So it’s all over for the United Kingdom.

Scotland, overwhelmingly, and Northern Ireland by a smaller margin have voted to stay in Europe while England and Wales have voted decisively to leave. Whatever happens in Northern Ireland, Scotland must now hold a second referendum. The Scottish Government said before the referendum that it would only hold a second independence vote when the polls showed a significant lead for the independence camp. It needed to turn 45% into something more like 60%. Next week’s polls will show that and more, as well over the quarter of the 55% will choose the EU over the UK, while none of the 45% will switch the other way.

Alex Salmond has already suggested that the fresh referendum must take place within 30 months. He’s wrong in his uncharacteristic caution, though. It’ll have to take place much sooner than that. There’s a likelihood that the new Tory leader will call a UK general election, then assuming he (or, in theory, she) wins a handsome majority – which he or she will – there’ll be another 2 years or so of Brexit negotiations. It would be literally senseless for Scotland to be part of the UK for those negotiations, only to leave immediately after and alter fundamentally the agreements just made on behalf of the UK. This would require the EU to start all over again, negotiating with England/Wales and Scotland (and Northern Ireland or even a united Ireland) over yet new terms. Moreover, the new England/Wales construct would require yet another general election because it would be an entirely new political construct. Even if Labour won an election with the help of the SNP, the same negotiations and subsequent elections would have to take place.

So providing the polls next week do show over 60% in Scotland for independence, Nicola Sturgeon will have little choice but to press on with an early referendum. The dying UK government will not be in any position, morally or politically, to prevent it. Few Brexiteer Tories will seek to stop the Scots leaving; they’ll be too buy having a ball with their own arrangements.

There will have to be new Scottish elections after independence, of course. We can expect the SNP to continue to dominate an independent Scotland for some years, although Scotland will be a healthy democracy and a real opposition will emerge since nature abhors a vacuum. That opposition could even be the Scottish Labour Party one day, if it plays its cards right. For now, there’s only one card for Scottish Labour to play. It must support Scottish independence in Europe. This will be the acid test. If it does not it will die altogether and will deserve to.

I have a feeling that Scottish house prices are about to go up. And the incomers will be voting FOR independence this time.




33 Responses to Scotland needs a fresh referendum, then independence, fast
  1. Eric, I was glad to read your thoughts and found them through ‘wings’. I was a Labour supporter, then no supporter then in 2014 a yes voter. You are insightful in your analysis, like a John curative but without the figures maze, I thank you for the blog and the additional detail you provide. One thing to ponder… any mileage in Gibraltar, scotland, Ulster in an eu/uk compromise? (Also… stand for Holyrood, Eric!)

    • Thanks for this, Darren. Very kind. I see that Charlie Falconer has put an idea together which sees those parts stay in the EU while England/Wales leaves, but that’s really just a pitch for extra time to consider things, I think. The EU is a union of sovereign states. The politics of it seem to me to lead folk in NI to get Irish passports rather than DUP supporters to suddenly embrace union with the South (!). Demographics might change that over time. Gib’s in a funny old place. If the Spanish made some attractive overtures? Well, you never know. They’re genuinely torn more than most by the profound distinction of interests now between heart (with UK) and head (bonkers for them not to be in Europe).

      As for Scotland, Labour will stall for time (see Charlie) but it’ll have to support a new referendum well before the UK’s likely general election. It won’t, I think, commit to independence yet. The trouble for Labour in Scotland is that the SNP has bagged the social democratic middle ground – exactly the ground Blair won all those times from. So Labour, in an independent context, will likely end up looking for the smallish vote that’s available on the much further left. Nevertheless, I think they’ll do it – because if they fight independence now and lose they’ll be literally finished (regardless of what happens in England).

      I’ve left politics well and truly behind, yet these times are so astonishing that I really want to help Scotland get to an independent place where folk can once again have a coherent choice about the direction of their country. I can see that if Labour supports independence then this will guarantee a Yes vote and people can start talking about the future of Scotland properly. England seems destined for years of right wing politics outside Europe fuelled by people who think Nigel Farage is the font of wisdom. That seems a shame, but Scots need to cut that nonsense loose now.

