15 March 2017
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon made a bold announcement this week, but may find her wishes frustrated.
Remoaner Nicola Sturgeon has attempted to slow the Brexit process with the wild threat of a second referendum on Scottish independence despite losing the initial bid in a supposedly “once in a lifetime” ballot fewer than three years ago. As parliament prepared to authorise Article 50 notice on Monday, Sturgeon spoke before the press to siphon off attention and demand a second vote.
Sturgeon used her major Bute House speech to lay out her reasoning for a second vote, ignoring the one million forgotten Scots who backed Brexit in June and claiming that a second independence bid was necessary due to her country’s support for EU membership.
She lashed out at the government for vowing to pull the UK out of the failing European single market – an institution that would deny Britain the right to control her borders and thus prevent the government from delivering the main upside of Brexit according to large swathes of voters. According to Ashcroft polling, even SNP supporters back rational border controls over continued membership of the single market.
But a recent poll of Scottish voters spells bad news for Mrs Sturgeon as voters north of Hadrian’s Wall increasingly back continued membership of the United Kingdom while expressing grave doubts about the mad European projects – concerns that join them to the majority of voters across England and Wales and suggests a less severe divide in values than that counted on by the Scottish National Party.
A whopping 57 percent of Scottish voters continue to back a ‘No’ vote, up even from the 2014 victory for the UK in the first independence referendum – when the vote was split 45-55. Support for independence in general has reached a record high of 46 percent according to the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey, although clearly even motivated supporters see the pragmatic downside and they continue to be outweighed by the coalition of voters supporting the devolution settlement or the abolition of the Scottish Parliament.
The Scottish Social Attitudes Survey also exposed rising Euroscepticism in the nation with a quarter of Scots demanding EU withdrawal and another 42% wanting power clawed back from meddling Brussels. That makes a clear Eurosceptic majority in the country despite Sturgeon basing her pitch on a rampant Europhilia akin to her own.
A failed bid
Even among the political elite Sturgeon’s gambit has thus far been unsuccessful, with Downing Street brushing off the suggestion and European leaders making a mockery of Sturgeon’s claims for continued membership of the EU.
Theresa May was quick to respond and she looks set to deny the call for a second ballot while Article 50 Brexit negotiations are ongoing. She pointed out that “another referendum would be divisive and cause huge economic uncertainty at the worst possible time” while explaining that “the evidence clearly shows that a majority of people in Scotland do not want a second independence referendum”.
European leaders were also quick to set the record straight, with Spain in particular being put on the defensive as Scottish separatism raises fears about the movement for Catalan independence. The response from the EU clarified that “Scotland has no power to negotiate with the EU” and that “an independent Scotland would have to apply for EU membership from outside”.
Even the leader of the NATO military alliance has warned that an independent Scotland would crash out of the pact, requiring it to reapply for membership and seek ratification from the 28 current members.
Sturgeon’s ill-considered move appears to have been a complete flop, although never doubt her willingness to constantly embarrass herself in pursuit of her political ambitions.