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Sun. July 14, 2024
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The UK Voted to Leave the EU, and Now Scotland Must Vote to Leave the UK
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By Kenneth Frank

On September 18 2014, Scotland held a referendum to decide whether or not it should leave the United Kingdom.  The referendum failed, but only by a margin of 5.3 percent of the vote. Six years later, the United Kingdom has voted to leave the European Union.  The reasons for this decision are numerous, but at the crux of them is the desire for the United Kingdom to have greater autonomy over its political and financial future.  This desire for self determination is both admirable and forward-thinking.  However, if this logic is to be followed to its natural conclusion, it also means Scottish independence from the UK. 

As previously stated, the UK’s decision to leave the EU is an admirable one.  For too long Europe has been bogged down and hampered by the trappings of an institution that has done little but to cause logistical nightmares for monetary and fiscal policies of the European nations and hold back the economic potential of stronger EU member states such as the UK, Germany and France. This has been perpetrated by forcing these nations to act as a sort of political babysitter and bank for the less productive nations that leech off of them.  The UK’s decision to leave the EU breaks thee country free of these shackles and allows the UK to follow its own path into the future.  However, this logic can not be applied on a purely situational basis.  In the same way that the EU has held the UK back, the UK has held Scotland back.  Time and again, England has taken advantage of Scotland under the terms of the United Kingdom.  Perhaps the best known example is England’s taking advantage of Scotland’s oil, a practice that has limited Scottish economic growth for years.  There is also the issue that Scotland wishes to remain in the EU, something that will be impossible while a member of the UK.

While there are specific and singular reasons for Scotland to leave the UK, such as the issue of the North Sea oil, there are also broader issues at play, and these issues only seem to be mounting.  While the English citizenry has voted in an overwhelmingly conservative government (the largest majority since Thatcher), Scotland has been moving further to the left with equal fervor, voting repeatedly for the expansion of entitlement programs.  However, this shift is far less visible, as Scotland’s vote is barely recognizable in a UK parliament that has been, and continues to be, dominated by the English vote.  Independence for Scotland is not just about a quarrel over oil money.  It is a necessary step in acknowledging that the different UK nations have been, and continue to be, diverging rapidly in their political and governmental policies.  Sometimes when two joint parties are drifting apart, the only logical solution is to separate them entirely.  Rather than have a muffled Scottish voice in parliament rail against a conservative government that has little reason to listen to them, we could see two separate nations move in their own directions, and perhaps, in the process, repair what is most definitely a broken relationship.

It is of course worth mentioning that critics of Scottish independence do raise valid concerns.  Scotland would be faced with the herculean task of operating with total Independence for the first time since the Acts of Union joined that nation with England.  There would also be questions in regard to where Scotland’s economic growth would stem from with the price of oil in the cellar.  The new reality of the modern era, however, answers some of these questions.  Small nations with limited natural resources now have the option to move into tech, a strategy that nations such as Israel have proven can work wonders. 

Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, separation from the UK would allow a path back into the EU, and while the EU was wrong for England, its immediate economic and security benefits could ease Scotland into independence while still affording it a hand to hold on to.  Eventually it would be nice to see Scotland be free from the EU as well, but for the time being it could prove a valuable, if flawed resource.

The prospect of Scottish independence is a daunting one, and its future would be far from certain.  But the Brexit vote was a vote for autonomy, and Scotland deserves no less than this ideal if it wishes to move into a brighter future, free from the shackles of English abuses and the political logjam that have defined the nation’s existence for far too long.       

Ken Frank is a Senior studying History at George Washington University.



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