In 2014, the people of Scotland were offered the chance to leave the United Kingdom and become and independent country. The ‘Better Together’ campaign promised voters a ‘faster, better and safer’ Scotland and warned that leaving the UK compromised Scotland’s place in the EU.
The people of Scotland chose to remain a part of the UK, with 56% marking ‘No’ on the ballot card that asked ‘Should Scotland be an Independent Country?’
Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp, an author for pro-independence website Business for Scotland, believes that the threat of expulsion from the EU was a significant factor in securing the No vote.
“David Cameron claimed that the only way to protect Scotland’s EU membership was to reject independence. ‘No’ campaign spokespeople parroted the phrase: ‘EU membership is only guaranteed with a No vote’.” Mr MacIntyre-Kemp wrote.
In June of 2016, another referendum took place. This one to decide the fate of the UK’s place in the European Union. The people of the United Kingdom chose to withdraw from the EU. However, every constituency in Scotland voted to remain a part of the EU.
Below are the ten electoral constituencies in Scotland with the highest percentage of voters who said ‘No’ to Scotland becoming and independent country. Alongside this data is the percentage of voters in these constituencies who voted to remain in the European Union.
In a speech at Bute House given in March, First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon called on Theresa May to grant Scotland significant new powers and special access to the single market or to face the prospect of a second independence referendum within the next two years.
“I will now take the steps necessary to make sure Scotland will have a choice at the end of this process. A choice to follow the UK to a hard Brexit, or to become an independent country.” Ms Sturgeon said.in
She argued that a second referendum was justified as the Scottish National Party’s mandate stated that ‘the Scottish parliament should have the right to hold another referendum if there is a significant and material change in the circumstances that prevailed in 2014, such as Scotland being taken out of the EU against our will.’
However, after Theresa May called a general election for June 2017, Sturgeon’s priority has been campaigning for the SNP and the issue of independence has been placed on the sidelines for the time being.
In the SNP’s general election manifesto, it appeared that Sturgeon had dropped the claims made in March about a second referendum being held between 2018 and 2019.
The document stated ‘…At the end of the Brexit process, when the final terms of the deal are known, it is right that Scotland should have a choice about our future.’
The question that remains is: How do voters in Scotland feel about independence post-Brexit?
The latest polls indicate that support for independence has dropped since the initial referendum took place.
Susan Bell from Perth voted against Scottish independence, however, she feels as though her mind has been changed since the Brexit result.
“I voted ‘No’ to independence because of the uncertainty surrounding it. Neither campaign could give us an exact answer about what independence would really mean for Scotland. I thought it would be better to stick with what we know, Ms Bell said.
I think if we were to have another independence referendum I’d probably vote ‘Yes’. The people of Scotland have spoken and we don’t want Brexit but our voices are being ignored.”
However, Claire Caroll from Aberdeen voted ‘No’ and still feels as though she made the right decision.
“We voted ‘No’ and that’s that. The decision has been made. I voted to remain a part of the EU and I was disappointed with the result of Brexit but another independence referendum is a waste of time, Ms Caroll said.
I would vote ‘No’ if the referendum was held tomorrow. I just don’t feel as though Scotland is strong enough to support itself and the result of Brexit wasn’t enough to change my mind on the issue”
Brexit negotiations could take as long as until 2022 to be complete, meaning if a second referendum were to take place then, there could be enough time for a significant shift in public opinion.
Polls indicated that there was a strong divide amongst voters of different demographics. A survey of 5000 Scots taken shortly after the referendum day indicated that voters aged between 25 and 40 were in the group most likely to have voted ‘Yes’.
It is clear that if Sturgeon wants the proposed second referendum to be successful, she will have to win over voters aged over fifty as well as younger voters.
For the time being, the future for Scotland remains unclear. The outcome of Brexit negotiations will likely have a significant effect on the fight for independence.