  2. Guys I am very lucky I have dual nationality. I do not think Scotland will be any better off in the arms of the EU. As for slashing expenditure seriously lets just carry on spending more than we bring in is that really your solution? I would love to see how we can balance the books. Raise taxes no I hear you cry. Raise VAT no again. Cut defense spending then? Maybe not. NHS – no. Oh lets go for the hit the rich then that always works. So give me another solution other than cutting something. Breaking up the union it might happen and it might be the best long term but now I think the SNP deep down knows that Scotland could not survive with oil at the low it is. I hope to live well beyond 90 sorry!

    • What are your nationalities, Colin? I don’t mean that aggressively, it’s just that a fact that unless Scotland becomes independent now, Scots will lose their European citizenship and potentially many of the vital protections that implies. The same Tories who have been arguing for ‘Leave’ were, even before their campaign began, arguing for the UK to secede from the ECHR – seriously! What do you think they will do now that they are about to run the UK as it leaves the EU altogether? I’m interested in the fact you have dual nationality – I think it might be relevant to your perspective. In Northern Ireland, for example, everyone can have an Irish passport. The obvious trickinesses which apply there mean, it seems to me, that it’s unlikely they’ll go for a full union with the Republic of Ireland, for now at least. So in the meantime, i think there’ll be a huge upswing in the numbers applying for dual nationality there. That’ll give them, and you (?), freedom of movement, employment and education in Europe; and also all the protections (like the ECHR) of being an EU citizen. Of course those things won’t apply while they are physically in the North, but they will apply to them personally. It’s a thing….

    • Eric,

      I have British and Australian nationalities. Maybe it does alter my thinking not sure. I still think Scotland is stronger in the union than out. As it stands I will probably leave the UK at some point and live in Australia. I have to say though that if the UK breaks up what does the future hold for this great island? Also do you really think Scotland can stand on it’s own two feet?

  3. Hi Eric, saw your article on Wings Over Scotland. What a breath of fresh air. Agree with all that you write. My friend you’ve a fair eye to the future of Scotland and how to get there. For what it’s worth, you should stand for Holyrood. One last point in tune with earlier comments: For 18 months I’ve been trying to persuade a no voting friend to vote yes with no luck. 24 hours after Brexit he phones me up to say he is definitely voting yes at Indyref2. Do you reckon this vote migration from no to yes might be a big thing in the weeks to come?

    • Thanks for this, Calum. Yep, I think your friend is part of a much larger trend. The situ is entirely different now. It’s independent social democratic Scotland in Europe or go with a presently rather nutty, right-wing-gripped England into a weird island-state with no mates.

  4. I’ll forebear commenting on the previous post for what I’m sure you’ll appreciate are fairly obvious op. To your piece Eric, I must say I agree with virtually all of what you say and find it refreshing that a Labour face is so adroitly adjusting to the new political realities opened up by this disaster of a referendum. As you allude to I feel Labour in Scotland has to some degree or other move to the indie side, lest it becomes an irrelevance. How confident are you that given the excessively tribal nature of Scottish Labour , that such a radical move will be forthcoming?

    • Thanks, Mark. A lot of regular traditional Labour voters will move over, I think. It really makes little sense not to now and they’ll largely follow commonsense. It’s not a shoo in, yet, which is why there’ll be angst at the top of the Scottish government. But I think it’s essential to make the change before the UK exits, or otherwise we’ll be caught in the morass which is Spain, France, Belgium, Italy et al fighting off their own internal independence movements.

  5. Update ,although I am sure like the rest of us you heard Kezza rule out a Indy Ref2 ,talk about turkeys voting for Xmas.

    • Yeah, you know i hadn’t seen that when I wrote. It’s actually mad – it doesn’t make any kind of narrative sense. What are they saying – ‘we told you to vote Yes to stay in Europe but never mind, and btw we’re throwing out lot in with what most people in England (because there’s a LOT of regret flying around) is a dire extraction from Europe? It’s just depressing, but hopefully they’ll influence less and less people.

