A piece from the Guardian notes the reaction to the British exit from the European Union with another Scottish independence referendum, and the breakup of the United Kingdom likely, “Scotland is on the brink of staging a fresh referendum on independence after Nicola Sturgeon requested talks with the EU on separate membership after the UK’s vote to leave. The first minister said she believed a second referendum on independence was highly likely after Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain within the EU, but was unable to prevent the leave campaign winning by 52% to 48% across the UK as a whole. Sturgeon said that was a “democratic outrage” and constituted the clear, material change in Scotland’s circumstances referred to in the Scottish National party’s carefully worded manifesto commitment in May to hold a second independence vote if needed”.
The report mentions that “Sturgeon announced that she was instructing Scottish government officials to draft fresh referendum legislation for Holyrood, only two years after her party lost the first independence vote in 2014, to ensure it could be held quickly if enough Scottish voters backed it. UK government sources said David Cameron, who quit as prime minister after the referendum defeat, was anxious that his successor make sure the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland government were closely involved in the UK’s Brexit negotiations to avoid increasing Scottish grievances and fuelling the case for independence. Sturgeon’s cabinet will meet in emergency session on Saturday morning at her official residence Bute House, and is expected to agree plans to put forward referendum legislation in September’s programme for government. Holyrood would need Westminster’s legislative approval to stage an official referendum, as it did in 2014. Cameron had previously said no UK government would give that again so soon, but Sturgeon said on Friday it would be inconceivable for Westminster to ignore a democratic vote by MSPs requesting that authority”.
Crucially the report adds “In a significant boost to her strategy, MSPs in the Scottish Green party indicated she could win the six Scottish Green votes in the Scottish parliament that she needs to ensure a Holyrood majority, as momentum behind a second vote sharply rose after the UK result became clear. The most recent polls suggest independence does not yet have clear majority support, but SNP sources and activists within Women for Independence (WFI) said there had been a surge in membership requests on Friday, with people offering to campaign and donating money. The SNP said it had been inundated with emails from previous no voters now pledging their support for independence after the conclusion of the EU referendum. The Radical Independence Campaign, which was heavily involved in registering first-time and alienated working-class voters during the last referendum campaign, likewise reported an increase in donations. “The surge is back on,” said one WFI activist. A number of prominent former no voters have declared themselves ready to consider supporting independence should another referendum be called. The novelist Jenny Colgan, who wrote for the Guardian in September 2014 of the joy of Britishness, tweeted that she was weeping with relief as Sturgeon promised to fight for the interests of Scots who had voted to remain”.
Crucially it mentions “Echoing earlier remarks by her predecessor Alex Salmond, Sturgeon said it made clear logical sense for those powers to be in place quickly and before the UK’s exit from the EU was completed by an expected deadline of 2018. There will be added urgency to that timetable after senior European commission and parliament figures said they wanted the Brexit talks speeded up, and for the UK to leave as soon as possible to lessen the uncertainty now facing the EU. Sturgeon said pressing ahead with an independence bill would ensure a seamless transition for Scotland from having EU membership as part of the UK to having it as an independent nation. She said her primary concern was to ensure that Scotland’s vote to remain in the EU, by 62% to 38%, was brought into effect. She said she would “take all possible steps and explore all options to give effect to how people in Scotland voted. In other words, to secure our continuing place in the EU and in the single market in particular.” Sturgeon is writing this weekend to all EU member states to set out her case for Scotland remaining in the UK and to press for urgent talks in Brussels with the European commission president, Jean-Claude Junker, during which she will emphasise Scotland’s strong pro-European vote”.
It ends “Sturgeon was careful to avoid giving any guarantee, however, that a second referendum would be held, stressing that the challenges of leaving the UK were complex and still unclear because the UK-EU negotiations had not yet begun. The SNP would face significant economic, legal and political questions about leaving the UK. With the collapse in oil prices but high levels of public spending, it has a structural deficit of £15bn, and a weak economy hovering close to recession. It would need to strike a deal with London about paying off its share of the UK’s £1.6tn debt. It would also face losing Scotland’s share of the UK rebate, having to find the cash needed for Scotland’s contribution to the EU, and require the EU’s agreement on its currency. EU members may expect Scotland to join the euro”.