The Question of Scottish Independence: The Next Brexit?

Kiara McGaughey
Staff Writer

On October 9, First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon said she wants to hold a referendum in October of next year for Scottish Independence. The United Kingdom government has not agreed, but the UK’s Supreme Court will hear arguments on Tuesday on the legality of Scotland’s administration voting for independence without the government’s consent. Sturgeon states that if she loses the case, she will make a de facto plebiscite on Scotland gaining independence, according to Associated Press. Scotland, England, and the majority-English UK government have a long history of rejecting Scottish independence and repressing Scots in the country, but it seems with recent events such as Brexit, a free Scotland may be more favorable to those who live there. 

Scotland has been a part of the United Kingdom for three centuries, though those three centuries were far from peaceful, rather mired in oppression, invasion, violence, and an Anglo-centric rule. In fact, there’s even reason to suspect that Scotland’s “Union” with the United Kingdom was less autonomous than believed today. Scotland united with England in 1707 as the Kingdom dealt with severe financial struggles and a dislike for the way the Union of Crowns governed Scots. Experts also say that the formation of Great Britain came from short-term pressures instead of a want for a lasting Union, The Smithsonian Magazine explains. 

Prior to its union, Scotland had its own very clear sense of national identity and culture that were very different from England’s. To this day, Scots often speak Scottish-Gaelic and have their own dialects of English. Scotland also fought against England multiple times as England began to treat Scotland like a feudal territory and massacred those fighting for independence against the invaders, continues the Smithsonian Magazine. Scotland also had very few representatives in the newly formed Great Britain and most Scots believed their representatives were sold out by the English the Smithsonian Magazine continues. 

While Scots were given more of a voice in the British Government, the government in London does not have the interest of Scots at heart. Most notable is the UK vote in favor of Brexit. Most Scots voted against leaving the European Union, according to BBC News. Scotland also benefitted from trade with the EU and the updated infrastructure it brought, reports The Guardian. To many, this confirms that the UK government does not have Scotland’s interests at heart, and thus, remaining within the UK for economic reasons would be counterintuitive, according to a publication by the Scottish Government

Scotland had also been dissuaded from leaving the UK because they believed the UK would stay in the EU, the Guardian continues. Despite some economic challenges Scotland would endure if they were to leave, such as theorized devaluation and high interest rates, The Guardian explains, Scots’ dissatisfaction with the UK and their lack of representation in the government seems more pressing. The Scottish Government also explains through its report that many similarly sized countries to Scotland often outperform the UK in its current state. The question then becomes whether the UK’s economic systems and systems of government are hindering Scotland and limiting its autonomy, or aiding it. 

Scotland’s Independence is a much-debated topic in Scotland, the UK, and abroad. No matter the situation, however, Scots deserve full say over their independence and how they want to be governed. The Anglo-centric government of the UK does not benefit Scotland and the other territories within the UK, and either it should be restructured or Scotland should be free to vote and leave the UK. Given the UK’s past and continued treatment of those in territories that may want to leave the UK, however, the international community should aid Scotland in its quest for self-determination. Countries such as the Republic of Ireland have also left the UK and have succeeded well as an independent state. Thus, Scotland may be able to succeed as an independent state, but only if given the autonomy to do so.

Image courtesy of Billy Wilson, Flickr

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