08:00 GMT09 March 2021
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    Scotland held the first referendum in September 2014, with 55 percent voting "no" to independence.

    The UK government's poor treatment of Scottish concerns over the entire Brexit process could open the door to another referendum on independence from the United Kingdom, Jock Penman, the co-convener of the pro-Scottish independence Solidarity Socialist Movement, has told Sputnik. Sputnik has discussed the issue with Jim Sillars, a former Labour MP.

    Sputnik: Nicola Sturgeon has previously said that IndyRef2 would be called once the terms of Brexit were known; now that the chaos of Brexit has unfolded, why has Nicola Sturgeon not called a second referendum on independence, especially when she still promotes it as the best way for Scotland?

    Jim Sillars: Well there’s a difference between promoting independence as the best future for Scotland and having an early referendum. And I’m very pleased that she’s given no date to when she hopes to have a referendum because the fact of the matter is that the Yes movement is only 46 percent, not above 50, 46 percent, and the polls haven’t moved since 2014.

    So we are not ready and we are not ready for several reasons. First of all there has not been any examination of why we lost last time and that is absolutely essential before you start to talk about a date of a second referendum. We haven’t done any of the research required – there are no policy groups working on what is required to put forward a new case for Scottish independence after Brexit, because Brexit produces a new paradigm; it’s a different world in 2019 to what it was in 2014 – no preparations have been done for that.

    Thirdly, there is no national organization, because Yes is much bigger than simply the Scottish National Party, there are lots of other elements in the Yes movement; there is no national organization. So fundamentally we are not ready and it’s sensible not to put a date on a second referendum.  

    Sputnik: What do you think the chances are of there being more of an appetite for independence after Brexit?

    Jim Sillars: Well no-one knows because what kind of a Brexit is it going to be? Nobody knows. Is it the Theresa May one that ties us very closely to the EU or is it going to be on WTO terms that cuts the United Kingdom from the EU to be a trading nation on its own.

    And either of those two scenarios means that Scotland will have to examine them carefully, individually, to see how we could fit in to either May’s Brexit or a WTO Brexit. And also there will be a period after Brexit when the rule of unintended consequences comes in. So it’s a sensible thing to wait for a year or 18 months after whatever Brexit we get before we start to talk about having a second referendum.

    I’ve also said to the Yes movement but I’m almost a lone voice: what’s the problem for a nation waiting two or three years more to secure independence; two or three years in the life of a nation is not a great deal of time and if it takes that to get it right and win, then we should be patient.

    Sputnik: Former Labour MP Pamela Nash has said a second referendum is not what people want and would be divisive – what would you say to that?

    Jim Sillars: Well people don’t want it at the moment and I think that’s very clear. And I think sensible people in the Yes movement and sensible voters who would want independence are aware of the fact that we’re about 46 percent; we’re not at 50. So this is not the time for a second independence referendum. I agree with her, but for entirely different reasons.

    Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Jim Sillars and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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