Saturday, October 24, 2020 | ePaper

‘Brexit divorce’

Scots revive call for independence

  • Print

Thousands of people filled Glasgow's George Square waving a variety of flags.

AFP, Edinburgh  :
Britain's departure from the European Union has revived the debate for an independent Scotland, which was thought to have been settled in a landmark referendum nearly six years ago.
Scots voted by a majority of 55 percent to remain part of the United Kingdom in 2014, effectively taking the issue off the table in what was described as a "once-in-a-generation" decision.
But nationalists argue Brexit represents a material change in Scotland's constitutional arrangements with the U.K. government in London.
Some 62 percent of people north of the border voted to remain in the EU in 2016.
That is now prompting some who voted "no" to independence in 2014 but "yes" to stay in the bloc to shift their attitudes on Scotland going its own way after more than 300 years.
"I did vote in the last referendum and I actually voted to remain in the U.K.," said Christopher Clannachan, who took part in an independence march in Glasgow earlier this month.
"I think the Brexit situation has highlighted a real deficit in the U.K.'s Constitution where Scotland votes for one thing and does not see that in return.
"So that's what's changed for me and that's what's changed for a lot of people."
The First Minister of Scotland's devolved Parliament, Nicola Sturgeon, has in recent months been ramping up the pressure for a new independence referendum.
Sturgeon wrote to Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson after the December general election, at which her Scottish National Party (SNP) won a landslide across Scotland.
But Johnson said London would not transfer powers to Edinburgh to hold another referendum, arguing it would "continue the political stagnation that Scotland has seen for the last decade."
Sturgeon accused Johnson's ruling Conservatives of ignoring the will of the people.
"The problem for the Tories is the longer they try to block democracy, the more they show the Westminster union is not one of equals and fuel support for independence," she wrote on Twitter.
The Scottish government is expected to set out its response and next steps in the coming days.
The stand-off could trigger a legal challenge but experts warn such an approach is unlikely to be successful.
"Whether there is a second referendum - and if so, on what terms - is a political question that will be resolved in the political arena," the U.K. Constitutional Law Association assessed in a paper.
"There are no legal short cuts through that space," Chris McCorkindale and Aileen McHarg added in the article, "Constitutional Pathways to a Second Scottish Referendum."
Sturgeon has said the SNP has a mandate for independence based on previous victories in general and Scottish parliamentary elections that have increasingly backed her party.
That has prompted many to point out that it may be prudent for her and fellow nationalists to wait for the next Scottish elections in 2021 to secure more political and moral leverage.
The SNP's leader in the U.K. Parliament, Ian Blackford, has said Conservative Cabinet ministers had conceded that "Westminster cannot keep saying 'no' to a second referendum on independence."
He told the Herald newspaper in an interview that Tory ministers have told him privately that "this is a line which is going to be difficult to hold in the longer term."
Nicola McEwen, a professor of territorial politics at Edinburgh University, says if support for a fresh vote grows to a point where it reflects a clear majority, the U.K. government would likely have to accept.
Pro-independence marches are a common sight on the streets of Scotland's main cities of Glasgow, in the west, and Edinburgh, 50 miles (80 kilometers) away in the east.
Earlier this month, an estimated 80,000 people braved icy winds and torrential rain, waving blue and white Saltire flags and calling for an end to "London rule."
But even if London agrees to allow a second referendum, nationalists still face a battle to secure the support of a majority of their compatriots.
Polls over the past year consistently show no clear majority for either side, making any result too close to call.
"There has been an increase (in support for independence) but it has been modest and has been driven primarily by those who voted to remain in the European Union," McEwen said.
Any economic damage from Brexit in the coming years, however, could fuel Scottish discontent and increase the chances of a "yes" vote to independence.

More News For this Category

HC directive was necessary to save ponds as water reservoir

The government has been asked to include the privately-owned ponds in urban areas across the country under the definition of a natural reservoir. A High Court Bench asked the

Rain across Bangladesh continues

Rain across Bangladesh continues

Staff Reporter :Many parts of the country are experiencing light to moderate rain which is likely to continue for the next 24 hours due to a depression over the

Price hike of essentials drives people into poverty

Reza Mahmud :Prices of essential commodities remained high in the markets despite government's various measures. As a result, consumers are bearing the burden of surplus cost.Besides, millions of low

The Gambia files memorial at ICJ showing Myanmar responsible for genocide against Rohingyas

News Desk :The Gambia on Friday filed a memorial of more than 500-pages in its lawsuit against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice, showing how Myanmar government is

Woman raped by neighbour several times in Gazipur

Our Correspondent :A forty-year-old woman was raped multiple times by her neighbour who threatened to kill her only son if she did not comply.The incident happened in Kaliganj of

Substantial progress into Sinha murder investigation: RAB DG

Staff Reporter :Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) Director General Chowdhury Abdullah Al Mamun responding to queries of journalists after visiting the security arrangements at Ramna Kali Mandir in Dhaka on

Millions more head into UK Covid-19 lockdowns

AFP :Millions more people headed into coronavirus lockdowns in Britain on Friday, as the government boosted a financial support package but acknowledged failures in a hugely expensive testing program.Central

Nearly $600m pledged for Rohingyas, host community

BSS, Dhaka :The international community has pledged some 600 million US dollars to provide strong support for displaced and stateless Rohingya people, wherever they are in Bangladesh, Myanmar and

EC`s high officials under surveillance

Staff Reporter :The top officials of the Election Commission (EC) have been placed under surveillance on suspicion of their involment in the national identity card (NIDs) forgery, correction, duel

At last, a somewhat civil debate between Trump and Biden

At last, a somewhat civil debate between Trump and Biden

Al Jazeera :President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden drew sharp contrasts on policy issues and launched political attacks on each other in a televised debate, the