Should Scotland break away from the UK? In 2014, Scotland took the voting booths to answer this exact question, with 55% of the Scottish population deciding to remain part of the UK. In 2019, we now ask, is another referendum needed?
Nicola sturgeon has called for a referendum again. In recent weeks, the calls for the another vote have grown, with her telling Andrew Marr recently ‘I’m putting legislation through the Scottish Parliament right now, to put the rules and regulations in place’ ready for the ‘Indyref2’.
Many have asked what is the point of another referendum. This is down to the massive elephant in the room that seems to absorb everything in British politics at the moment, Brexit.
Scotland is very much at odds with what Parliament are doing, with 62% of the population voting to remain. The highlight of their dissatisfaction with parliament’s recent actions can be shown by Boris Johnson’s recent visit to Scotland, in which he was met by a wave of boo’s while greeting Nicola Sturgeon.
With Nicola Sturgeon’s rhetoric backed up by ‘pro-independence marches all over Scotland’, the question has certainly moved to the centre of British politics once again. So with that being said, should Scotland leave the UK?
The question our editors face therefore is not whether or not there should be a Scottish referendum, but whether or not it would be good for Scotland to leave for both Scotland and England, or should Parliament do everything in their power to keep Scotland part of the UK.
Scottish Independence is a Scottish matter: Westminster imperialism has gone on too long – a Labour article
The Labour stance on Scottish Independence is complex. In a move which contradicts the manifesto, as well as the stance of scottish Labour MSPs, John McDonnell announced at the Edinburgh Fringe that “the Scottish parliament will come to a considered view and they will submit that to the government and the English parliament itself. If the Scottish people decide they want a referendum, that’s for them.” In summary; he believes the question of a second independence referendum isn’t for the english parliament to decide and impose on the Scots. Jeremy Corbyn further reinforced this stance in a later interview, taking the pragmatic view that “it’s not up to parliament to block it but it’s up to parliament to make a point whether it is a good idea or not. I do not think it is a good idea.”
The problem of this sudden change of tact, is the implications for the unity of the Labour party – Scottish Labour MSPs responded with the statement, “Labour’s position on Scotland’s future is a decision for Scottish Labour, which the UK party must accept.” Whilst I fully accept the anger of the MSPs following this sudden change of stance, I am inclined to believe that the greater injustice would be the english Government in Westminster refusing a referendum to Scotland, despite recent polls revealing that support for independence has reached 52%… a figure which won the Brexit referendum. It would be a dangerous act of hypocrisy, the implications of which would entrench existing divides.
One only needs to look at what’s happening in Catalonia to realise that independence movements can escalate into violence. Of course, Scotland has remained peaceful during its countless campaigns and requests for independence referendums, however frustration is building. Only a few days ago, on the 13th October, the SNP leadership faced calls in Aberdeen to enact a ‘plan B’, in which they ‘do a Catalonia’ and begin independence negotiations without the constitutional approval of London. The independence movement is far from diminishing in Scotland, and my worry is that another imperialist rejection of a referendum from Westminster could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
The ‘B word’ makes the question of Scottish independence even more urgent, of course I’m talking about Brexit *sigh*. In the 2016 brexit referendum, Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain, with every single one of Scotland’s 32 local authority areas rejecting brexit, in total 62 per cent of those who voted. The idea that Brexit, something that Scotland utterly rejected as a unified nation, could be forced upon them, is quite outrageous. Especially as Scotland is not mentioned once in the latest withdrawal agreement. The imposition of Brexit on Scotland would only be another reason to escalate the independence movement, as such, the only way to diffuse tensions is to offer a referendum.
Many in Scotland propose leaving the UK to remain in the EU, the only problem being that this might not be so easy. EU entry requirements could make the maintenance of scottish currency, tax policies, and membership of the UK single market rather difficult. The question of borders would also be problematic, as we have seen in the case of Ireland.
However, some have drawn parallels with the case of Denmark, given the similarity of population size and resources. They suggest that if it worked for the danes, it can work for the scots, Scotland would simply have to wean itself off the UK’s economy and begin restructuring its own economy.
