Since Brexit the shouts for a second independence referendum have become louder and louder.
Supporters of independence would do well to take heed of Nicola Sturgeon’s pragmatic position. Brexit does constitute the kind of change that justifies the question being asked again – the Britain Scotland voted to remain part of has changed utterly since September 18 2014 – but it doesn’t appear this will be enough to convince people to vote Yes next time.
There has been no huge rise in support for independence since the UK voted to leave and a recent YouGov poll found 46 per cent in favour of independence and just 38 per cent wanting a second referendum.
The reality is the independence supporters who want the question asked will not like the answer.
A second defeat will kill the issue for decades because, while one defeat saw the movement grow, another loss at the polls will mean it has been rejected even more decisively especially if the margin is similar. It will be far more difficult to justify a third referendum.
People are scunnered by politics at the moment. Since 2014 we have had a European election, an independence referendum, a UK election, a Scottish election and an EU referendum. There is the possibility of a UK election sometime soon – especially if the Conservatives remain so divided – and a council election next year. It’s a lot for even hardened political anoraks to keep up with never mind everyone else. We need a break.
Europe seems sympathetic to Scotland’s overwhelming vote to remain but it keeps being made clear by the UK government that a different deal from Scotland will not be on the table. We voted to remain in the UK two years ago so we’re leaving the EU with the UK.
A second campaign for independence is going to have to be very different from the last one. The country is in an even more uncertain place than it was then and more upheaval will put people off. The major problem is still going to be currency and it’s one that is going to have to be dealt with sooner or later.
It may well be time to back a separate Scottish currency especially with the pound tanking in the wake of the vote to leave and failing to recover. If an independent Scotland wished to remain in the EU there’s the possibility of it having to adopt the Euro but is this as ridiculous a suggestion as it was in 2014 ?
A new target for independence supporters will be EU nationals who had voted No in 2014 believing this to be the best way to remain in the union. This position has now been turned on its head and independence is the only chance of staying in Europe. Therein lies the problem, without a guarantee from Europe that an independent Scotland would definitely get to stay in it is just a chance. This promise is not going to be forthcoming. While plenty of countries are sympathetic to Scotland’s position many are not. Spain is chief among them due to the Catalonian independence movement.
Those wanting to stay in the UK will also have to have a major rethink as their arguments have gradually collapsed one by one. The pound is now not an attractive currency and people are not so keen to do business in a country outside the EU. We were promised a no vote was the only way to remain in the EU. This will all have to be addressed.
Make no mistake independence is rightly back on the table but supporters must be careful as a quick referendum is likely to do more harm than good.