  6. Hi Eric

    Agree with almost all of this. The sooner the better, the Tories have shown that a referendum can be announced, done and dusted within a year.

    I know this sounds all very anecdotal and dubious but I had two of my NO voting mates text me unsolicited by 7:30 saying they were now pro-indy. I arrived in my educated, cosmopolitan, middle class work containing may NO voters and they were somewhere between sheepish and aghast. F*ck me, JK Rowling is wavering.

    Indy is a shoe in. And it needs to be held against a backdrop of right-wing England tearing itself apart. We’ll do it on the blindside.

    On thing I do disagree with – your inference that rising house prices is a good thing. No, we need to fight against the easy option to become a mini London and all the perks and inequalities that brings. Because it will be possible and tempting.

    • Thanks for this, Davie. I think you’re right – it’s v interesting that you’ve met a couple of folk moving to the indy side from No. I think that’ll be widespread. Btw, I was being V tongue in cheek re: house prices. I totally agree that one of the great strengths of Scotland is that it’s affordable to buy a house in most cases – I really hope that doesn’t change. As it happens, though, like you a think there will be some very interesting new prospects for Scotland in Europe with England outside. e

  7. Eric – interesting and well-considered piece. Scottish Labour undoubtedly crucial, as you identity. What sense do you get of how Kezia (and co) will position themselves?

    • Thanks, Nick. If they can be grown up about it, they’ll support independence quite quickly now. They’ll try to go to the SNP’s left in a subsequent general election so they’ll be crushed; but they’ll survive to fight another day. If they stay against independence now they won’t be a force at all for the first general election under independence.

  8. I hope the polls prove you right Eric although I don’t hold out much hope.

    Scotland must get out of this Union, however, initially within the EU (Some may want to change that later; I would be for the EU)

    There is no doubt that there has now been a ‘significant & material change’ despite what the likes of Nicky Morgan says.

    • Best to ignore anything any Tory says now. Many Scots voted NO explicitly to stay in Europe. Tory claims that the whole thing is in retrospect still legitimate are literally nauseating.

  9. Excellent article Eric and i agree with the sentiment, today Nicola i thought was magnificent and has laid out the path to Independence.
    I think she is right to exhaust all other avenues to avoid what we know will be a huge right wing Media backlash and Project Fear Mk.111.
    Westminster never learns and will rebuff all entreaties of Scottish government.
    We only have to look at Scotland Bill which our elected representatives offered over 100 amendments only to have all of them denied.
    That arrogance of WM will not change ,especially after the right wingers take control of the big boys seat.
    You are absolutely correct in regards to Labour in Scotland this s positively their last chance to get it right and get onside with the people.
    I fear however that those left in SLAB are too ingrained in their stupid hatred of the SNP to see the wood for the trees.
    Personally i think a year from now the Referendum will be held when all other avenues are closed and EU through Germany and France have given nods and winks to Scottish people that they will be welcomed with open arms.

    • I think another Project Fear would be a hateful thing few would want to get involved with. And what would anyone be selling? Nigel Farage, little Englanders? You might be right about it taking a year, but I really hope we can get it done much more quickly and get on with negotiations.

  10. Hi Eric
    Good to see you excited 😉

    Do you think there will be a border between Scotland and England then ?
    (Assuming Scots vote for Independence in the EU )

    Scotland “gets out more than it puts in to the EU “according to our FM .

    Will the EU welcome another member who can take part in the “rounds ” and not pay in to the kitty ?

    If Yes , then surely the EU will miss , GB who put in more than it got out .

    There have been murmurings in Sweden , Denmarck , Holland and Germany already about new EU referendums , in those countries , not to mention ireland .

    Either the EU will expell GB quickly , but still allow Free trade , (As the Germans seem to want )

    How they treat GB will be the benchmark for other countries to consider their future

    The EU may well get stricter and move for full political integration or stricter criteria , or they may get laxer to accommodate all parties .

    If they get Laxer , it will be an EU2.0 , and you will be hard to tell the difference of being in or out .

