On Monday, Nicola Sturgeon upstaged Theresa May on the day of the Article 50 vote with her announcement outlining her intention to begin the process for a second Scottish independence referendum.
Recent figures from the annual Scottish Social Attitudes survey puts support for Scottish independence at an all-time high of 46%, although this would still not be enough to win a referendum.
In reality, Scottish independence has never been off of the agenda since the 2014 referendum. The angle on the latest push for Scottish secession is the use of Brexit and the possibility of Scotland retaining membership of the EU as a vehicle to drive this. Since the vote to leave the EU last year, Sturgeon has plugged the notion of Scotland being able to obtain a ‘special deal’ with the EU that would allow Scotland to stay in the Single Market.
It has been an intriguing power play between Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon. When voting on independence in 2014, the possibility of Brexit had already emerged within Parliament.
The independence referendum was, in the words of Alex Salmond, a “once in a lifetime vote”. With the possibility of Brexit hardly a secret when Scotland voted to remain wedded to the United Kingdom, it was a vote “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, through sickness and in health”.
In the days following the EU referendum, Nicola Sturgeon was publicly snubbed by senior figures within the EU, including Donald Tusk, when travelling to Brussels to seek talks about Scotland’s post-Brexit status. Many EU countries have also said they are not willing to engage with the SNP, including the Spanish Government, from which the SNP previously demanded an independence referendum for Catalonia.
Economically, Scotland would struggle to meet the conditions of membership of the EU. If it were an independent country, Scotland runs a higher spending deficit than any other EU member including Greece, something that categorically would scarper any hopes of acceptance as a member. Even in the event they were able to join with such a high spending deficit, Scotland would likely be forced to impose an Irish or Greek style austerity package, something directly against the anti-austerity rhetoric of the SNP.
Should however, Sturgeon succeed in delivering independence after another referendum, she will no doubt face a difficult road ahead. Should Scotland again vote to remain a part of the UK, place your bets on an SNP push for IndyRef3!