Edinburgh, Mar 30: The United Kingdom in a historic decision on June 23, 2016, had voted for an ouster from the European Union bloc and had befuddled investors and businessmen like never before with it. However, with the voters of Scotland and Northern Ireland having opted to remain in the bloc, this divorce of UK from the EU can possibly take a very interesting turn, however, certainly not for the UK Prime Minister Theresa May.
Following an agreement between the Scottish and the UK government, a Scottish Independence Referendum Bill had been passed and put to vote in 2014, in which 55.3% of Scots opted to remain with the UK and not form an independent country. However, only two years later, 62% Scots voted to remain with the bloc and thereby triggered a dire need of second independence referendum in Scotland.
With rising concerns regarding Brexit among the top brass of the two nations, Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has pledged to press on with the second independence referendum following UK PM Theresa May’s triggering of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty on Wednesday. Sturgeon dismissed Theresa May’s promise of substantial new powers for Scotland after Brexit, saying triggering of Article 50 was “one of the most destructive acts by a British leader in modern history, threatening hundreds of thousands of jobs across the UK.”
She said that the decision was “dispiriting, economically foolhardy and constitutionally reckless, threatening stability in Northern Ireland. It also undermined European efforts to combat climate change and collective security,” she said.
“Brexit, especially the hard Brexit shaped by May’s inability to shake off the agenda of the UK Independence Party-tinged right wing of her own party, threatens to be an act of self-harm on a scale barely understood,” said Sturgeon.
She accused May of paying only superficial attention to the Scottish government’s demands for a special deal on the single market, opening up further conflicts with the UK government over the benefits Scotland could gain from Brexit.
“The result is that we must now ensure that people in Scotland are given a choice between the hard Brexit deal now being negotiated and independence,” she said.
Just as PM May told MPs at Westminster she had formally triggered Article 50, Sturgeon had received a letter from David Davis, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, insisting his government was engaging seriously with Sturgeon’s proposals.
Neither of the governments would release Davis’s letter but it is understood that he told Sturgeon about his disappointment concerning her claim for an independence referendum in Scotland before she even saw the full extent of the new powers on offer once EU laws and regulations were repatriated.
Sturgeon has however dismissed his letter, saying that it only included “a dismissal of our compromise proposals to keep Scotland in the single market at the same time as the article 50 letter was sent”.
According to a new polling data from the social research agency ScotCen, a large majority of Scottish voters were wary of a separate Scottish deal with the EU despite having opted to remain in June 2016 referendum.
While a large majority preferring to remain part of the EU single market and agreeing to more migration to get a trade deal, the agency found that a majority of both leave and remain voters wanted Scotland to have the same immigration rules and the same trade rules as England and Wales.
Around 64% of Scots wanted EU migrants to have the same immigration rights as non-EU migrants, 65% wanted customs checks while around 59% wanted a ban on migrants getting welfare.
Prof John Curtice, the elections expert who oversaw the study, said that these figures raised challenging questions for Sturgeon as she seeks to increase backing for independence by using Brexit as leverage. “Against this backdrop, it seems that at present at least, any second attempt to try to persuade voters to vote for independence because of the allegedly unsatisfactory shape of the Brexit deal is unlikely to prove particularly persuasive,” he said.
Thus, with dire uncertainties looming over both the nations, a tug-of-war for power and independence goes on between politicians and Parliaments of the two countries, with England, Wales and Northern Ireland on the pathway to leave the EU, and Scotland looking to break apart from UK of which it has been a part of since 1707, and join hands with the 27 European nations of the bloc.