After the stunning decision by United Kingdom voters to leave the European Union, there is now a call within Scotland to hold another referendum to leave the U.K. itself. Scotland voters overwhelmingly voted to stay in the European Union, as did voters in Northern Ireland. The majority in England and Wales voted to leave.
Nicola Sturgeon Calls Scotland Leaving the EU ‘Democratically Unacceptable’
In her response to the referendum, First Minister and Scotland National Party (SNP) leader Nicola Sturgeon said that a new referendum on Scotland’s status within the U.K. must be on the table. She noted that the SNP’s party platform during last month’s elections called for a vote to be scheduled if Scotland was taken out of the EU “against out will,” adding that it is “democratically unacceptable.” Sturgeon said:
Scotland does now face that prospect – it is a significant and material change in circumstances – and it is therefore a statement of the obvious that the option of a second referendum must be on the table. And it is on the table. Clearly, though, there are a lot of discussions to be had before final decisions are taken.
Sturgeon added that she has spoken with business leaders to “emphasise that as of now we are still firmly in the EU,” adding, “Trade and business should continue as normal and we are determined that Scotland will continue now and in the future to be an attractive and a stable place to do business.”
Over 60 Percent of Scotland Voters Wanted to Stay in the European Union
According to the results from BBC, the overall result of the Brexit referendum was 51.9 percent to leave and 48.1 percent to stay. But within Scotland itself, the results were drastically different. With a 67.2 percent turnout, 62 percent voted to stay and 38 percent voted to leave. Northern Ireland also wished to stay, with 55.8 percent voting to remain and 44.2 percent voting to leave.
If a referendum is scheduled within the next year or so, it will be the second referendum on Scottish independence in just the past three years. In 2014, Scotland voted 55.3 to 44.7 percent to stay in the U.K.
During the campaigning before the Brexit vote, Sturgeon’s government was officially for staying in the EU. “Our position, whether it’s government or the party, is that Scotland’s and indeed the UK’s prospects are far better being in continued membership rather than being outside,” chief spokesman Jim Sillars said in March.
Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness suggested there be a poll to unite Ireland, as the region shares a border with the EU country. There are concerns about how the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland would be handled, and if free travel between them would still be allowed.
“The British government now has no democratic mandate to represent the views of the North in any future negotiations with the European Union and I do believe that there is a democratic imperative for a ‘border poll’ to be held,” McGuinness told RTE, notes Reuters. “The implications for all of us on the island of Ireland are absolutely massive. This could have very profound implications for our economy (in Northern Ireland).”