“Freedom”, the archetypal word most people would jokingly exclaim when they meet a Scotsman in a bar, sports match or other occasion.
However, it seems this freedom is not likely to come anytime soon, as much as first minster Nicola Sturgeon wants it to. This is because she is chasing another referendum on Scottish independence if, along with her trio of Brexit ministers, including Boris Johnson, prime minister May delivers a hard Brexit. A hard Brexit means that the UK would not be in the European Union single market and customs union, and therefore would incur tariffs when trading with the EU.
Nevertheless, Sturgeon’s new proposal of another referendum looks like a pushy child asking her stubborn father for a second toy, when she has already broken the first. There are numerous problems with another independence referendum for Scotland, and for the UK in general.
First, the nationalists’ Yes campaign lost the first one in 2014 with a resounding win for No of 54 per cent, and 46 per cent to Yes. To any normal person, that is a definitive win for staying in the UK. But, for the eternal nationalists, they just wanted a win whatever the circumstances, and getting out of the EU was the ‘material change’ Sturgeon saw as another chance for one.
However, she forgets that the 2014 referendum was seen as, even from the Yes side, a ‘once in a lifetime’ and ‘once in a generation’ referendum to decide on Scotland’s future. However, there hasn’t been a lifetime: there have been the grand total of two years between the loss of the first referendum and the proposal for another one. For the already tired general public of Scotland, given all the recent elections and referendums, this is one step too far, in my opinion. It is contradictory of her to demand and assert that just because Scotland went against the majority referendum result in the EU referendum she should get a second referendum on Scottish independence. After all Scotland is still part of the UK.
In the wake of the uncertainty created in the government and the economy by the Brexiters, there is a need for certainty and stability in the UK. A divisive and bad-tempered Scottish referendum is not needed after the shock of David Cameron leaving office and a whole new government being formed.
In addition, Scotland’s SNP government is losing its control, as in the recent elections it lost its majority in Holyrood, the Scottish Parliament. This is behind its desire to reassert its core message of the everlasting need for independence in order to sustain support and further consolidate power in Scotland. With a resurgent Scottish Conservative party, led by the charismatic Ruth Davidson, there has been increased pressure on the SNP government. Ultimately this pressure has led to another referendum bill to get the SNP back on track and reiterating their core message to the electorate.
Other such problems include the depletion of North Sea oil and companies running out of Aberdeen like Usain Bolt, to newer, more fruitful oil fields. It has led to the prospect of Scottish independence, with an already high deficit, look like a bad nightmare for many Scotsmen.