Brexit fuels rising independence sentiment in Scotland

In Glasgow City Hall, the UK’s third largest city, only the Scottish flag flies. Most of its inhabitants voted for independence in 2014. It was not achieved then but the latest polls suggest that many Scots are now betting on being independent.

“All of a sudden we find ourselves being dragged out of Europe against our will,” says Iain Johnson, a citizen who voted to stay in the UK.

Brexit has changed the way of thinking of many Scottish citizens.

“All my life I thought that staying in the UK had been positive for me but I think it is not now. As a nation, we are very different. Many people from my family circle and from my circle of friends, who voted in favor of permanence has also changed his mind. So I really think this is unstoppable, “adds Iain Johnson.

A key aspect of the 2014 campaign was whether an independent Scotland could join the EU. Now, the United Kingdom does not contemplate it. The coronavirus has helped change the mood. Many think that the Scottish authorities have handled it better than the rest of the British. In new opinion polls, the majority advocate leaving the UK.

“This is the first time in Scottish polling history that support for independence has consistently exceeded 50%,” says John Curtice, Professor of Political Science at the University of Strathclyde.

“But it is necessary to see if it will persist”, questions the correspondent of Euronews, Tadhg Enright, to the professor Curtice.

“There is the issue of Brexit on the one hand and the issue of the coronavirus on the other. If the Scottish authorities at some point in the next few months are no longer as highly regarded for their handling of the pandemic as they are now, then perhaps the support for independence goes down, “concludes John Curtice.

Nationalists consider the 2014 vote to be a once-in-a-lifetime event. But Brexit, they say, has changed that. If a good settlement is reached, the case may lose steam.

“We must not forget the cultural impact of Scottish voters who see a movement dominated by English nationalism, making decisions for them, and the new style of populist conservatism that is in power in London,” notes the Euronews UK correspondent. Kingdom, Tadhg Enright.

“Two years later, Brexit was a material change in circumstances and I agree with the nationalists on that. Now we have to focus on an argument. Those of us who believe in the UK have to see how it can change for the better. We need some new ideas, “says Iain Anderson, a citizen who campaigned for staying in the UK.

Only the government of Boris Johnson can allow another referendum and, for now, is resisting. But next year, Scotland will elect its new political authorities. If the polls are correct, and the Nationalists win, it will be difficult for London to keep saying ‘no’ to the referendum.