In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is continuing her push for an independence referendum.
This has come after the Green Party and the SNP have solidified their partnership, meaning the Scottish Parliament has a strong independence majority.
The First Minister has set out a plan and timeline for the vote, as well as many good reasons to allow Scotland to hold this referendum and leave the United Kingdom.
She pointed out the implications of Brexit in her speech too, noting that the vote pulled Scotland out of the EU against its will. Sturgeon also said that the decision to implement a hard Brexit in the middle of the pandemic hampered many Scottish industries, particularly fishing, which the Prime Minister promised wouldn’t be affected.
She has also said, sensibly, that she won’t push for a vote and campaign until data shows that Covid is under control in Scotland, something the SNP has agreed to. This means that a referendum could theoretically take place around 2023-24.
Of course, the English are contesting this in the most English way possible. By that, I mean by being unbearably condescending.
If anything, Boris Johnson and his government are the perfect gifts to the independence campaign. From their policy that would criminalise asylum seekers, food shortages due to Brexit and the shambolic handling of the pandemic. Nicola Sturgeon just needs to indicate vaguely in the direction of the Tory party when asked why Scotland should leave the union.
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Westminster would reject any independence legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament. That isn’t a surprise. Scottish Secretary Alister Jack has said that a referendum could be allowed if opinion polls showing a consistent 60% level of support for another vote.
Though, knowing this government, even if this happened, they would pretend it didn’t.
Moreover, to reject it may make the Tories look like hypocrites and actually fuel the independence sentiment in Scotland.
The Vote Leave campaign, led by members of the current Conservative government, was all about “taking back control” and allowing us to make our own decisions.
The election of a pro-independence majority in Scotland indicates that there is an appetite for another referendum, and possibly independence. Why shouldn’t Scotland take control of its affairs?
It is clear why Westminster will not grant Scotland another referendum. They fear this is the one they will lose. And if they lose this one, they may lose more.
In Northern Ireland, Sinn Féin, who have long advocated for separation from the UK and to re-unite with the Irish republic, have shown to be leading in multiple polls.
According to an Observer poll, two-thirds of voters in Northern Ireland want a referendum on whether or not to stay in the UK.
The fight for the United Kingdom seems to be the Conservatives’ to lose, and they seem to be stuck in their ways when it comes to dealing with other countries in the union.
Allowing the Scots another referendum demonstrates respect for them as a country and as an equal partner in the union, as the Prime Minister loves to claim. Boris Johnson’s refusal would have long-term consequences for the rest of the UK as it would imply the only voices he cares about are those of the English.
To ignore or refuse this doesn’t make the issue of independence go away, it in fact turns it into more of a fight. And I don’t think the English are prepared for the fight that follows.