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"Here are Scotland's terms. Lower your flags, and march straight back to England, stopping at every home you pass by to beg forgiveness for a hundred years of theft, rape, and murder. Do that and your men shall live. Do it not, and every one of you will die today."
William Wallace (c. 1270–1305) 11 September 1297, Battle of Stirling

Scotland - Move to Independence

Nicola Sturgeon quit as Scottish first minister on 15 February 2023, saying her dominance over her party and the country was no longer the asset it once was in the fight for an independent Scotland. The 52-year-old, who has been first minister since 2014, also said she would stand down as leader of the ruling Scottish National Party (SNP), saying a fresh face would have a better chance of reaching across the political divide, and that she had become too divisive - and too tired - to lead that fight any more. She would stay in place until a successor is found.

Sturgeon's SNP suffered a blow in November 2022 when the United Kingdom's top court ruled that her Scottish government could not hold a second referendum without approval from the British parliament. Successive Conservative governments in London have said the 2014 referendum was a once-in-a-generation decision and could not be repeated so soon. Sturgeon said in response that she would turn the next British general election into a de facto referendum to ramp up pressure on London to grant another vote.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced plans for a second referendum to be held on Scottish independence in October 2022, promising to take legal action to ensure a vote if the British government tried to block it. Sturgeon said on Tuesday that the Scottish government, which is led by her pro-independence Scottish National Party, would publish a referendum bill later, outlining plans for the secession vote to take place on October 19, 2023. “What I am not willing to do, what I will never do, is allow Scottish democracy to be a prisoner of Boris Johnson or any prime minister,” Sturgeon told lawmakers in the devolved Scottish Parliament.

On 14 June 2022 Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon launched a campaign for a second independence referendum, unveiling what she said was a “refreshed” case for the country to break away from the rest of the United Kingdom. Sturgeon is a scathing critic of Johnson and the UK’s departure from the European Union – a move opposed by a majority of voters in Scotland – and has said she wants a new referendum to be held before the end of 2023.

Sturgeon, who heads the devolved government and leads the Scottish National Party (SNP), said that it is the right time to revisit the question, eight years after a majority of Scots voted in favor of remaining aligned with England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The paper – titled Independence in the Modern World – Wealthier, Happier, Fairer: Why Not Scotland? – argues that Scotland is similarly sized to several other European countries that are outpacing the UK both economically and in terms of societal wellbeing.

“Scotland under Westminster control is being held back,” Sturgeon said, citing a moniker for the UK’s centralised government in London. “With independence, we too would have the levers and the autonomy that these countries take for granted to help fulfil their potential,” she said.

The SNP had previously ruled out an unsanctioned ballot on separation, which would effectively end hopes of EU membership. Instead, the Scottish government had petitioned ministers in London to permit a second referendum. Those efforts were currently fruitless — but that could change after the Scottish Parliament elections in May 2021. Pro-independence parties won a majority in the Scottish Parliament, which Sturgeon said gave her an “indisputable democratic mandate” to push ahead with plans for a rerun of the vote. The SNP victory evoked the precedent of the 2014 referendum, because that was conceded by the British government after the SNP won a majority in Holyrood, the Scottish Parliament, with a clear manifesto commitment to seek an independence referendum.

Scotland has already come a long way since 2014. A great deal of nation building has been done in the years since the last referendum. For example, in Revenue Scotland, Scotlan now had a tax agency, and in Social Security Scotland, a social security agency. Scotland also had the independent Scottish Fiscal Commission and the Scottish National Investment Bank. In other words, substantial parts of the institutional infrastructure that an independent country would need, and which did not exist in 2014, are now in place.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson wrote to Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on 13 January 2020 refusing her request to be given the powers to hold another Scottish independence referendum. Sturgeon, leader of the Scottish National Party, had stepped up the battle for an independence referendum, writing to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to request a second vote on the issue and seeking a transfer of powers to hold another vote from London to Edinburgh.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon stated 14 October 2019 that the time is ripe for an independence referendum in Scotland. "Our job is to deliver independence. My call is that the referendum must happen next year. And we are getting ready", Sturgeon told reporters at the conference in Aberdeen. "Before the end of this year, I will demand the transfer of power that puts the legality of a referendum beyond any doubt", she added. She further elaborated that Westminster denial on the independence referendum is "unsustainable". Sturgeon also noted that a vote for her party is a vote for an independence referendum, adding that any party that the SNP supports in Westminster would have to respect Scotland's right to hold a vote on the matter.

