Second wind for Scottish independence

When in 2014 the majority of Scots voted to stay in the UK, it seemed that the supporters of Scotland's independence failed, and their recover will not be soon. However, after the decision on Brexit the situation changed dramatically. Already at the beginning of next week, the head of the Scottish government Nicola Sturgeon, who is a very virtuosic politician, even according to her political opponents, will initiate the first steps for holding a new independence referendum, the outcome of which is absolutely unpredictable at the moment. But will Scotland be able to become an economically and politically successful state outside the United Kingdom?

According to a lecturer in Economic History at the University of York, Matthias Morys, most of Scotland's foreign trade is in the rest of the UK, however, it will not decline completely if the country is separated from the kingdom. "I believe that in the debate about Scottish independence from an economic point of view, much depends on the oil price in the future. All British oil is concentrated on the Scottish shore. This means that only Scotland will receive the profit from it in the future, not the whole of Great Britain. And if look at the 2014 analyzes closely, it becomes clear that various forecasts about the future oil price were the basis for deciding whether Scotland's independence was economically viable. And, of course, we cannot know how the oil price will develop in the future," Morys told the DLF.

At the same time, according to Morys, now the economic factor is not so clearly discussed in the context of the Scottish referendum. To a much greater extent, the debate takes place around the question of whether the Scottish National Party will be able to gain sufficient dynamics so that the outcome of the second referendum will be excellent for the first.

"The central point is the fact that the EU has much more positive attitude towards Scottish independence than it had three years ago. Then the European officials declared that it was necessary to wait that, in theory, they could not immediately take Scotland into their ranks as an independent country. Now this position has changed by 180 degrees: the European Commission said a few months ago that the Scots deserved to be heard in the matter of their independence. And, of course, now Scotland has become for Brussels a map for negotiations with Britain," the expert stressed.

Morys drew attention to two extremely important points. "First, it is not yet clear who will campaign against Scottish independence. The "better together" campaign, which was organized in 2014, and the coalition that conducted it, can hardly be restored. Laborites and conservatives in Scotland are extremely disunited.

The Scottish National Party also has a number of small levers. For example: who can take part in a referendum? Efforts will be made to ensure that foreigners from EU countries also had the right to vote, like in 2014, and this time all of them, of course, will vote for the independence of Scotland, because for them independence from Britain automatically means the preservation of the country in the EU," Dr. Matthias Morys believes.

Will the supporters of Brexit pay for their decision by the actual disintegration of Great Britain? After all, ironically, many of those who voted for the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU are inveterate Unionists, prone to dream of restoring the former greatness of the Empire. For Prime Minister Theresa May, the new Scottish referendum will be a good incentive not to go on a hard break with the EU, thereby minimizing the impact of Brexit on the decision of the Scots.

At the same time, supporters of Scottish independence are also in a rather vulnerable position. First, the emerging trends in the oil market do not allow to seriously rely on oil production, as a strong economic argument. Second, after voting for the UK exit from the EU, despite the forecasts of many analysts, the British economy has continued to show steady growth. And, finally, one cannot discount the centrifugal force factor in the EU itself. The outcome of the upcoming elections in the Netherlands and, more importantly, in France, can have a decisive influence on the preservation of the attractiveness of the European Union for the Scots. Because, in the case of Marin Le Pen's victory in the elections, many people in Scotland will inevitably think about whether the exit from the UK is a ticket to the sinking ship of Europe.


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