    If its stricter , Do you think they will make exceptions for Scotland , based on our unique nature as a country , will Edinburgh have the same impact in Berlin as Dublin does .

    I think EU 2.0 is on the cards , based on the fact that its the line of least resistance .

    • I don’t think so, for the main part. We’re an island and we’ll have the same security interests defended in the same way through agreement.

      • So there wont be a border , between Scotland and England , and Scotland will still use the pound sterling ,whilst its trading partners use Euros . and the EU will be amenable to these circumstances as they realise looser integration is the way to go .
        I think the case is harder for Indyref 2, a differnt currency and border controls is a seismic shift , you can tuse the austerity card and things can only get better , as scots dont want to pay £1.50 a week in tax to end austerity

        (based on the 3% leeway with income tax , a average Scot on 20k a year would pay £5 extra every week in tax , the 1.5 billion raised would mean no more food-banks forever )
        And that was considered electoral suicide at the time by the SNP .

        I could command the largest Army in Europe , but if I cant get them to climb over a wall ) , what good are they ? 😉 )

    • Thanks, Papko. No, I don’t think there’ll be a border post in the classical fashion. NI isn’t in Schengen and it doesn’t have a classical border with Eire, which is. If England wants to put one going one-way, they’re going to create harm to their own businesses and economy and also look pretty stupid into the bargain. The EU will make it tricky because present members are worried about their own internal secession problems. The EU can’t expel the UK quickly because there will need to be UK legislation first and that won’t happen until HMG decides (i.e. it’ll decide by October).

      EU2.0 is a very interesting idea. I guess that would depend on how things go in the countries you mention. It’ll be interesting to see how the French feel if Le Pen wins the first round of the French presidential election, which seems likely at the moment.

  11. Agree with much of what you say, Eric. But I have a feeling that the trauma of Brexit will see Scotland cling to any familiar bit of wreckage that passes by.

    • Thanks for this, Davie. Brexit will drive England to the right, I think, and give the Tories a long-lasting ascendancy. England is going to feel like a strange place. All Scotland needs is for a quarter of the ‘No’ folk to move. I think polls will show that’s happened in just a few days time.

      • If you’re right about the polls Eric, then I agree; we should go for it now.

        • It’ll take a proper poll or two, and maybe a week or two for people to think about it all, but I reckon it’ll be up in the 60s well before the end of Summer. And that’ll be going nowhere. Notably, many of the 15% of folk who don’t identify as Scottish will want to stay inside Europe and the calculus will be very different this time.

  12. Yes time for you to go. My Father was Scottish and served in a proud regiment. Personally if you want to leave then go just don’t ask for any money from the rest of the UK.

    Sooner the better for me. Has enough of your moaning about like in the UK.

    • Hey, Colin, Scotland will want a big chunk of oil revenue and England will be stuck with a Tory government of a distinctly right-wing hue. If you fancy that, then I don’t fancy yours. best, eric

      • Eric,

        You can have the oil revenue. The one thing the UK did wrong was to squander the money in the first place no argument from me. If we end up with a right wing government it is because the Labour party has forgotten where it cam from. I grew up in a council house and came from a working class/military family (I served myself) I now what it is to be poor and how hard it is to get out of that. Have another vote and good luck get on with the business of leaving. I love Scotland and what it has done for the UK throughout the centuries but I am sincere if you want to leave then do so but to quote our European friends leave means leave.

        • I don’t really understand why you’d think Jeremy Corbyn has forgotten working class folk, tbh. But of course you already have government of the right and it’s about to get a lot righter…. that’s because England voted for it. For now, it’s hard to see how and English election would produce anything other than an Tory government determined to slash public expenditure as an ideological imperative to a degree Cameron has been constrained from. The Tory Party is really very ideological at the moment; watch the younger MPs and listen to what they say on TV. England isn’t going to ‘give’ Scotland independence in Europe, though. Scotland is very much going to take it.

    • A comment Colin which will come back to haunt you, I hope you live a VERY long life Colin!


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