Supporters of Scottish independence at the Parliament building in Edinburgh
Photo: Andrew Milligan / AP
The Scottish Parliament voted for a referendum on independence from the UK in the period between autumn 2018 and spring 2019. The vote, if approved by London, will be held before the British exit from the EU
The Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, March 28, voted to hold a second referendum on independence from the United Kingdom before the Kingdom will leave the EU. Of the 129 members of Parliament the decision was supported by 69 deputies, 59 opposed.
The vote was to be held on March 22, but was postponed for security reasons: the same day the attack took place at the British Parliament building in London.
To Prevent Brexit
On the 13th of March the first Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon has formally proposed to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence “in the period between autumn 2018 and spring 2019,” that is, in the last months before the scheduled release of the UK leaving the EU, or Brexit.
According to first Deputy Minister, this step is necessary to protect the interests of the region that could be affected by the withdrawal of the whole Kingdom from the European Union. The Scots, according to her, has to make a choice — either to go to London to the end, or to take a course to independence. And it must be done in the months before Brexit when the conditions of exit from the EU will become clear, but the process of Brexit still not complete.
“When we impose change, we must have the right of choice,” said Sturgeon in a debate on Tuesday. “The people of Scotland should say its word”, said the Minister.
A referendum on Brexit was held in June 2016. Just exit from the EU voted 51.9% of the British, but the Scots were in favour of retaining ties with the European Union. For each of the 32 local areas of Scotland defeated opponents Brexit. In the whole region for the preservation of the country’s membership in the EU were made by 62% of the voting.
Based on this Sturgeon insists Scotland is forced out of the EU against the will of its citizens and the results of the vote for Brexit prove it. “The UK government takes decisions solely unilaterally, which in my opinion and the opinion of many others, is destructive to our economy and the world situation”, — said the head of the Scottish government. She also added that “the decision about what kind of country we are and what our path can only be taken by the people of Scotland”. Sturgeon explained that “in the last two years the Scottish government has developed a number of proposals aimed at protecting Scotland from the consequences of Brexit. And if at least one was considered by the British government, we wouldn’t be having discussions about the referendum today.”
Scotland has already held a referendum on secession from the UK. The first independence referendum was held 18 September 2014. Then 55% of Scots voted against independence.
The possibility of a second referendum has caused conflicting opinions among politicians.
For example, a member of the Scottish Parliament Alex Neil, a former Minister in the government of the Sturgeon, in the first round of debate on March 21 highlighted the need to await final agreement between London and Brussels on the terms Brexit and then to determine the date and the necessity of a referendum. “If the negotiations between Britain and the EU will go according to plan (which is a very big “if”) and by October 2018, they will be completed, we still will not be able to understand the essence of the final transaction prior to its ratification by the parliaments of all participating parties, said Neil in an interview with The Telegraph. — It would be wiser not to approve the date of the referendum until the transaction Brexit is not finally approved”.
However, Neil promised to vote for a new referendum. The MPs of the Scottish national party and green party make up the majority in the Scottish Parliament, support the idea of a second referendum.
The parliamentary opposition in Scotland, primarily the labour and Conservative party have already expressed their disagreement with the initiative. In particular, the leader of the Scottish conservatives Ruth Davidson pointed out that voters “are fed up with games in independence.”
In addition, notes the Deputy of the nail before to arrange a re-vote should enlist the support of the people, than Edinburgh yet a lot of difficulties. According to published 19 March The Sunday Times poll, only 32% of Scots support the Sturgeon in the intention to hold a referendum before the completion of negotiations on Brexit. Another 18% want to spend it after the exit from the EU, while 51% of Scots do oppose a second referendum on independence.
The leader of the Scottish labour Kezia Dugdale in the debate on Tuesday said that “the opinion of the Scottish national party and the green party does not reflect the will of the Scottish people”. “We’re quite separated, do not separate us again” — called Dugdale.
Supporters of Scottish independence at the Parliament building in Edinburgh
Photo: Russell Cheyne / Reuters
According to the same poll, if a referendum does take place, only 44% of respondents support the independence of Scotland (vs 45% of the vote three years ago). Previously, the Sturgeon and the other leaders of the ruling Scottish national party has repeatedly argued that the failure of the referendum was due to this desire of Scots to remain in the EU by maintaining the region as part of Britain. The Scottish government is interested in maintaining close ties with the EU: first of all, we are talking about the common market. In 2015, the EU had around £12.3 billion of Scottish exports, or almost half of all deliveries outside the UK.
However, this amount is only 16% of all exports of Scotland, whereas 63% (£49.8 billion in 2015) took the export to the rest of the Kingdom. This draws the attention of a senior researcher at Oxford University, expert of the Valdai club John Lloyd. According to him, the close trade relations reflect mutual dependence of Scotland and the UK, which manifested in the subsidies to the Scottish economy from London.
At the time of the referendum of 2014, the main exports of Scotland was oil and whiskey. However, the decline in energy prices collapsed, oil and gas revenues of Edinburgh. In the 2013/14 financial year, the revenue from North sea wells amounted to exactly £4 billion a year they fell to £1.8 billion, and for the 2015/16 financial year to just £60 million (the collapse of 97%). At the same time, only the excise taxes on alcohol in recent years consistently amount to about £1 billion of revenue in the budget of Scotland.
Speaking about the dramatic collapse of oil revenues, the government Agency revenues and expenses (GERS) has in mind is the budget revenues — taxes from oil companies. However, the potential value extracted in the 2015/16 year oil official statistical Agency of the Scottish estimates are much higher — at £10.1 billion (oil and condensate production, excluding natural gas).
This figure has decreased from the 2014/15 financial year is 29% — much weaker than fiscal revenues. North sea Brent crude oil, notes the Independent, the road to production, and the price is around $50 per barrel — on a par with the fall in world demand and rising supplies from the Middle East, makes its production unprofitable.
According to the Scottish statistics, 15 years ago, the operating costs of oil companies accounted for about 20% of the value of extracted oil and gas to the 2015/16 financial year, they rose to 50%, and with capital expenditures already exceed the potential revenue.
In August 2016 Sturgeon for the first time admittedthat the fall of the energy market caused an economic shock, the consequences of which are covered by subsidies from London. Specific figures were not specified, but the inconsistencies in the balance suggests that subsidies to the Scots to achieve a balanced budget needs to be £1600 per capita (around £9 billion).
“Based on current trends, in an independent Scotland expect a budget deficit of 9% — said RBC Lloyd from the University of Oxford. This is one of the most significant indices in Europe.” At the same time for EU accession candidate country must have a budget deficit less than 3%.
Battle of the iron lady
Prime Minister Theresa may opposes the referendum on Scottish independence, but under the law to spend it without the consent of London impossible. Mae stated that it will not negotiate the timing of the referendum until the end of negotiations on Brexit.
Monday, March 27, Theresa may and Nicola Sturgeon was found in a hotel in the Scottish city of Glasgow. During hours of negotiations, the first Minister of Scotland, insisted that the people of Scotland needed a referendum on independence before the British exit from the European Union. She explained that the Scots themselves should choose their own path. Theresa may told her that “now is not the time” for a referendum. Mei believes that leaving the EU is a great opportunity to strengthen relations between all citizens of the country.
Later, Nicola Sturgeon described the meeting as “sincere” but expressed disappointment that Mei has not made concessions on the referendum. Sturgeon said that Mae expects the next year or two clearer future relationship of the UK and EU. Sturgeon said: “I answered that I want the Scots made a conscious choice when the conditions on Brexit will be clear”. Mei assured the Sturgeon that the terms of the contract Brexit TBD 2018-2019.