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Thursday marked the beginning of the end of the United Kingdom

Scotland has asked Boris Johnson for the right to hold a second independence referendum…

Submitted by InfoBrics, authored by Johanna Ross is a journalist based in Edinburgh, Scotland…

Thursday was a busy news day, what with Trump’s impeachment and the Queen’s speech in Westminster, but another item given less coverage in UK mainstream media was arguably more significant than anything else making the headlines. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s speech, formally asking the UK Prime Minister to transfer the powers to hold a referendum on independence from Westminster to the Scottish parliament, may well go down in history as the beginning of the end of the United Kingdom.

Having bagged a landslide election victory, winning 48 out of the 59 seats in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon has wasted no time in confronting Boris Johnson with what is, for him, an uncomfortable truth: that Scotland wants a second referendum on independence, and it’s not going to go away. Sturgeon’s rhetoric so far has been bold, saying that Scotland would not be ‘imprisoned’ inside the Union and that the UK government had to ‘confront reality’.  On Thursday in her speech from Bute House she said her government now had an ‘unarguable mandate by any standards of democracy’ to hold another referendum on independence.

Alongside her letter to Boris Johnson requesting the powers to legally hold a second referendum under Section 30 of the 1998 Scotland Act, she published a 38 page document detailing proposed amendments to the statute, which would devolve the right to vote on leaving the UK to the Holyrood parliament. Entitled Scotland’s Right to Choose, the paper outlines her argument that there has been a “material change of circumstances” since the 2014 referendum, based on “the prospect of Scotland leaving the EU against its will and what EU exit has revealed about Scotland’s position within the UK”.

The Nationalists’ leader has a fair point. For we can debate about voters’ motivations till the cows come home, but facts are facts, and the fact remains that on 12th December the majority of Scots put their support behind a party which stands on an independence platform. Brexit hit Scotland twofold: it wasn’t simply the issue of leaving the EU itself which Scotland was against, but moreover this proud, northern nation has taken great exception to its views not being taken into account whatsoever in negotiations. In the draft Withdrawal Agreement there are umpteen mentions of Northern Ireland, but very little about how Scotland’s interests will be protected. The attitude has been something along the lines of ‘Scotland voted to remain in the UK in 2014 so it just has to put up with whatever Westminster decides’.

Indeed to say that Westminister is reluctant to grant another referendum is an understatement. Boris Johnson made it clear to Sturgeon in a telephone conversation last week that he was against it. This was reiterated by his minister Michael Gove this week when he said that there was ‘absolutely’ no prospect of the UK government ‘allowing’ another vote in the next five years.  And herein lies the problem. For Westminster is always going to protect the Union, and oppose Scotland breaking away at all costs, as Spain has with Catalonia. Thinking that the EU would support Scotland when it hasn’t offered any help to Catalonia is futile.

Opponents are currently arguing that in fact, Sturgeon only won 45% of the vote last week, echoing the 2014 referendum result, and therefore, they suggest that there is no more appetite now than there was before. But one has to take into account the turnout for these two elections, and demographics. Many more people voted in the 2014 referendum than in last week’s election – 84% compared to 68%, and in particular, voters aged 16 and 17 were allowed to vote, as Scotland passed a law in 2014 allowing young people to do so in Scottish matters. Sturgeon knows that independence is popular amongst Scotland’s youth and therefore with the right campaign strategy, she must believe she can persuade young people to get out and vote for independence.

Sturgeon is careful. Independence activists have been calling on her for years now to demand a second referendum and she is regularly accused of even secretly not wanting independence herself. But clearly she has just been biding her time and her patience has paid off. She could not have chosen a better time now to call for indyref2, the momentum is behind her after the election, with the political divide between Scotland and England more stark than ever before. And Westminster’s obstinance could just play into her hands, as the more reluctant they are to grant the referendum, the more resentment towards them will build up north of the border. Johnson should be advised to grant Sturgeon’s wishes now, or risk fostering such levels of antagonism towards him and his government in Scotland, from which there would be no way back…

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The Wave Machine
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The Wave Machine

Pretty soon, Brits can sing about ruling bathtubs.

Smoking Eagle
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Smoking Eagle

That should be “English” and not “Brits”. Everyone in the archipelago of the British Isles is British. All told, there are more than 6,000 islands in the archipelago with about 140 being permanently inhabited. Great Britain is the name of the largest island within which lie England, Scotland and Wales. Ireland is the second largest island. The Scots, Irish and Welsh don’t like to be called British, but geographically they are.

Joe
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Joe

Ireland is NOT part of Britain, and never has been.

Smoking Eagle
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Smoking Eagle

Yes, geographically, Ireland is indeed part of the British Isles archipelago, and that makes all of the islands within it British. This does not mean the same thing as being part of island of Great Britain, or part of the UK, but just part of the same archipelago. I found two reasonable comments on the subject: “As far as I’m aware the first reference to these islands comes from the Greeks, who referred to them as the “Pretanic Isles”, from the word “Brythonic”, a Celtic cultural/linguistic group. Pretanic” then evolved into “Britannic” and then into the modern “British”, so technically… Read more »

You dumb as f...
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You dumb as f...

The earliest known use of the phrase Brytish Iles in the English language is dated 1577 in a work by John Dee.[41] Today, this name is seen by some as carrying imperialist overtones[20] although it is still commonly used. Owing to political and national associations with the word British, the Government of Ireland does not use the term British Isles[18] and in documents drawn up jointly between the British and Irish governments, the archipelago is referred to simply as “these islands”.
Geography is one thing, names/labels are another.

Smoking Eagle
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Smoking Eagle

The name “Britain” is much older. “The earliest recorded place names for the group of islands off the north east European coast are in the works of classical Greek and Roman authors.” “We owe the name of Britain to Pytheas of Massalia, a Greek explorer from present-day Marseille, who travelled to Britain in around 325BCE and recorded the local names of the places he visited. Unfortunately, Pytheas’s writings do not survive but they were widely used as a source by other ancient but desk-bound geographers such as the first-century BCE Greek author Diodorus Siculus who recorded one of the islands… Read more »

Olivia Kroth
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“Pretty soon, Brits can sing about ruling bathtubs.” Yes, indeed, “the sun never sets over british bath tubs”.

Theopilus
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Theopilus

This article overlooks the fact that it is very likely that many electors who did not want Brexit voted SNP in the hopes of a hung parliament and no Brexit. Once Brexit is settled, it remains to be seen how many voters will continue to support an SNP that is very confused about a future border with England, fishing rights, currency and wanting to rejoin the EU which would just lead to swapping dependence on London for dependence on Brussels. All the constituencies along the border voted Conservative. The SNP oppose a No Deal on Brexit but seem to think… Read more »

jenny 234
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jenny 234

only those in Scotland can vote for the SNP – far too over-represented in parliament having far more seats than their electoral percentage – but hey, who cares?

Olivia Kroth
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Thank goodness this “kingdom” is falling apart, and if the monarchy on the remaining main island was abolished, I would not cry a single tear. Maybe such parasites as “Meghan the dragon” would fly home to her native US with steaming nostrils then?

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