Overall, I side with Jeremy Corbyn’s stance on Scottish independence; it isn’t something that the UK government should ban, it’s a question for the Scots. Brexit has catalysed the issue, with the support of independence skyrocketing. It is time to let Scotland propose a referendum if they reach an agreement to do so in Holyrood; questions over the possibility to reenter the EU are problems that Scotland should be left to consider.
By Chief Labour Editor, Isabella Jewell
Point of Information
Wise words to the Scottish movement, but let’s take a break from referendum for a second? – a Liberal response
Miss Jewell proposes some very sensible words of wisdom to Scottish and English MP’s. A Catalonia type situation is the last thing this country needs or wants. The UK is so divided already, to create a bigger gap between Parliament and Scotland is the last thing needed right now and I think Miss Jewell is wise to point this out. We must to a point allow Scotland to dictate their own fate.
This being said, I think we need to slow Scotland down a bit. Running off into the sunset with a piece of paper which says independence might of worked for America all that time ago, but I don’t think it will have such a happy ending. The UK is already going through a massive constitutional shift, which was caused by a referendum. I firstly worry about MP’s being so eager to give the power back to the people in the form of a referendum. The British politically system was not built to have referendums of course.
I think we need to slow the process down, and allow for British politics to settle first. Before we move onto decide any more massive constitutional changes, we must sort out the ones we currently face, and that is another warning I think Miss Jewell missed out.
Scotland and Sturgeon must stop being cry babies. Scotland must accept the UK’s decision – a Conservative response
Miss Jewell writes “The Labour stance on Scottish Independence is complex. In a move which contradicts the manifesto.” It appears Miss Jewell might be secretly wanting to help my Conservative party and my cause. Why should we trust a crazy Corbyn led government who have an extremely complex and unnecessary position on Scotland? It beats me.
What does agitate me on the issue of Scotland is quotes like this. “I am inclined to believe that the greater injustice would be the English Government in Westminster refusing a referendum to Scotland, despite recent polls revealing that support for independence has reached 52%.” If we allowed government policy to be dictated by recent polls, then no governance would get done. The Scottish independence vote was a once in a generation vote and Scotland must accept this Brexit or not.
“The idea that Brexit, something that Scotland utterly rejected as a unified nation, could be forced upon them, is quite outrageous.” It is my understanding that Scotland is part of the United Kingdom and that the UK overall voted to leave the EU. Scotland must stop thinking of itself as a special state who receive dispensation just because. The referendum result was clear and as Scotland is part of our glorious union they must accept the electorate’s decision to leave.
Just on the issues of the Economy and Security, Scottish independence is a bad move – a Conservative article
In 2014 Scotland spoke and elected to stay in the United Kingdom. Five years on the call for Scottish independence is still being heard especially with Brexit completely changing the political landscape. Nicola Sturgeon is using Brexit as a rally cry to fight again for Scottish independence. I believe that she is blinded by her nationalism and I will argue why Scotland is far better off in the glorious United Kingdom.
Economically, Scottish Independence in 2020 will be extremely dangerous especially with Scotland being heavily dependent on oil revenues. In 2001 Scotland’s oil revenues was “in excess of £9 Billion to the economy.” Yet post the Scottish referendum oil prices slumped with “the revenue had gone from £9bn to a mere £60m.” As an independent country this could have had a catastrophic effect and with oil prices staying low, Scotland will seriously struggle without being part of the UK.
Scotland would also severely struggle outside of the United Kingdom due to its outrageously high deficit. “Scotland’s deficit is higher than the UK average an estimated 7 per cent of GDP, as opposed to the UK’s 2 per cent.” The reason why is due to the SNP’s terrible spending habits resulting in Scottish public spending being “13.6% higher per head than the UK average and revenue collected being 2.6% lower.” There is a gap of nearly £2000 between public spending and tax revenue which is highly worrying. So if we cannot trust the SNP with the deficit, then why should we trust them with what would be the most politically and economical difficult time in Scotland’s history.
