Second Independence Referendum: Can Scotland secede from Britain?

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Scottish independence

The proposed second Scottish independence referendum, after the failure of the first one in 2014 has become a moot point between British Parliament and Scotland. On 28th June 2022, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon proposed that a second Referendum for the independence of Scotland from the UK would be held on 19 October 2023.

This was required as 1st referendum held in September 2014 had failed to get public support as 55% of people rejected the proposal. However pro-independence political parties, the most prominent of which is the Scottish National Party (SNP) adamant about making Scotland free, came out with the idea that a second referendum could be held if a new political situation arises. This new situation came when the UK wanted to exit European Union and conducted a referendum on Brexit. Although the referendum was a success in Scotland People did not like the idea and 62% said no to the proposal.

This encouraged the secessionist parties to announce the second referendum. Here it is pertinent to clear legal doubts also. Many believe that Scottish Parliament is empowered to conduct a referendum without the approval of the British Parliament. The matter is still pending before the Apex Court of Great Britain. Whatever may be the decision of the apex court the matter is not going to be resolved till the secessionist parties are convinced of the futility of the effort of making Scotland, independent. But this is a very difficult task.

Actually, the Act of Union (1707) by which Scotland was made part of Great Britain was a unilateral law. The Scottish people did not like it. This act was thrust upon them. Scottish people had their own distinct culture, language, and political system. Scottish Highlanders followed the Catholic religion whereas in another part Presbyterianism, which is a type of Protestantism but not the same as followed in England. It was only because of the Economic prosperity obtained by Industrial Revolution that England was able to extend its influence on Scotland.

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The result of the Act of Union was devastating for the Scottish people. Their culture, Language, attire, political institutions, and above all identity, were systematically suppressed. The Scottish Highlanders suffered a yet more terrible fate. They were not allowed to even use their Gaelic language and traditional dress. Their Catholic faith was also demeaned. Whenever they organized opposition, they were ruthlessly crushed.

Thousands of them were forced to leave their countries. Hence, in the absence of any long-lasting love between England and Scotland, the matter is not going to be put in abeyance even after judicial verdicts. What could be the impact of this entire process of the independence referendum on the relationship between England and Scotland will be an intensifying thing to watch.

First of all the chance of getting enough support from people for independence is bleak. Over 300 hundred years, the social, political, and economic interdependence has become so complex that for both countries the deal of separation would be very costly. Secondly, even if the secessionist parties succeed in mustering enough support, British Parliament would not allow the independence of Scotland. The chances of Scottish parties getting outside help are also very less. Given the current global Geo-political situation no country would risk getting involved there or invite British hostility.

However, despite these hurdles, if Scotland becomes free, it will soon emerge as a big rival of England itself. It will also encourage other areas of England to follow the same route. Northern Ireland can also do the same. The Irish people had fought the British till the 1970s, they won’t think twice before taking Scotland’s way.

The Economic loss will also be big. How England would go without Scottish Whiskey, Gold, Silver, Chromium, Copper, Mica, and talc. Therefore, England at no cost will allow an independent Scotland. The Scottish leaders might be right in thinking of an independent Scotland but “there are many ifs between the cup and lips”.

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