55% of Scots voted against independence in the summer of 2014, but that was before anyone really took the prospect of Brexit seriously. Now that it’s a reality and the UK is on the cusp of triggering Article 50 on 29 March, this issue once again takes on a very urgent relevancy because some Scots are reconsidering whether or not they want to stick around for the ride. What’s interesting is that the majority of Scots voted to “Bremain”, not Brexit, so it’s definitely a valid point that many of them might not want to go along with the UK’s departure from the bloc.
This is where everything gets really messy, however, since the British government argues that Scotland already had their independence referendum almost three years ago and voted to remain in the UK, so there’s no reason to have a redo so soon after the fact. Prime Minister Theresa May understands that her country needs Scotland and its energy resources in order to help weather any potential short-term tumult from Brexit, yet the Scots don’t want to feel like they’re being used and getting an unfair deal from London during this unpredictable time. Some of them, particularly those associated with the ruling Scottish Nationalist Party, think that now is the perfect moment for them to leave the UK and join the EU, thereby fusing nationalism with Europhilia in a unique and somewhat contradictory combination.
Of course, while Brexit is the catalyst for all the recent talk and efforts to hold another Scottish independence referendum, there are also patriotic considerations as well. The Scots have a clearly defined sense of identity and strong nationalism, and their history before the unification is literally the stuff of legends. There are a lot of reasons why independence is attractive to many Scots, though at the same time and judging from the last referendum results, the majority of them still want to remain with the UK, albeit with broad self-governing privileges. If First Minister Sturgeon is successful in convincing Prime Minister May and her government of the need to hold another vote on the issue, however, then we’ll all see whether Brexit was the beginning not just the EU’s potential dissolution, but also the UK’s.
Steven Fielding, Professor of Political History and Director of the Centre for British Politics at the University of Nottingham and Sevi Rodriguez Mora, Professor of Economics at the University of Edinburgh joined us to discuss the future of the United Kingdom.
We'd love to get your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org
Have you heard the news? Sign up to our Telegram channel and we'll keep you up to speed!