Movement for Scottish independence gains steam

It appears that the recent local elections in the UK have provided some momentum for the move for Scottish independence. The Scottish National Party that supports independence won 64 of the 129 seats in the Scottish and will form the next government and their leader Nicola Sturgeon has said that they will seek another referendum on the issue.

Nicola Sturgeon has pledged to press ahead with plans for a second independence referendum after the Scottish National party won its fourth consecutive Holyrood election, triggering a constitutional battle with Boris Johnson.

In a letter issued before the final results were declared, Johnson attempted to blunt Sturgeon’s attack by urging the first minister and her opposite numbers in Wales and Northern Ireland to join a UK-wide Covid recovery summit involving all four governments.

It was in the UK’s interests for the governments to work collaboratively, the British prime minister wrote, taking a softer approach than on Friday when called a fresh referendum “irresponsible and reckless”.

Sturgeon said Scottish voters had given Holyrood a clear mandate by electing a pro-independence majority larger than that in the last Holyrood parliament, with eight Green MSPs elected across Scotland’s regions. It was an “extraordinary” result, she said.

In a victory speech in Glasgow, the first minister said any attempt by the UK government to block that would be a democratic outrage. “It is the will of the country,” she said, buoyed up by a record 64% turnout for a Holyrood election.

The question on whether a referendum will be held is a complex one.

The Scottish government has indicated that it will bring in a referendum bill and challenge the UK government to contest it in the supreme court. If it does, it is likely that the court will strike it down on the grounds that the Scotland Act clearly states that the union between Scotland and England is a matter reserved to Westminster. The UK government will refuse to grant a “section 30 order”, as it did for 2014, allowing the Scottish government to hold a referendum. The SNP leadership has made it clear that it will not defy the law or hold a Catalan-style unilateral referendum. It is aware, unlike the Catalans, that the only route to international recognition is through an agreement with the UK. Even if the Scottish government were to find a way to stage a purely advisory referendum (in effect, a giant opinion poll), Westminster would not react like the Spanish authorities and send in the police to disrupt it. More likely, it would simply ignore it.

If a referendum on independence is held and passes, it is likely that Scotland will try to rejoin the EU, since they voted to remain in the Brexit referendum. This means another customs and tariffs border headache with England, to add to the existing difficulties with the border between the Republic of Ireland (which is in the EU) and Northern Ireland (which is part of the UK and is out of the EU).

Northern Ireland’s trading relationship with the EU was settled before the TCA [EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement] by the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland in the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement. It means that Northern Ireland remains subject to EU customs law and huge swathes of EU law on trade in goods.

Designed to avoid checks at the Irish border, the new trade barriers with the rest of the UK are becoming increasingly apparent, with supermarket shelves empty in Northern Ireland because British suppliers are being held up by customs bureaucracy. In the long term, Northern Ireland may have to rely less on Great Britain and strengthen supply chains and distribution networks with Ireland.

This is going to pose a problem for UK prime minister Boris Johnson. He will have to tread very delicately to avoid antagonizing the many constituencies involved, not exactly his strong suit.


  1. Matt G says

    Scotland’s nationalism is driving them towards internationalism. Or is it the other way around?

  2. AndrewD says

    A fundamental problem for the Brexit supporters is that all their arguments for Brexit can be used against them in favour of Scottish independence.
    Free Scotland Now!

  3. Who Cares says

    There is another reason why the Scots will not try to declare independence unilaterally.
    The Spanish have already put down their foot, to prevent giving precedence to among others the independence of Catalonia. Unless the independence of Scotland is done in cooperation with the main government in Westminster the Spanish will vote against granting EU membership to Scotland. And since it requires 100% yes votes of all the nation already in the EU to get in that means unilateral independence means no EU membership.

  4. sonofrojblake says

    It’ll pose no problem for BoJo. He g doesn’t need Scottish MPs now that dumbfuck northern mining towns in England are voting Tory.

  5. KG says

    Sturgeon doesn’t seem to have a strategy for the Supreme Court ruling against a referendum without a “section 30 derogation” (i.e., Johnson’s say-so), and Johnson refusing -- or if she is, she’s kept very quiet about it. This has been causing some discontent within the SNP, although the good election result has re-established her hold over the party for the time being -- and the ignominious failure of Alex Salmond’s We-Hate-Nicola-Sturgeon-Party (“Alba”) to come anywhere near gaining a seat will be even more pleasing to her. As a Scottish Green activist, I’m delighted the SNP fell just short of an overall majority -- they’ll need to rely on our MSPs to get referendum legislation through, but again, even more delighted the odious Salmond and his disparate crew of bigots and chancers came a cropper. We gained two seats and a significant increase in vote share, alhough less than some polls predicted -- and were probably robbed of at least one and maybe two more seats by a fascist front party, “Independent Green Voice”, who were allowed by the Electoral Commission to use a misleading logo on the ballot paper. (Prof. John Curtice’s comments at the end of the linked article are bullshit: the number of voters that would have had to have been fooled to cost us the seats is too small to show up by comparing our performance in regions where the fascists did and did not stand, and the complaint made is not about the name, but the way it was portrayed on the ballot paper, with “Green” in large type and the other words much smaller.)

  6. mnb0 says

    Northern-Ireland/Ulster voted against the Brexit as well.

    So an independent Scotland within the EU, replacing England as supervisor and cooperating with Eire, might very well be the only way to prevent Troubles II. The Ulster protestant DUP is not so fond of the English conservatives anymore:

    The Ian Paisly in that article is the son of.
    It will be a long way.

  7. KG says

    That makes no sense at all. The DUP’s allies in Scotland -- the Orange Order exists in both Scotland and Northern Ireland -- are as fanatically opposed to Scottish independence, as they are to Irish unity. Even were this not the case, the last thing the government of an independent Scotland would want is entanglement in Northern Ireland!

  8. Sunday Afternoon says

    The SNP had a slogan: “Independence in Europe!” in the 1980’s -- thank you Jim Sillars!

    It made almost as much sense when Salmond (with some background in economics) ahead of the referendum saying that Scotland would just continue to use the pound sterling as the currency after independence. Still tied to England financially, but willfully giving up any political influence on fiscal policy. F*#&^ng stupid -- the only cogent argument is for an independent Scottish currency if there is political independence.

  9. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    the only cogent argument is for an independent Scottish currency if there is political independence.

    Or have plans in place to rejoin the EU and just use the Euro, right?

  10. Sunday Afternoon says


    Or have plans in place to rejoin the EU and just use the Euro, right?

    But using the Euro wasn’t what was proposed.

    Presumably as it would reveal that at its core, the SNP independence argument is a huge inferiority complex wrt the English (I say that as an ex-pat Scot). I would have far more respect for the SNP if they had the courage of their claimed convictions and advocated for a Scottish currency as a necessity for independence.

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