The statement came after the SNP chairwoman earlier said that she was going to ask for British Parliament’s approval to carry out another independence referendum, as the Brexit outcome remains unknown. Meanwhile, support for Scottish independence has risen to a record 50%, showing a five-point increase from a poll last-year, according to a recent Panelbase survey for The Sunday Times Scotland.

An opinion poll published 18 June 2019 of ordinary Conservative members suggested they were ready to see the break up of the United Kingdom with Scotland and Northern Ireland peeling off as a result of a no-deal BREXIT departure. According to the survey conducted by the YouGov pollster, 63 percent want Brexit to go ahead even if it means Scotland decides to break away to restore its independence, and 61 percent favor leaving even if it means significant economic damage. A slim majority are ready to endorse Brexit even if it ends up destroying the Conservative party itself.

While the Eurosceptic Brexit Party emerged as the clear winner in the United Kingdom's branch of the European elections in May 2019, voters in Scotland sent a clear message of their own. As the Brexit Party, established only weeks earlier by the ardent anti-European Union Nigel Farage, the former head of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), swept the board in England and Wales, the pro-EU Scottish National Party (SNP) topped the poll in nearly every constituency in Scotland. Amid a slump in support for Scottish Labour - once the party of dominance in Scotland - the SNP secured three of the six allocated Scottish seats in the EU-wide European vote. First minister and SNP leader, Nicola Sturgeon, celebrated her pro-independence party's "historic" victory in the poll, and maintained that Scotland had "rejected Brexit again" as it increased its seat representation by one.

Across the UK, 73 European seats were up for grabs. While the SNP won half of Scotland's designated half-dozen seats with 38 percent of the vote, the Brexit Party, which mustered less than half that, at 14.8 percent, also took a seat. The third-placed Liberal Democrats (13.8 percent), and Conservatives (11.6 percent) likewise took one seat each. The Scottish Labour party, which was forced into fifth with 9.3 percent, lost both of its representatives, including David Martin, who was Britain's longest-serving elected EU parliamentarian.

On 27 May 2019, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon added flesh to the bones of the IndyRef2 commitment: "There will be another Scottish independence referendum and I will make a prediction today that Scotland will vote for independence and we will become an independent country just like Ireland, and the strong relationship between our two countries now will become even stronger soon. I want to see Scotland having the choice of independence within this term of the Scottish Parliament, which ends in May 2021, so towards the latter half of next year would be when I think is the right time for that choice". So September or October 2020 will see Scotland presented with the chance to claim her freedom and status as a normal independent nation.

Scottish independence appeared off the agenda after the SNP suffered losses in Scotland in the 08 June 2017 general election. The Tories and Labour both took seats from the independence-supporting SNP. The nationalists had swept the board in 2015, winning 56 of the 59 seats up for grabs, but in 2017 gained only 35 seats. Former leader Alex Salmond was among a number of big names to lose seats to Labour and the Conservatives. The prospect for a second independence referendum in Scotland appears more unlikely than at any point since the June 2016 EU referendum thanks to the SNP’s poor showing at the polls.