The SNP would be in charge of keeping Scotland’s economy afloat while trying to enter the European Union. Scotland would have to adopt the Euro as well as join the Schengen and yet with all of this, the EU would have to force Scotland into strong austerity measure due to its eye-watering deficit of 7%. This is due to the EU’s “excessive deficit procedure” for countries over 3%. So if Scotland choose to leave it would have to adopt dangerous levels of Austerity due the poor policies of the SNP.
Furthermore, we haven’t even talked about the benefits Scotland receives due to being part of the UK. Scotland’s home market trade “with the rest of UK is worth £48.9billion-a-year to Scotland’s economy. It makes up 60 per cent of all exports, dwarfing trade with the EU.” Scotland would be worsening ties and creating trade barriers with its biggest trading partner. This is an insensible thing to do especially with us seeing how difficult trade talks are in relation to Brexit. In addition, the people of Scotland all benefit from being part of the UK due to Scotland only generating 8% of all the UK taxes, but “benefits from 9.3%of the UK’s public spending.” All of this would disappear with an independent Scotland.
My final point is on Security. With Scotland being part of our glorious union we are entitled to keep them safe with our nuclear deterrent. The SNP’s policy on Trident is to get rid of it in order to save cash and that is not surprising with their horrendous deficit. However, I believe this is wrong. Our Nuclear deterrent is vital in this crazy world for the protection and security of our land. By leaving the UK Scotland will lose this and I do not want to see Scotland lose this deterrent. Scotland is safer in the UK as well as economically far better off in the UK.
Written by Conservative Editor, Jack Kane
Point of Information
Mr Kane makes a strong argument for Scotland to remain, and I buy it – a Liberal response
Although Mr Kane’s rhetoric is perhaps a bit distasteful for many to hear including me, I do think he makes an excellent overall point – Scotland should not leave and I agree with him. I do worry just as Mr Kane does that Scotland would struggle on its own. My article says very similar things to Mr Kane, but I put my hands up and concede Mr Kane’s article which is backed up by a wave of fact really does almost makes my semi-irrelevant.
I think in a time of where feeling trumps fact, and indeed post-truth itself means taking fact and creating your own truth infused with passion, Scotland should be rational and take note of these facts.
If we give the people another vote, they will vote with passion not fact. They may make a choice which they seriously regret, just like Brexit. I think purely for our neighbours sake, we can’t allow Scotland to leave just yet.
The so called United Kingdom is far from ‘glorious’ – a Labour response
Mr Kane’s argument does provide a thorough examination of Scotland’s economy, he is correct in the belief that independence is not an easy option, although I do wonder why he is a supporter of Brexit if the Economy is his major preoccupation…
My main problem with Mr Kane’s argument is the recurring use of language which idolises the UK: ‘the glorious United Kingdom’ our ‘glorious union’… I don’t know where Mr Kane has been for the last three years, but ‘glorious’ and ‘union’ are the antonyms of the UK at the moment. It seems like he’s wearing the rose-tinted glasses of leave campaigners who evoke – and embellish – past centuries of Great Britain, making reference to those lovely World Wars and the entirely benevolent British Empire.
Mr Kane’s argument is worryingly England-centred; he seems to believe it the divine right of Westminster to dictate to Scotland their own future. Don’t worry Nicola, when Brexit happens at least we’ll be united in our downfall!
More seriously, Mr Kane does make some solid assertions. Yes, the economic future of Scotland would be complex if they leave the United Kingdom, but surely they have the right to decide for themselves whether to impart on an economic disaster with the rest of the Unite Kingdom, or if they’d prefer to take the other unknown path of independence.
Brexit has ‘completely changed the political landscape’, and as such Scotland should have the right to decide between two uncertain outcomes; remaining in the UK with Brexit, or leaving in the attempt to re-join the EU.
Staying works best for both parties as unfortunate as that is for Scotland – a Liberal article
There are three reasons as to why I and Liberals think the UK should stay together, and not see Scotland venture out on its own. I think it is of vital importance that the UK keeps Scotland close for many economic reasons. I believe that Scotland will suffer some of the same fate as Britain but worse as they will not be accepted into the European Union under any circumstance. Finally, I do not want to see our Northern brethren leave in a time of crisis.
