In 2014, Scotland voted to remain part of the United Kingdom. The result was 55.3% in favour of maintaining the Union, on an unprecedented turnout of 84.6%. But would the referendum have succeeded by such a margin if voters knew that sticking with the UK meant abandoning the EU?
Polling suggests that Scotland is significantly more pro-EU than the rest of the UK. So, what happens if a majority of Scots back “Remain” in the upcoming EU membership referendum in June, while a majority of English voters plump for “Leave”?
Have you already made your mind up which way to vote? Do YOU think Britain should leave the European Union? Let us know what you think in the poll below:
We had a comment from Barbara, who thinks that if the UK votes “Leave”, then “Scotland will have another referendum and will separate this time”.
To get a response, we spoke to Mike Hookem, a Member of the European Parliament with the UK Independence Party (UKIP).
How did he think Brexit would affect Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom?
Scotland does have a different political spectrum to the UK, being much more left wing and having a government which preaches the benefits of the EU without any real opposition to that theory. But I cannot imagine the Scottish people wanting to join the euro, which they would have to do if they left the UK and joined as a separate country, and I am sure there would be a real voice of opposition calling for Scotland to take the opportunity to regain control of her territorial waters which have been plundered by the Common Fisheries Policy.
In Scotland in recent years, whilst England has been debating independence from Brussels, Edinburgh has been obsessed with ‘independence’ from Westminster. But there can be no independence for the Scottish people outside the UK but still inside the EU: it is an entirely false argument and one which Nigel Farage and Alex Salmond will be debating publicly soon.
For another perspective, we spoke to Kirsty Hughes, an Associate Fellow at Friends of Europe who has authored and in-depth policy paper looking at the upcoming EU referendum in the UK through the lens of Scotland. What would she say to Barbara?
If the UK leaves the EU it will add to the arguments for Scotland leaving the UK, and it will increase support in Scotland for independence. But I don’t think it will necessarily lead to a new referendum for independence overnight.
I think there will be a big political crisis in the UK if there’s a vote for Brexit. I think Northern Ireland, Scotland, and perhaps Wales too, are all likely to vote ‘Remain’. And the Scottish National Party might want to see how that unfolds, and also how big a demand there is for a new independence vote in Scotland before going ahead. There are quite a lot of people in Scotland who support independence, but don’t want another vote until they have stronger arguments about having their own currency, and how to be competitive economically.
So, I think there’s a tendency to think it’s an automatic thing that Scotland will go independent. I think Brexit would make it more likely, but it’s a bit more complicated than some think.
How would Brexit affect Scottish independence? What happens if England votes to “Leave”, while Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales choose to “Remain”? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!