In 2014, Scotland voted to remain with England, Wales, and Northern Ireland in the United Kingdom. Less than two years later came the Brexit vote about leaving the European Union. With a “yes” for Brexit, the countries of the United Kingdom voted to leave. However, most Scots voted “no.” Simply put: Scotland is being dragged unwillingly toward Brexit.
Brexit is supposed to take effect on October 31. Ideally, the United Kingdom (UK) would leave the EU with a well-thought agreement covering the many trade and legal issues such a move would raise. But the EU’s unhappiness with Brexit and legal wrangling in London are pushing the (UK) ever closer to a no-deal departure. (Read “Brexit Pets.”) The problems are so keenly felt in Scotland that Scottish independence is again being discussed.
Backers of Scottish independence are clamoring for another vote. They want Scotland to strike out on its own—and perhaps even rejoin the EU. Even some who voted against Scottish independence from the UK are having second thoughts.
Chris Deerin runs a Reform Scotland think tank (group of experts). He was a firm “No” in 2014. He wanted Scotland to remain in the UK. Deerin described breaking with Britain as “utterly bizarre” and “almost unthinkable” in his political essays at the time.
As Brexit looms, Deerin’s tune is changing. “It’s definitely not unthinkable,” he now says, adding that Brexit “has set Scotland against England.”
But Scots wanting a second shot at independence won’t automatically get one. The UK government has ruled out the possibility many times. And British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s tough tactics suggest to some Scots that Johnson is unlikely to yield. His critics have likened him to a dictator.
“The Scottish people did not vote for Brexit. The people of Scotland did not vote for a no-deal Brexit,” says pro-EU lawmaker Ian Blackford.
Meanwhile, some Scots are gearing up for a renewed independence push. “I’m very optimistic that Scotland will be an independent country,” businessperson Dale McQueen says. “I hope and pray for that. I think it [Brexit] has been helpful to the independent cause, simply because we’re having something imposed on the country.”