parliament, and that Westminster could block a second Indy ref anyhow, please rejoin reality. The Scottish government has an effective veto on Brexit, and will be speaking about this issue in the coming months with a new guard Tory party that effectively wants rid of Scotland anyhow. The idea that a second Indy ref won’t emerge from those two sets of people discussing the future of the nation is extremely wishful thinking.
In answer to Scottish Unionists understandably dismayed by all of this: by all means make the strongest case you can for preserving the Union. But you will have to find some way to defend the idea of a pro-EU socially democratic Scotland, one that essentially aspires to be a Nordic nation, staying in union with an England that wants to become a small state quasi-America style tax haven off the coast of France. Good luck with that.
Is Scotland really all that pro-EU? They didn’t seem all that bothered judging by turnout… way down on the independence referendum and even down on the general election last year. Remain in Scotland didn’t get anywhere close to the votes No achieved, and barely surpassed the Yes tally. It all seems a bit apathetic to me.
I totally concur that the Scots must be granted a referendum now if they want it, but for me that is far from certain. Independence with England outside the EU would be a very different beast. Retaining Sterling would become impossible, a real border would now inevitably have to exist, tariff barriers and the like become a factor and largely in EU hands rather than being unthinkable in a divorce settlement between Holyrood and Westminster etc. The SNP dare not have another referendum without being sure of success and right now the prospect of an EU border within the British Isles would make that very difficult to gauge.
Gavin Bell says
Speaking from north of the border, I wouldn’t be so sure. I would say resistance to the idea has definitely lessened, and it helps that Sturgeon is a less Marmite ambassador for nationalism than Salmond, but the underlying problems with their case still exist. And we’re right in the midst of an object lesson in the consequences of disregarding expert advice and taking a massive, unnecessary leap into the unknown. Sturgeon is smart to explore keeping Scotland in the EU by alternative means, but she has an extremely difficult balancing act with her supporters.