express– On January 1, the post-Brexit transition period expired, meaning EU rules no longer apply in Britain. It is a new chapter for the country’s national history – but not everyone in the UK has given up on EU membership. Despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson rejecting her independence demands, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wants to hold a second referendum as soon as the coronavirus pandemic is over.
Since 2016, the SNP leader has been trying to build support for independence on the back of Brexit.
In a recent column for the Irish Times, Ms Sturgeon wrote: “We are now faced with a hard Brexit against our will, at the worst possible time in the middle of a pandemic and economic recession.
“It will mean disruption in the short term, while establishing new long-term barriers.
“Our people will be less safe and their right to work, study and live elsewhere in Europe will be restricted.
“This includes the loss of Erasmus, which saw more than 2,000 Scottish students, staff and learners use the scheme each year.
“It is therefore not surprising that a consistent majority of people in Scotland now say they are in favour of becoming an independent country.”
While polls suggest support for independence has indeed slightly grown, maps detailing the strength of 2014’s Yes/No vote and the 2016 EU referendum across the nation suggest Brexit might have not been a key factor.
Scots voted to stay in the EU by 62 percent to 38 percent in 2016 and to remain in the UK by 55 percent to 45 percent in 2014.
However, there was a significant difference in turnout in both referendums: 84.6 percent for the independence referendum against 67.2 percent for Brexit.
This means a greater number of people in Scotland actually voted against independence.
2,001,926 voted to remain in the Union in 2014 while only 1,661,191 voted to remain in the European Union.
Looking at the result of both referendums by region, it becomes even more evident that Scots felt way more strongly about staying in the UK than leaving the EU.
In Aberdeenshire, 60.36 percent voted No in 2014 and only 55 percent voted for Remain two years later.
In the Scottish Borders, 66 percent voted No and 58 percent voted for Remain.
Dumfries & Galloway voted 65.67 percent against independence but 53.1 percent in favour of the EU.
In the Orkney Islands, 67 percent voted to remain part of the UK and 63 percent to stay in the European Union.
In an entry for the London School of Economics (LSE)’s blog, Sean Swan, a Lecturer in the Department of Political Science at Gonzaga University, insisted Brexit has not been a game changer for Scottish independence for three distinct reasons.
He explained: “First, because independence, unlike (or at least more so than) the EU issue touches more readily on questions of national identity.
“The national identity of voters is both an emotional and deep-rooted phenomenon, which was set to a large extent during the 2014 referendum and is not easy to shift.
“Second, the EU has so far failed to meaningfully reach out to Scotland following the EU referendum.
“Faced with an uncertain situation, some Scottish voters are opting for the safety of the status quo by staying within the UK.
“Finally, Brexit is becoming normalised.
“As events move on, the desire to rock the boat by pushing for independence may diminish among some Scottish voters.”