EU (Parliament Politics Maganize) – Scotland can recover what Brexit took away by rejoining the EU as an independent nation, the Scottish government asserted on Friday. However, there are significant challenges to overcome, as outlined in a new document authored by senior officials from the pro-independence Scottish National Party government. The paper details the path for an independent Scotland to re-enter the EU, free from its ties to the UK, years after being separated by the Brexit referendum. Despite this vision, the Scottish independence movement faces a challenging period.
Likelihood of A Second Referendum
Having faced defeat in the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence, the likelihood of a second referendum seems increasingly remote. Factors contributing to this include the diminishing support for the SNP as indicated by declining poll numbers, and the persistent resistance from the Westminster government. The situation is compounded by the turmoil following Nicola Sturgeon’s resignation as the Scottish first minister and the gradual resurgence of the Scottish Labour Party. The anticipation of the SNP losing seats in the upcoming general election next year adds another layer to the challenges, marking a potential setback for the party.
However, the Scottish government remains confident in presenting a compelling case. The recently released paper is part of an ongoing series outlining the vision for an independent Scotland. These documents are strategically crafted to reinforce the argument for separation, a stance that continues to maintain steady support, as indicated by POLITICO’s Poll of Polls. Additionally, they aim to bring the topic back into the spotlight, especially as Scotland’s new leader, Humza Yousaf, endeavors to assert his influence in the role.
In an op-ed penned for POLITICO to promote the paper, Yousaf asserts that Scotland’s “voice” has been disregarded by the U.K. government. He goes on to highlight the prevalent sentiment in Scotland, where many are questioning whether pursuing an independent path and seeking EU membership in their own right is the key to a more promising future for the country.
Gist of The Matter
According to an unnamed Scottish government official, not authorized to speak on the record, the paper is, in part, directed toward a “Brussels audience” and can be seen as a persuasive appeal to influential figures on the continent. The document initiates by emphasizing the alignment of Scotland’s “core values” with those of the European Union. It contends that Scotland can significantly contribute as a responsible and dependable future EU member state, displaying full commitment to the rule of international law and the advancement of people’s rights.
This strategic messaging appears to create a contrast between the Scottish government and Rishi Sunak’s Westminster administration, which is under pressure from its MPs to eliminate the UK’s human rights framework amid challenges with its asylum policy.
In a similar vein, Yousaf states in his POLITICO article that the SNP would “never seek to bring other countries into an independence debate that is between ourselves and the U.K. government.” This passage can be interpreted both as a message directed at a cautious Madrid and as an assurance to the European audience that the Scottish government is not seeking special assistance from Europe in its quest for independence.
The SNP emphasizes Scotland’s resounding vote for Remain in the 2016 referendum as a key argument for independence, although garnering the support of all those voters remains a formidable challenge. However, the intricate process of rejoining the EU presents potential hurdles for Scotland’s nationalists.
To begin with, the EU mandates that new members commit to adopting the Euro—an aspect the SNP is reluctant to embrace, given that currency concerns played a role in undermining their prospects in the 2014 referendum. Instead, the paper reiterates the party’s stance of retaining the British pound even post-independence, with a gradual transition to a new “Scottish pound” in the future.
The paper also addresses the challenging issue of a potential trade border with England if Scotland were to enter the single market. It acknowledges the necessity of “smooth checks” at the border for the movement of goods to and from neighboring England and Wales.
The argument put forth suggests that a newly established government ministry, tasked with overseeing trade with the rest of the U.K., would employ online technology to minimize, though not entirely eliminate, the checks and administrative processes required at the border.