Only hours after the Brexit result, we are already talking about the future of Scotland in the UK.
The theme of almost all commentary so far is that we don’t know what will happen next. For example, Craig McAngus describes the need to weigh up a moment of opportunity with the great uncertainty about the likelihood of a Yes vote this time. I make a similar argument in the Conversation (reproduced below) about Salmond’s phrase ‘Scotland being dragged out of the European Union’:
“The truth is that we don’t know what will happen in Scotland following the Brexit referendum, even though it is tempting to say that Scottish independence now seems inevitable. And, dare I say it, this is possibly the worst time – immediately after an emotionally draining campaign and result – in which to deliberate and come to a decision.
Certainly, the UK vote provides the only plausible trigger, in the short term, to have a second referendum on Scottish independence. For some time, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has argued that, if most voters in Scotland vote to stay in, and most voters in the UK overall vote to leave, it would prompt SNP demands for the second referendum. At the time of writing, this case couldn’t seem symbolically stronger: the vote to leave is 52% across the UK, but in Scotland 62% voted to Remain.
Yet, it is too soon to tell if today’s result will prompt a major and sustained upswing in support for independence. This is partly because it is also too soon to predict Scotland’s place in EU negotiations. The second referendum story requires a heroic and cosmopolitan Scotland fighting to leave the parochial UK to remain in the EU. So, we first need to know Scotland’s likely status in the EU before we can identify the heroes and villains of our next story”.