TW Viewpoint | Will Brexit Prompt Scotland's Independence?November 15, 2017 | Jonathan Riley
We find ourselves treading on new political ground. Up until 1973 there had never been a referendum held in the United Kingdom, parliamentary sovereignty was the accepted decision making method for all matters. Yet since 1973 we have seen three nation-wide referendums (two of which were on the UK's relationship with Europe), and eight on issues concerning individual within the United Kingdom.
In 1975 almost 65% of the population turned out to vote in the first nation-wide referendum on whether the UK should continue as a member of the EEC or European Economic Community. Roughly two thirds voted "yes" and one third "no". With such a decisive result the government was presented with a clear mandate on the matter of further economic integration with Europe.
On the 18th of September 2014 Scotland held its first referendum on independence. The question posed to the Scottish public was "Should Scotland be an independent country?". With an almost record breaking turnout of 85% the results were 55% "no" and 45% "yes". As dramatic close-calls go, this referendum result was expected to be a white knuckle ride. In the days leading up to the referendum there appeared to be shift towards a Yes vote and many became confident that Scotland was to finally break away from the Union. The result was a divided Scotland on what many consider to be the single most important question of its long, tempestuous history.
In 2016, the second nation-wide referendum on the UK's relationship with Europe was held, asking the public whether they should remain in, or leave the European Union. There was a 72% turnout of eligible voters which resulted in the closest call imaginable, with 48.11% voting to remain and 51.89% voting to leave. It had been 41 years since the previous referendum on remaining a member of the EEC, but by 2016 the transformation from an economic community to a European Union had resulted in monumental changes to how the United Kingdom was to be governed. Closer ties to Europe had both positive and negative connotations from the public's perspective.
The results of this referendum divided families, especially when considering the polarized views of the older and younger generations. Those born before 1975 would have witnessed the changes in the UK's relationship with Europe and tended to vote in favour of the 'Leave campaign', whereas the younger generation which had only known closer ties with Europe, tended to vote 'Remain'. This was true across the UK with the biggest and most obvious exception of Scotland.
National divides could not have been drawn more decisively than the outcome of the 2016 referendum. Every council area of Scotland voted to remain, even in the Shetland and Orkney isles which had previously voted against EEC membership in 1975. The results within Scotland were 38% to leave and 62% to remain.
Scotland stands divided over the question of sovereignty but for the most part is in collective agreement with its desire to remain in Europe. The inevitable follow-up question to all of this is "Should Scotland hold a second referendum on independence?"
There are far too many variables to consider when asking this question: Would the EU accept Scotland's return? Would the nation be financially viable? Especially considering their depleting North Sea assets and current low cost of oil. Would an independent Scotland join Nato? Would it keep the pound or adopt the Euro? In the current post Brexit climate, it would seem that a second referendum on Scottish independence would be simply asking the nation to choose which cliff to dive from, into political uncertainty.
Since the 1st of May 1707 the United Kingdom of Great Britain has existed. The Union has been at the forefront of global trade, it has influenced global affairs and had a greater impact in world affairs over the past three centuries, arguably, more than any other nation; for better or for worse.
What do you think Scotland should do now? Please comment below and let us know what you think is best for the nation.
Tomorrow's World Viewpoint is not taking a side one way or the other on this issue, as we are apolitical and do not encourage participation in any direction. We are however hopeful that people will examine the background and implications of events, and where they can lead in the future. If you would like to learn more about the history of the Scottish people please click the link in the description box below to read our article "Who Are The Scots?"
I am Jonathan Riley for Tomorrow's World Viewpoint.