Nicola Sturgeon has been vocal about her desire for Scotland to be given a second opportunity to hold an independence referendum in the coming years. The First Minister demanded Boris Johnson give his permission for a vote through a so-called Section 30 order but has been repeatedly rebuked. Prof of Territorial Politics Nicola McEwan suggested Mrs Sturgeon is unlikely to push her luck with a rogue referendum because of two major concerns.
Speaking at an online event of the UK in a Changing Europe think tank, Prof McEwan said: “It is quite clear Nicola Sturgeon does not want to proceed with a referendum that isn’t through the similar consensual process that was there in 2014, and for a very good reason.
“One is she doesn’t want to recreate a situation in Scotland that we’ve seen in Catalonia where even if you have a majority of yes votes, it’s not recognised by either the UK Government or the international community.”
Catalonia, an autonomous region in northeast Spain, held an independence referendum in October 2017 which resulted in a majority win for supporters of a break from Madrid.
But the unauthorised vote was condemned and declared illegal from the central government, which led a swift crackdown of the Catalan political echelons behind the referendum.
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Prof McEwan warned the prospect of lengthy negotiations could also keep the SNP leader from pushing ahead with her demands for independence.
She continued: “And we’ve seen from the Brexit referendum that winning a vote is only the very first step in a long process of negotiated transition to a new constitutional settlement.
“Relationships will have to be built and maintained anyway, under whatever constitutional settlement.”
And despite repeatedly calling for more financial powers to handle the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, Mrs Sturgeon has been told Westminster will maintain control of the economic recovery.
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SNP MP Tommy Sheppard quickly hit back at Mr Rees-Mogg, stressing that smaller nations have “proven more agile and effective” in tackling the economic repercussions of coronavirus.
Mr Sheppard said: “Now we hear from many Cabinet members that Scotland’s salvation is due to the strong arms of the union, implying that only big countries can deal with the pandemic.
“But that is not true, in fact, many small countries have proven more agile and effective.
“But if the leader does believe this, can he explain why support for Scotland becoming an independent country is now running at 54%, an all-time historic high?”