There has been much talk in the EU referendum that a vote for leave would trigger a second Scottish independence referendum. Why? The logic is that support for the EU is highest in Scotland (leave is currently polling at a mere 17%). Indeed, the idea of a second Scottish independence referendum makes sense; if the majority of the UK, and a majority of the other constituent nations, voted for leave, but a clear majority in Scotland voted remain, this would indeed legitimately raise the question of whether the UK still worked for Scotland (if indeed it ever did). Certainly, Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the SNP, is fond of raising this point.
As a unionist, yet someone who is strongly for leave, this worries me.
However, two points are worth making.
- The SNP’s position is incoherent. On one hand, they persist in calling for independence from the UK (actually, methinks, from England; I reckon the SNP would be happy for Scotland to carry on alongside the other Celtic nations). They say Westminster is too far away and removed from the affairs of Scots, and that being an independent nation would enable politicians in Scotland to much better represent the people of Scotland. Their logic: how could a population of a mere five million make its voice heard in a larger nation of some 65 million? Yet at the same time, the SNP equally firmly persists in the notion that being integrated within the EU, a far larger polity with some 508 million people!, would lead to better representation for the Scottish people. I simply cannot get my head round this, and I have never heard a truly convincing argument for how this makes any sense.
- What if a majority of England votes for leave, but the UK as a whole votes remain? Does England then get an independence referendum to leave the UK? I suspect, from anecdotal evidence, that the percentage of Englishmen wanting to leave the UK is higher than the number of Scots who do!
© 2016 Bryan A. J. Parry