Scotland-- Another Brexit Complication
When the U.K. voted to leave the European Union, the results were fairly close-- 17,410,742 votes to leave (51.9%) to 16,141,241 to stay (48.1%). It wasn't that close in Scotland, however, where most people wanted to remain in the EU. This was the breakdown in the U.K.'s constituent parts:
• England: leave- 53.4%, stay 46.6%London also voted to remain in the EU. The city has 32 boroughs-- ten for Inner London and 20 for Outer London. All of Inner London voted to stay and only 5 boroughs voted to leave, all boughs on the edge of the city-- Havering,Barking and Dagenham, Bexley, Sutton, and Hillingdon. Bet you never stayed in any of them. Boroughs you're probably familiar with-- as a tourist or businessperson-- wanted nothing to do with the Brexit movement. Westminster, for example, voted 53,928 to remain and 24,268 to leave. Kensington and Chelsea voted 37,601 to stay, 17,138 to leave. Camden was 71,295 to stay, 23,838 to leave. Lambeth was 111,584 to remain, 30,340 to leave.
• Scotland: leave- 38.0%, stay 62.0%
• Wales: leave -52.5%, stay- 47.5%
• Northern Ireland: leave 44.2%, stay 55.8%
But London isn't threatening to secede from the U.K. and stay with the EU. Scotland, however, is. Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon warned that unless they can stay in the EU-- without England, Wales and Northern Ireland-- they'll hold a new independence referendum. Monday she wrote an OpEd for the Financial Times that must have driven U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May bonkers. "This week," she wrote, "the Scottish government will publish proposals aimed at securing Scotland’s place in Europe, and specifically our continued place in the EU’s single market."
Our hope is that the UK will remain within the single market. The advantages of doing so are clear and obvious. Unfortunately, the rhetoric emanating from a UK government that appears ever more in thrall to hardline Brexiters does not inspire great optimism that this option will be chosen.Meanwhile, Theresa May's government is furiously tap-dancing around the complex and divisive Brexit question. She's now talking about a transitional period to allow UK businesses to adjust and assures the Brexit fanatics that it is neither a stalling tactic nor part of a strategy to rob them of their referendum win. Her Conservative government says it expects to complete withdrawal negotiations and set out future trading arrangements with the EU within two years after triggering Article 50 and that she's not backing a bid to give Parliament a final vote on whether to implement Brexit or not.
If the UK government opts not to remain in the single market, our position is that Scotland should still be supported to do so-- not instead of, but in addition to free trade across the UK-- and the paper we will publish will outline how that could be achieved. This would involve the devolution of new powers to Edinburgh. Not remaining in the single market would be deeply economically damaging for Scotland, with independent analysis from the University of Strathclyde’s Fraser of Allander Institute suggesting up to 80,000 jobs would be a lost over a decade.
...The political reality is that Scotland, by a decisive 24-point margin, chose to remain in the EU, with voters in every single one of the country’s 32 local authority areas opting to remain.
It remains my view, and that of the government I lead, that the best option for Scotland remains full membership of the EU as an independent member state. Indeed, had we already achieved such status we would not find ourselves in our current situation, facing being taken out of Europe against the strongly expressed view of our electorate.
As such, independence must remain an option for safeguarding our European status, if it becomes clear that our interests cannot be protected in any other way.
Therefore, the proposals we will publish this week involve a substantial degree of compromise on our part. It is hoped they will find a similarly open mind from the UK government, who have already pledged to consider them. Theresa May, prime minister, has given that explicit undertaking, so a failure to properly engage would represent a breach of faith.
To be clear, it is not the Scottish government’s position that we expect to negotiate directly with the EU institutions or other member states. Rather, our intention is for the proposals to be agreed with the UK government, which will then take them forward as part of their overall negotiating position around Article 50.
However, while we will not be formally negotiating with EU partners, we will continue to engage with them. So it will also be for governments and others across the EU to consider our proposals and how they might be implemented. In doing so, they should know that they come from a nation deeply rooted in the best traditions of European solidarity and co-operation, and from a country which is determined to protect its place in Europe.
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