Scotland Delays Independence Plans in Wake of Election Defeat

The ruling National Party thought Brexit had made Scots hungry for independence. They were wrong.

Nicola Sturgeons waves to photographers outside the Scottish first minister's residence in Edinburgh, November 20, 2014
Nicola Sturgeons waves to photographers outside the Scottish first minister’s residence in Edinburgh, November 20, 2014 (Scottish Government)

Scotland’s ruling nationalists have delayed plans for a second independence referendum with Nicola Sturgeon, the regional first minister, arguing it is “too soon right now” to make a decision.

The climbdown comes after the Scottish National Party went down from 50 to 37 percent support in parliamentary elections.

Sturgeon had called for another referendum to be held in either the autumn of 2018 or the spring of 2019, just before Britain is due to leave the European Union.

On Tuesday, she told lawmakers she would push back the legislation until at least the autumn of next year.

Scotland would still need permission from the central government in London for a legally binding vote to be held.

The last referendum was in 2014. 55 percent of Scots voted against breaking away from the United Kingdom at the time.

Miscalculated

After the election this month, I argued that the SNP had miscalculated.

It assumed Brexit had changed minds. A majority of Scots voted against leaving the EU, but they were overruled by majorities in England and Wales. Surely, the nationalists thought, that must have whetted appetites for independence?

It turned it hadn’t. Whereas the SNP lost 13 percent support, the unionist Conservative Party, which is the most pro-Brexit of the major parties, gained almost 14 percent.