If another Scottish referendum does occur in 2020 as Nicola Sturgeon hopes for, and Scotland decides to leave, I do wish the best for them and if that is what the people of Scotland want them we must accept their decision. However, for Scotland it would be a tough rebirth for their country to deal with.
Most small countries would look to the EU for economic support through the benefits of their trade across the continent and beyond and their strong institutions from beaucracy to legal matters whilst the pound will remain their currency. However, this seemingly crucial aspect for Scotland to have a successful break away from the UK, would be blocked by Spain.
Spain, just as they were back during the first Scottish independence referendum, are incredibly concerned about this issue. They do not want to see countries break away from their big brother and go it alone. This is because there ‘are still “hesitations” about Scottish independence in Spain, which is concerned about Catalonia breaking away’. Spain will not want Scotland to be a beacon of light for Catalonia to have for them to break away from Spain, and be successful.
Now there are more reasons than this for a Scotland to remain in the UK. For many Scots they will be well aware of the advantages of the UK, but why should the UK want to keep Scotland. This question has not been examined in the same way.
Scotland’s economy is providing a nice boost to the UK at the moment with GDP growing ‘slightly stronger in Scotland than the UK average‘. Having ”resources and share risks across Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland” has protected the UK from major economic collapse, and the diversity itself provides strength for both the UK and Scotland. It also allows businesses to connect more easily and hit a bigger population to sell products. In addition, if Scotland leaves the UK, this will ultimately mean the UK will lose ‘North Sea oil.’
I think seeing Scotland break from the UK would be economically challenging for both sides, but more importantly I don’t want to see the UK break up. If it is the wish of Scotland to leave, I wish them the best in the near future. However, I personally and rationally think the UK should keep Britain, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and we should move together, not drift apart.
By Chief Liberal Editor, Max Anderson
Point of Information
Scotland must decide between two different unions: The United Kingdom or the European Union – a Labour response
I applaud the sentiment of Mr Anderson’s argument; in a moment of division and polarised politics, unity is important for the UK. The problem lies, I believe, in the failure to recognise that it is not the place of the UK to dictate what happens to Scotland.
Brexit has changed the game, no longer is it just a question of unity for the Scots, rather a choice between ‘united isolation’ in the UK, whereby Scotland’s economy will take huge blows, or the short term trauma of leaving the UK for the long term benefit of EU membership. Unlike Mr Anderson, I do not believe it impossible that the EU would accept Scotland; the fact – as I underlined in my article – that Scotland has shown its commitment to the European project would earn deep sympathy. Furthermore, as Mr Anderson has argued, Scotland’s economy is stable, another prerequisite for joining the EU. It is important to ask oneself, why should Scotland be dragged out of a union that they cherish? The figures do highlight which union the Scots favour at the moment…
The Catalonia situation is worrying, and I do understand Mr Anderson’s hesitations, however it should not be a reason to deny Scotland the power to make a choice regarding their own future. Allowing a democratic process in Scotland would serve as a stark contrast to the behaviour of Spain, which has responded to the Catalan independence movement by imprisoning those who disagree with the status quo – hardly in keeping with the European value of democracy…
Scotland is better in the United Kingdom and Mr Anderson knows it – a Conservative response
I am happy again to report that Mr Anderson for the second week running has written an article that I agree with, though I must critique him one issue.
My only problem is when Mr Anderson writes “whilst the pound will remain their currency.” The key part of Scotland joining the EU is that it must agree to be part of Schengen while also accepting the euro. Very few Scots want this and with them accepting the Euro they must accept serve spending cuts due to their horrendous deficit. It would economically be wrong to inflict this pain onto Scotland, especially due to Scotland being so heavily reliant on oil revenues which have drastically shrunk in recent years.
However, with my critique over Mr Anderson does write that ”resources and share risks across Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland has protected the UK from major economic collapse.” I could not agree more. We are safer and stronger as a union and as a collective rather than many independent countries. Our combined economies have made and will make economic life for us far easier than if we were split into two countries.