At the beginning of August, Liz Truss, the candidate in the British Conservative leadership race, was clear about the relationship she intended to maintain with the Scottish prime minister.
So it’s no surprise that two weeks later, when Liz Truss and her opponent Rishi Sunak showed up in Perth, Scotland, for a campaign event, they were greeted by protesters.
shame on youCan we hear again and again from the mouths of these independence supporters, many of whom are flying the flags of Scotland or the European Union.
In the front row, in front of the security barrier, are two young women: Inez, a lifelong separatist, and her friend Laura, who recently changed her mind about the issue.
We have to take this risk, it’s the only way to get rid of this conservative governmentShe says, illustrating the hostility many independence activists feel toward the London government and its conservative policies.
Britain’s exit from the European Union, a turning point
In September 2014,
no He won the Scottish independence referendum with 55.3% of the vote.
Eight years later, an opinion poll was published in August in the newspaper Sunday times It shows that the Scottish population remains deeply divided, with 49% of voters supporting independence today, versus 51% who would oppose it. This same sounding shows that the choice in favor of remaining in the UK will drop to 48% if Liz Truss wins the race to lead the Conservative Party.
According to Christian Allard, former MP for Scottish National Party (SNP) In the Edinburgh Parliament and European Parliament, the Brexit vote in 2016, two years after the Scottish independence referendum, inflamed nationalist sentiment among many Scots.
Although the United Kingdom as a whole narrowly supported leaving the European Union (EU), in Scotland 62% of voters wanted to remain in its membership.
” We didn’t have a campaign that talked about the status quo, which said, “But things are as they are, they will stay that way.” Two years later, Scotland left the European Union against its will. And yet? We see the economic conditions here, an economic disaster, with conservative governments more populist than conservative. »
Referendum or not?
In June, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced her desire for a second referendum on Scottish independence. Scheduled date: October 19, 2023.
However, she will have to face a huge obstacle. Unlike in 2014, London refused to hold a referendum, a position championed by the two contenders for the premiership, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak.
” It’s frankly crazy for politicians to try to focus on an unnecessary and divisive constitutional referendum at a time when people are worried about heating their homes. »
According to University of Aberdeen Professor Emeritus Michael Keating, in this context, a vote similar to what was done eight years ago is
In the absence of an agreement from London, Prime Minister Nicolas Sturgeon has turned to the courts first and is even considering making the next general election a referendum.
How will the exercise actually take place?
We are in a period of great uncertaintyMichael Keating answers.
Even if Scotland stays within the United Kingdom, the expert on questions of nationalism notes that the chasm separating London and Edinburgh continues to widen politically.
Whether at the regional or national level, the Scottish National PartyEnjoying the support of both separatists and national voters, it remains a dominant political force.
acting Scottish National Party
- In Edinburgh: 64 out of 129 MPs
- In London: 48 out of 59 Scottish MPs
Meanwhile, the two main national parties, the Conservatives and Labor, are struggling to win over the Scottish voters.
” There is a loss of knowledge of what is happening. Without a presence in Scotland, they do not know the terrain well and do not know how to play the political game in Scotland. »
Moreover, very few Scots are invited to choose the UK’s next prime minister, whose identity will be revealed on Monday.
As this is a contest for the leadership of the Conservative Party, only members in good standing can vote.
According to a study by Professor Tim Bell, Queen Mary University of LondonOnly 6% of the party’s 160,000 members live in Scotland, compared to 56% who live in London or the southeast of the country.
So, without much support in Scotland, the UK’s next prime minister will have to contend with the Edinburgh government’s independence ambitions, while managing an inflationary and energy crisis of a magnitude unparalleled in decades.
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