If Scotland eventually goes Brexit may have given it a hefty shove out the door

I’ve always left the speculation as to what happens to Scotland after Brexit to others. Mostly because it will be dictated by what Brexit eventually looks like (if it happens at all). But this is interesting from the level headed Chris Deerin the New Statesman’s Scotland editor:

…in the 2016 referendum, 62 per cent of Scots voted to remain, and almost no politician of any standing campaigned to leave. The narrow UK vote for Brexit, dictated by a much larger English population, was a stunning display of southern might. It also highlighted a growing divergence in values and aspirations.

In the 1980s there would have been just as much frustration, but today’s Scotland is different. It has a muscular devolved parliament that has replaced Westminster as the most prominent forum for public debate and the main focus of media coverage. It has a first minister, a cabinet and an elected opposition. It is used to taking its own decisions at its own pace. It has an enhanced sense of what it is, what it wants, and what it doesn’t.


The oldest argument in politics is “who governs?” It is the key question Brexit asks of Scotland. More than matters of economic subsidy, currency and legacy debt, it forms the basis of national identity and self-respect. It is the very reason the Scottish Parliament was set up 20 years ago – to address the sense of democratic deficit that lingered after the Thatcher years.

The issue before Scots now is: is devolution enough? Does it do the job? Consequently, the argument for independence is becoming detached from party loyalty and fellow-feeling because, given current behaviours, these are proving harder to access.

It no longer has much to do with the SNP, or whether you like Nicola Sturgeon, or what Alex Salmond did or didn’t do. Brexit pushes us beyond concern about the economics, and into broader considerations of self-respect, legitimacy and a simple desire to engage with the rest of the world on our own terms.

If this view gains enough momentum, it is potentially undefeatable.


Photo by Erik Nielsen is licensed under CC0