Indyref 2.0 will be a very different campaign


Photo: VoxEurope

Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement yesterday of planning for a second independence referendum following the results of the EU referendum came as no surprise to anybody.

Nevertheless, it is worth observing what we learned from yesterday’s vote and how it adds up with the vote in 2014, and look ahead to indyref 2.0.

Going into the polling booth on Thursday, it struck me the difference I felt compared with the vote in 2014.

I was tempted to change my vote, and I would imagine a number of people who intended to vote Remain had a similar feeling. Well, they must have done, else the polls were very wrong once again.

The difference here is people were tempted by the non-status quo option at the ballot box, not the status-quo as in 2014. It is likely in the latter vote people decided at the box to just stick with the No vote.

Understandably, unless there is someone over 300 years-old out there, people had no idea what an independent Scotland would really look like. After all, it was 1707 when parliament was dissolved.

However, this time there is a whole generation and more who remember up to 50 years of life before the European Union, and so a final decision to opt to leave would not be unexpected.

As I said yesterday, Sturgeon should be wary about indyref 2.0: 62% of Scots voting to Remain does not mean a push for independence.

In fact, it could even be the opposite. Many, many SNP and independence supporters voted to leave, arguing for a fully sovereign Scottish Parliament.


Photo: BBC

Furthermore, there are perhaps new considerations to make this time around.

In 2014, Scotland (obviously) voted to remain in the UK. This meant that, regardless of how Scotland voted versus rUK, we voted as a part of the UK. Not as Scotland, England, Northern Ireland, and Wales.

Based on previous attitudes from Brussels, Sturgeon’s message to “protect Scotland’s relationship with the European Union” in soon-to-be-held talks will perhaps be countered with a “Well, you did vote to be part of the UK” by the EU.

Now, I am not saying this is fair, but in 2014 there was a 300 year-long period since Scottish independence had been quesitoned. Thus, the matter of preferential treatment based on Scottish-rUK differences may have been on the cards.

This time it might not be so easy.

A second consideration is the timescale.

Legislation is already in motion for a second referendum, but must be completed and voted on before the two-year window closes.

Once Article 50 is invoked, negotiators have two years to finalised a Brexit deal. Thus, Scotland would be a non-EU nation seeking reapplication.

This creates a problem, namely (once again) that of currency, but on a much more clear-cut level than in 2014.

The UK opted-out of the third stage of the creation of a European Economic and Monetary Union, as did Denmark.

The brief said: “Special rules apply to two Member States. The United Kingdom has not proceeded to the third stage. Denmark has obtained a protocol providing that a referendum shall decide on its participation in the third stage.”

A post-EU Scotland would have to seriously discuss this possibility, unless the Scottish Government does secure an independence vote before the end of the two years.

We have had currency debates before, but this time it would be cut-and-dry, and whether people will feel bolder going ahead with a currency union, or would rather establish a Scottish Pound Sterling remains to be seen.

Appetite appears strong for a second referendum in some corners, but I have heard many people say the words: “I did not want it like this.”

It is true, it will be a messy divorce if Scotland simultaneously leaves the UK as the UK leaves the EU.

For now, Scotland is still in the UK, and is fighting the wishes of over 17 million people who voted to leave the EU, in a union they chose to remain in two years ago.


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