In Scotland, waiting for “the right moment to secede from the UK”

In Scotland, waiting for “the right moment to secede from the UK”

In Scotland, they again started talking loudly about secession from Great Britain. Actually, they never stopped talking about it there, but as the political crisis associated with Brexit developed, these conversations again turned into a practical plane — the leaders of the region put the issue of a repeated referendum on independence on the agenda. It is worth figuring out whether this is possible in the near future and whether the Scottish people want it.

Passion around the 2014 referendum is still in our memory. When London agreed to this idea, everyone was sure that it was unreliable. For example, in December 2013, the gap between supporters and opponents of the Scottish secession exceeded 20% — in favor of the opponents of the secession, of course.

It is on the basis of calming the elite polls that London reacted quite condescendingly to that referendum. However, just a couple of weeks before the date of the referendum (September 18, 2014), polls began to show stunning results for the British. The number of pro and con supporters actually leveled off, and according to some polls, there were even more supporters of the secession of Scotland.

Then in London began a natural panic. Launched a massive campaign of agitation among the Scots. The leaders of all the major parties in Britain will unite, sacredly promising the northern brethren significant preferences, including financial ones (which, by the way, was not fulfilled and which the current authorities do not like to recall). At the cost of considerable efforts in recent days, before the vote, the British authorities succeeded in tipping the scales to their side: 55% of Scots abandoned the idea of leaving the United Kingdom.

This referendum was nevertheless successfully used by local separatists — the Scottish National Party (SNP). For the first time in history, they won almost all constituencies in the national parliamentary elections, gaining 56 seats in the British parliament out of 59 possible (for comparison, in 40 previous years they never received more than six deputy seats).

In general, the leaders of the Scottish nationalists achieved their technological goals, extracted everything they wanted from the referendum, and calmed down on that. It seemed that the story of the independence of Scotland ended for a long time. The then Prime Minister of Britain, David Cameron, said that such a referendum can be held only once a generation, and perhaps all the time. And then I repeated several times that such a question, if it will be discussed, is definitely not with him. True, he did not yet know that he himself would soon become a victim of the Brexit referendum he had appointed.

Brexit changed, if not all, then a lot. Literally right after the referendum, all the polls showed a sharp jump in separatist sentiment in Scotland — the number of supporters of leaving the United Kingdom for the first time after 2015 exceeded the number of their opponents. However, it was a short surge of emotions, after a couple of months the mood of the Scots returned to their previous positions again, and by the early parliamentary elections in 2017, some polls showed that the opponents of the branch were 20% overweight. And, by the way, the SNP results in those elections were not as triumphant as they were two years before — they already received 35 mandates instead of 56.

But the idea that, in the event of a real withdrawal of Britain from the European Union, it would be necessary to raise the tough question of secession of Scotland, continued to be discussed in society. This was justified by the fact that in the 2016 referendum the overwhelming majority of Scots voted against withdrawal from the European Union.

There, by the way, was a curious story. In the Brexit referendum, 62% of the region’s residents voted against withdrawing from the EU. However, most of the polls, both before and after the referendum, showed that there are much more Europhiles in Scotland. The reason is that during the Brexit campaign, many supporters of the SNP, including «euro files”, unexpectedly called for a vote on Britain’s exit from the EU. It is in order to promote the growth of separatist sentiments in Scotland itself.

So, one of the most authoritative figures of the Scottish independence movement, Gordon Wilson (from 1979 to 1990, he was the permanent leader of the SNP) told Reuters that many Scottish nationalists, being EU supporters, were ready to vote in a referendum for secession from the European Union. He explained this by the fact that in this case Scotland would have more chances to gain independence. A poll by TNS, published nine days before the vote, even showed that 51% of SNP voters intended to stand for withdrawal from the EU.

Now the Scottish nationalists and enjoy the blatant political chaos that prevails in Britain around Brexit. SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon last week, immediately after the vote that failed for Theresa May in Westminster, said that her party was preparing a second referendum on the independence of Scotland. Few doubts that this will be announced immediately after the fate of Brexit is finally determined.

And this time, the Scottish separatists have a chance to realize their dream. We cannot yet say how the public sentiment shook immediately after the failure of the May Brexit plan — apparently, Strange also awaits the results of fresh polls. However, the most recent survey among Scots, conducted in December, recorded an increase in separatist sentiment: the difference between opponents and supporters of the Scottish secession was reduced to six percent (45% for, 51% against). At the same time, 59% of Scots (from among those who decided) said then that they prefer independence of the region from Great Britain in the event that London fails the negotiations and brings the matter to the country's withdrawal from the European Union «without a deal”.

There is no doubt that as the political crisis in London develops, the growth of separatist sentiment in Scotland will be fueled. However, while the leaders of the separatists are waiting for the right moment. «We must hold a second referendum when we can win it,” explains one of the veterans and leaders of the SNP, a member of the British parliament, Pete Wis hart. And now London is actively bringing this moment closer with its everyday crises.
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