Sunday, September 20, 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

Wasa okays proposal to extend Taqsem’s tenure by 3 more years

Staff Reporter :Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (Wasa) board members today approved a proposal to extend by three more years the tenure of Taqsem A Khan, the present managing

Women and girls stand in queue at a water-tap of Dhaka WASA with jerrycans, pitchers, and bottles at Dania, Jatrabari in the capital. They alleged of dirty and stinky supply water which force them to collect water from the tap every day. The photo was taken on Saturday.

Women and girls stand in queue at a water-tap of Dhaka WASA with jerrycans, pitchers, and bottles at Dania, Jatrabari in the capital. They alleged of dirty and stinky supply water which force them to collect water from the tap every day. The photo was taken on Saturday.

Job seekers in trouble as recruitment stalls amid pandemic

Noman Mosharef :The deadly coronavirus's severe impact on job seekers may prolong their sufferings and uncertain future. The stall of appointment simply increases the unemployment. Covid-19 impact on economy has

End of border killings to be highest priority: BSF chief

Staff Reporter  :Mentioning that highest priority will be given to stopping the border killings, Director General of Border Security Force (BSF) of India Rakesh Asthana on Saturday said they are

Two killed, 14 wounded after mass shooting in New York

New York Times :Two people were killed and 14 were injured in a shooting at a backyard party in Rochester, New York, in the early hours of Saturday, a police

Mystery shrouds death of 2 sisters in Rangpur Two youths held

Staff Reporter :A murder case has been filed after the recovery of dead bodies of two sisters from the Ganeshpur area of Rangpur city.Mystery shrouds the death of two sisters

TIB demands new MD for Dhaka Wasa, removal of board members

Staff Reporter :Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) on Saturday demanded appointment of a new managing director of Dhaka Wasa -- with qualifications and experience in the relevant sector -- in a

Onion prices decline by Tk 10 to Tk 20 per kg

Staff Reporter :Prices of onion declined by Tk 10 to Tk 20 per kg after trucks with the commodity crossed the border from neighbouring India after five days.Besides, the consumers

N’ganj mosque blast Death toll now 33

Staff Reporter :Two more victims of the Narayanganj mosque explosion have died while undergoing treatment, taking the death toll from the incident to 33.The deceased were identified as Abdul Aziz

Ghoraghat UNO Wahida transferred to Ministry of Public Administration

Ghoraghat UNO Wahida transferred to Ministry of Public Administration

Staff Reporter :Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Wahida Khanam, who is now undergoing treatment at National Institute of Neuroscience and Hospital (NINH) after a brutal attack on September 3 at her