Scotland Delays Independence Plans in Wake of Election Defeat

Nicola Sturgeon
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon of Scotland answers questions from reporters in Edinburgh, June 24, 2016 (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. Read more “Scotland Delays Independence Plans in Wake of Election Defeat”

Second Scottish Referendum Unlikely After Voters Punish SNP

Edinburgh Scotland
Skyline of Edinburgh, Scotland (Unsplash/Joe Tree)

A second Scottish independence referendum seems unlikely after the region’s separatists lost almost half their seats in Britain’s general election.

The Scottish National Party won 56 of Scotland’s 59 seats in Westminster in 2015 but lost 21 of them on Thursday.

Among those defeated were Angus Robertson, the SNP frontman, and Alex Salmond, the former first minister of Scotland. Read more “Second Scottish Referendum Unlikely After Voters Punish SNP”

What Britain’s General Election Result Means

Whitehall London England
View of the Houses of Parliament from Whitehall in London, England (Shutterstock/Alan Copson)

Britain’s ruling Conservatives are projected to lose control of Parliament. The exit poll for Thursday’s election shows them falling from 330 to 314 seats. Twelve more are needed for a majority.

Assuming the exit poll isn’t too far off, what does this mean for Britain’s next government, its major political parties and the process of divorcing the United Kingdom from the EU? Read more “What Britain’s General Election Result Means”

Voters Notice SNP Has Neglected Education, Health Care

Nicola Sturgeon
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon of Scotland gives a speech in Tweedbank, September 9, 2015 (Scottish Government)

Chris Deerin reports for the New Statesman that Scottish voters are starting to notice the ruling National Party (SNP) has neglected good governance in favor of the independence cause:

Its raison d’etre is independence; everything else — literally everything else — is just another brick to build the path. And so education reform cannot be either radical or unpopular, even if it needs to be so to work, because the SNP cannot afford to alienate teachers or the teaching unions or parents. Bricks, you see. Same with the NHS and doctors and health unions and patients. All the separatists have done — all they could have done, given their nature — is deploy the rhetoric of the radical while in reality body-swerving hard choices and conflict at any cost. And where they have found themselves taking flak, they’ve pointed south to Westminster: “it’s no’ our fault, it’s theirs”.

I’ve been surprised in the past when Scottish voters were willing to overlook the SNP’s failures in education and health care, so I can only welcome this development. It isn’t healthy for one issue — independence — to trump all else and the SNP really has dropped the ball in crucial areas. Read more “Voters Notice SNP Has Neglected Education, Health Care”

Scotland Calls for Second Referendum: Why and Why Now?

Nicola Sturgeon
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon of Scotland answers questions from reporters in Edinburgh, June 24, 2016 (Scottish Government)

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she wants to hold a second independence referendum for the region in either late 2018 or early 2019.

The announcement comes days before the United Kingdom is expected to formally inform its allies in the European Union that it intends to withdraw from the body. Such a notification would trigger a two-year divorce process. If Sturgeon gets her way, that means Scots would be asked to choose between the EU and the United Kingdom by the time the terms of “Brexit” are known.

Sturgeon and a majority of Scots elected to remain in the EU in a referendum last year. They were outvoted by majorities in England and Wales.

The first minister told reporters in Edinburgh on Monday that she would do her utmost to represent Scotland’s interests in the negotiations with the EU.

But, she added, “I cannot pretend to the Scottish people that a compromise agreement looks remotely likely given the hardline response from the prime minister so far.” Read more “Scotland Calls for Second Referendum: Why and Why Now?”

“Hard” Brexit Dilemma for Scottish Nationalists

Theresa May’s admission last week that the United Kingdom will have to leave the single market at the same time as it leaves the EU means the Scottish nationalists face a difficult choice: relent or demand a second independence referendum.

Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish National Party leader and regional first minister, had urged “flexibility” in Britain’s exit negotiations with the EU. 62 percent of Scots voted to remain in the bloc last summer against 47 percent of the English. Many feel like Sturgeon that Scotland is being taken out of the EU against its will.

Sturgeon warned that a “hard” exit, under which all parts of the United Kingdom would lose access to the European single market, could convince her party to seek independence a second time. Read more ““Hard” Brexit Dilemma for Scottish Nationalists”

“Flexible” Brexit Is Not a Realistic Solution for Scotland

A “flexible” Brexit, under which those parts of the United Kingdom that voted in June’s referendum to stay in the European Union would remain members of the single market, may be the answer to many political headaches, but it’s almost impossible to pull off.

Such a scheme might work for Gibraltar and Northern Ireland, which share land borders with the EU but not with Great Britain.

But it’s difficult to imagine how this could work for Scotland. Would continental goods that were exported tariff-free to Scotland be taxed at the English border? What about Europeans visiting Edinburgh or Glasgow without a visa? Would they need to go through customs if they wanted to see other parts of the United Kingdom?

Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has nevertheless called for flexibility, “particularly for those parts of the United Kingdom that voted decisively to remain in Europe.”

62 percent of Scots voted to stay in the EU this summer against 47 percent of the English.

The majority of voters in Gibraltar, London and Northern Ireland opted to remain as well. Read more ““Flexible” Brexit Is Not a Realistic Solution for Scotland”

Sturgeon’s “Listening Exercise” an Admission of Weakness

The “biggest ever political listening exercise” to gauge public support for a second independence referendum Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, announced on Friday is really an admission of weakness.

Sturgeon, who heads the separatist Scottish National Party, said the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union in a referendum this summer will have “a deep impact on our ambition for this country.”

“The United Kingdom that existed before June 23 has fundamentally changed,” she told a party gathering in Stirling.

Whereas a majority of English and Welsh voters opted to leave the EU, a majority of Scots voted to stay in. They feel they’re now being taken out of the 28-nation bloc against their will.

Yet Sturgeon has balked at calling for a second Scottish independence referendum outright. Read more “Sturgeon’s “Listening Exercise” an Admission of Weakness”

Scotland Could Delay Britain’s European Union Exit

Unicorn Edinburgh Scotland
Statue of a Scottish unicorn in Edinburgh, March 11, 2014 (byronv2)

Britain’s exit from the European Union could be delayed until there is agreement from all four parts of the United Kingdom on how to proceed.

Theresa May, the new prime minister, made good on her commitment to keep the union intact when she promised on Friday not to invoke Article 50 of the EU treaty — which would trigger a two-year divorce proceeding from the bloc — until all devolved governments agree on a strategy.

She spoke in Scotland, which voted overwhelmingly to stay in the European Union in a referendum last month.

Northern Ireland, which is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with a fellow EU member state, also voted to remain whereas majorities in England and Wales voted to get out. Read more “Scotland Could Delay Britain’s European Union Exit”

It’s Time For These Women to Take Charge

Sarah Gordon argues in the Financial Times that Britain’s male politicians have failed to rise to the occasion and it is time to hand over to the women. Discipline and maturity may not be their exclusive preserve, she writes, but “the past few days could give one an excuse for believing so.”

There is something to be said for female power at a time when the men in her country’s ruling party appear to be living out their House of Cards fantasies.

Indeed, there is something to be said for female power across the Atlantic as well, where one party is in thrall to a caricature of an alpha male. Read more “It’s Time For These Women to Take Charge”