By announcing Monday that it will launch a new independence referendum, Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon has brought back one of the most feared consequences of Brexit: the breakup of the UK.
As London approaches the exit of the European Union, Scotland wants to remain there, and dreams, again, of independence. For if the British voted 52% in favor of a divorce with the EU in the historic referendum of June 23, 2016, the Scots had voted 62% to remain in the European fold.
Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon, fiercely hostile to Brexit, particularly on leaving the single market, said on Monday that it would ask next week for authorization to hold a referendum for independence in late 2018 or early 2019 .
“I think it’s important that Scotland is in a position to decide on its future,” she said.
The head of the independence movement SNP has been repeating since June that an exit from the EU would justify the organization of a new consultation, after that of September 2014, won by the “no” (55%) and lived as A missed rendezvous with history by the nationalists.
The announcement was taken short in the UK, intervening at the same time as Parliament is about to give the final green light to the Brexit trigger.
According to Mark Diffley, Scottish director of the Ipsos Mori Institute, the very popular Mrs. Sturgeon nurtures “the hope that by leading a campaign very different from that of 2014, as we head towards a hard Brexit, she will succeed in Convince enough voters. ”
A “conditional” referendum?
Nicola Sturgeon, 46, whose thirty years of nationalist militancy, had prepared the ground last week justifying the organization of a referendum in the fall of 2018.
“I think that when the kind of agreement the UK has reached on the exit of the European Union country becomes clear, it would be a logical date … if this is the path we choose to take “She said on the BBC.
The Scotsman will, however, have to overcome a whole series of obstacles.
Starting with the opposition of Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May. “The people of Scotland deserve a prime minister focused on their priorities” and “not a narrow nationalism,” she said in early March in Edinburgh.
Downing Street reiterated this position Monday in a statement condemning “a factor of division” intervening “at the worst possible moment”.
But can Theresa May really prevent a new referendum? This would take the “risk of pushing public opinion into the arms of independence,” Mark Diffley said.
The most likely option, he develops, would be for the Prime Minister to give a new vote under “conditions”, requiring, for example, “that it not take place before the Brexit agreement is Concluded “with the EU, ie not before 2019.
Nicola Sturgeon, who is likely to take up his post with this consultation, will also have to secure the support of an opinion not yet fully prepared to take the plunge, even if support for independence is progressing (48% of Scots BMG survey released Monday).
It will finally have to present a solid and ambitious economic project for Scotland, which had a deficit of 15 billion pounds (17.4 billion euros) for the 2015-16 financial year, in particular as a result of the mature The North Sea oil fields and the impact of falling world prices.
But the independentists feel supported by a series of electoral victories since 2015.
“I am for independence, because England, led by Westminster (the seat of power in London), is going in a direction that is not Scotland,” says Ian Greenhalgh, a SNP activist from 52 years.
Others believe that the government is not fulfilling its promise made in the 2014 referendum to make Scotland an “equal partner” if it opted for retention in Her Majesty’s kingdom.
“We’ve been promised a lot,” says Paul Fraser, a 45-year-old SNP activist. “And in the end, we are carried away by the xenophobic wave that sweeps across the UK. I believe that Scotland has everything it needs to be a country that is fair to all. “