The Scottish National Party for Independence (SNP) previously promised to hold a new referendum on the question of Scottish independence if it obtained an absolute majority in the Scottish Parliament. In view of the final results over the weekend SNP 64 seats He obtained it in the 129-member Scottish Parliament. Although an absolute majority could not be reached in the absence of one representative, it held 8 seats Besides the Greens, the Scottish pro-independence parties remain in the majority.
Thus these votes would be enough to pass a bill aimed at a possible independence referendum.
Nicola Sturgeon, the re-elected Scottish Prime Minister in the colors of the Scottish National Party, has already pointed it out. The relevant bill could be presented to the Scottish Parliament next springAs the country has recovered from the coronavirus epidemic. By the way, the referendum itself is scheduled to take place in the first half of its cycle, at the end of 2023, according to the SNP.
a Reuters Based on our group, we looked at opportunities for a future referendum in Scotland to secede from the United Kingdom.
What does a successful referendum mean?
If the Scots were to support independence, that would mean a The biggest blow to the United Kingdom since Ireland’s independence a hundred years ago. In addition to maintaining its unity, the UK should also focus on the consequences of the Coronavirus pandemic and Brexit, which the Scots have clearly rejected in the future.
Certainly, the independence of Scotland It would lead to the dissolution of a union in effect since 1707 between the two countries, Although England and Scotland have had a common ruler since 1603. In addition to a common historical past, we must not forget that. The nations of the United Kingdom collectively make up US $ 3 trillion that would definitely be negatively affected by the rupture.
How could a breakup happen?
Under the Scottish Decentralization Act (Scotland Act 1998), which also established the Scottish Parliament and transferred a number of powers to it from the London-based British Parliament, All matters affecting the union of the Kingdoms of Scotland and England fall within the exclusive jurisdiction of the British Parliament.
According to the provisions of the aforementioned Act, a referendum on independence could theoretically be held, but this also requires the approval of the British Parliament.
The 2014 referendum was conducted along the same lines, in which the majority of Scots, 55-45%, ultimately decided to stay.
According to the British government, under the Scottish Decentralization Act It is clear that London has the right to decide whether or not the Scots can hold a referendum on independence. However, according to the Scottish leadership, if the British Parliament banned the referendum, it would ignore the democratic will of the Scottish people.
Will London approve the referendum?
The UK government’s position on the issue is very clear, arguing that both Nicola Sturgeon and his predecessor, Alex Salmond, had personally promised before the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence that this referendum would continue for an entire generation. Accordingly, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson rejected Sturgeon’s request, Considering that the referendum in its current form would be an “irresponsible and ill-considered” step.
However, the Scottish election results appear to have had an impact on the British leadership.
Johnson sent his congratulations on his election victory Called him Scottish Prime Minister for the summitThey will discuss the country’s challenges with the rest of the UK and search for a common solution. In the letter, Johnson spoke clearly in favor of the British unit, stressing the success of the joint purchase of the vaccine, and stressing the need for cooperation between countries to recover from the epidemic.
However, according to the Scottish National Party and the Greens, the British government has no legal basis, either democratically or morally, to torpedo the referendum initiative. The Scottish leadership also made it clear that regardless of the London government’s decision, a draft referendum would be submitted which the British government could challenge in court. According to Sturgeon, if the British government does not attack the initiative, it will acknowledge its validity.
What will be the end of the lawsuit?
Before every Scottish bill enters into force, it is possible for it to determine in court whether the bill in question exceeds the powers of the Scottish Parliament as set out in the Decentralization Act. It is up to the UK High Court to decide.
Certainly, the British government, which opposes the plan for the referendum on independence in its current form, will use this tool.
However, opinions are already divided on the outcome of the lawsuit. According to David Hope, who also served as Vice President of the Supreme Court at the same time According to the wording and provisions of the decentralization law, such an initiative would be difficult to accept. However, others believe that there are a number of arguments in favor of a referendum that does not violate the independence of the Scottish Parliament. The latter opinion is shared, for example, by Eileen McCarg, professor of constitutional law at Durham University.
What happens if the court also rejects the proposal?
The question that arises, rightly, what would happen if the Supreme Court rejected the referendum initiative. Many in the SNP believe that an indicative referendum should be held in this case as well.. However, others believe that such a vote would not only be legally questionable, but could easily be boycotted by anti-independence groups, thus undermining its credibility.
If the referendum were held without a legal framework, it could easily lead to a constitutional crisis, as we saw in the Catalan independence referendum of 2017, when the international public did not recognize the validity of the vote either.
Sturgeon himself stressed that he would not support a semi-illegal referendum in such a format
What do the Scots think about independence?
a YouGov According to the latest measurement so far If not with a compelling advantage, but there is currently a majority of Scots who would vote to remain in the UK In a possible referendum. Since the difference between the two camps is only 6%, the outcome of the referendum cannot be predicted.
Although in theory one could start from the results of the 2014 referendum, Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic have drastically redrawn preferences. The aforementioned analogy, for example, did not take into account the insecure camp that could decide to hold a referendum. Many may have convinced Brexit with the cause of independence, while others believe that Scotland will not be economically strong enough to thrive as an independent country, especially in light of the fact that London School of Economics report According to 2017, 67% of Scottish imports came from the United Kingdom, while 61% of Scottish exports went to the United Kingdom, showing a great interdependence.
Nor could the Scottish National Party accidentally decide to wait for the referendum until at least 2023This gives them the opportunity to sort out the legal hurdles and gather supporters by then, which can increase their chances of a successful referendum. By keeping the issue on the agenda for a few more years, it is possible that they could achieve a better negotiating position with the British government in a more favorable political situation.
Cover photo source: Jane Barlow / PA Images via Getty Images