Could Brexit break-up the UK? In 2014, Scotland held a referendum on independence which nationalists lost by 55% to 45%. However, among the issues influencing Scottish voters was the fear that Scotland would be ejected from the European Union if they chose independence. Indeed, Scots tend to be more pro-EU than the English (and during the 2016 Brexit referendum a majority of Scottish voters backed continued EU membership).
Now that the UK has decided to leave the EU, and given that the British government seems to be pursuing a so-called ‘hard Brexit’ option, is a second independence vote justified? In the run-up to the Scottish Parliament elections (held one month before the June 2016 EU referendum), the Scottish National Party published a manifesto pledging to fight for a second independence referendum if Scotland was “taken out of the EU against our will”.
On 13 March 2017, Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, announced that she would indeed be pursuing a second referendum. She wants to hold a vote before spring 2019, when the outline of Britain’s future relationship with the EU is clearer but before it has formally left the bloc. British Prime Minister Theresa May has criticised the proposed timing of the second referendum, but has not ruled it out completely.
Should Scotland hold a second referendum on independence? Has the threat of ‘hard Brexit’ changed the equation? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!