Being independent. Some ask whether this comes from Traditional Scottish Values, but is being part of the EU the objective?
‘If Scots choose yes, then it will be one of the biggest constitutional reforms in a generation…‘
More than 400 years on, since the Union of the Crowns in 1603 when James VI of Scotland inherited the English throne after Queen Elizabeth I left no heir, a debate of whether Scotland should be independent from the rest of the United Kingdom has been discussed.
In modern times, a referendum was held back in 2014, when Scots were asked the question, “Should Scotland be an independent country?”. The options were simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. The people had spoken and the answer was 55% voted no whilst 45% voted yes. Majority rules and Scotland was to stay part of the United Kingdom.
It’s now back in the spotlight after the SNP published a ‘roadmap to a second referendum’ that outlines its plans should they win a majority in May’s Scottish Parliament elections. They intend to hold a second referendum once the current coronavirus pandemic is under control.
What’s the current situation?
The SNP won a huge share of the votes at the last General Election in December 2019, which Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon has said it is a clear indication of the rising support for an independent Scotland.
Although in 2014, it was accepted that the independence vote was a once in a generation chance, demand for a second vote has gained momentum following the Brexit vote in 2016. Sturgeon has insisted on a second referendum since then because 62% of Scots voted for Remain. This wasn’t a factor, a very crucial one, that the Scots could’ve anticipated when they voted two years prior. The argument is that they should be able to choose between being a part of the United Kingdom or the EU.
By Kaz Bosali: Political Columnist
What can happen now?
There could potentially be legal proceedings against parliament and a diplomatic row as Prime Minister Boris Johnson has shown resistance to allowing for a second referendum. For a referendum’s result to be legal, there needs to be consent from the UK government. Although Boris Johnson called it, “irrelevant” and has said that the main focus should be on beating the pandemic, the argument has gained fervour in recent years and Nicola Sturgeon has previously said that Scotland “cannot be imprisoned”.
Assuming a second referendum takes place after the Covid-19 pandemic, then Scots will again have two options to choose from: yes or no. Simple words to tick for something that can change the course of the UK’s fate, as significant as the Brexit vote.
Should Scotland vote no again, then it’s status quo. If Scots choose yes, then it will be one of the biggest constitutional reforms in a generation. An independent Scotland would mean that they will be able to apply for membership in the EU. They would need to follow a process of joining the EU.
The SNP do have a strong mandate to call for a second referendum due to the new dynamics they didn’t have to consider in 2014 such as Brexit. It’s a demand that is unlikely to go away unless heeded by the MPs in Westminster.
The debate of an independent Scotland is steeped in history and one where not everyone will be happy about whatever the outcome at any given time. The opportunity for Scotland to have a say on its union with the United Kingdom, may happen twice in this generation though.
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