Scotland's Parliament voted 28 March 2017 to seek a new referendum on independence from Britain, clearing the way for the country's first minister, its top lawmaker, to ask the British government to approve such a vote. The legislature in Edinburgh voted 69-59 to seek Britain's parliamentary endorsement, which is required, for a referendum that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wanted to hold within two years — before Britain had completed its departure from the 28-nation European Union.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said 12 March 2017 she will seek authority for a new independence referendum once the terms of Britain's departure from the European Union are clear. The vote could take place in 2018. "If Scotland is to have a real choice - when the terms of Brexit are known but before it is too late to choose our own course - then that choice must be offered between the autumn of next year, 2018, and the spring of 2019," Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said.

The results of the 23 June 2016 referendum divided the UK with Scotland voting to remain in the EU by 62 percent. A majority in Scotland’s devolved parliament at Holyrood backs breaking up the United Kingdom. Scotland’s government on July 11, 2016 demanded a second referendum on independence following Britain’s vote to leave the European Union. Recent polls showed a majority of Scots support breaking away from the rest of Britain so that Scotland can remain in the EU, an indication that many of those who voted against independence in the referendum two years earlier had switched sides since the 'Brexit' vote.

With 62 per cent of Scottish people voting to Remain in the 23 June 2016 Breixt referendum, Scotland was taken out of the European Union despite its vote to remain. Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland's First Minister, had previously stated that demand for a second independence referendum could be "unstoppable" if taken out of the EU against its will. A second Scottish independence referendum is should take place before Britain leaves the European Union, Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said. Scots rejected independence from the rest of the United Kingdom by 55 to 45 percent in a 2014 referendum, but since then Sturgeon's pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) surged, winning several elections.

Scotland voted 18 September 2014 against breaking away from the United Kingdom and becoming independent. Tallies from all 32 Scottish councils show that 55.3 percent of voters were in favor of remaining part of Britain compared with 44.7 percent for independence, a wider margin than anticipated after a record 97 percent turnout. The result of the referendum was welcomed by other governments around the world battling secessionist movements. But in London, it heralded a complex road ahead as other regions of Britain demand greater autonomy. For the pro-independence camp it was a narrow but crushing defeat. For the UK government in London, a moment of relief.

The parliaments of England and Scotland voted for the Act of Union in 1707 under which they were united into a single kingdom called Great Britain. But the Scots are Presbyterians, and the strong egalitarianism and independence of the highlander reflected in the prevailing forms of religious belief and practice. The English are Church of England, a strongly hierarchical church. As of 2014 Labour held 41 of Scotland’s 59 constituencies, yet the Prime Minister at Westminster is a Tory.

On October 15, 2012 British and Scottish leaders signed a deal on a referendum that could lead to Scotland's independence. British Prime Minister David Cameron and Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond signed an agreement Monday in Edinburgh that finalizes details for a vote on whether Scotland should become an independent country or stay within the United Kingdom. The vote would come in September of 2014, ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for 2016. Cameron's meeting with Salmond in the Scottish capital followed months of negotiations. The British prime minister opposed a breakaway, but agreed it was up to the Scottish people to decide their future in a vote.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said February 16th, 2012 he was strongly opposed to the idea of Scotland's separation from the United Kingdom during a visit to Edinburgh. Cameron told the Scottish parliament Thursday that he will fight to keep the United Kingdom together. “My argument is simple. Of course Scotland could govern itself. So could England. My point is that we do it so much better together.”

The 2007 Scottish Parliament and local government elections represented the breakthrough for the SNP. After the Scottish National Party (SNP) was elected to power, there was a concerted push for increasing independence from the UK, as well as for asserting its powers under the Scotland Act. For instance, the SNP repeatedly called for referendums on Scottish independence. In May 2011, Salmond and the SNP unexpectedly won an historic landslide victory giving the nationalists majority control of the Scottish parliament, enabling the first minister to demand an independence referendum. Salmond has said that after 300 years of English rule, Scotland's full independence could bring the country more prosperity through renewable energy, such as harnessing the power of wind. A 2014 vote would coincide with the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, a Scottish victory over the English. Salmond said the date is purely coincidental. Salmond wanted to delay the vote for several years so the independence movement in Scotland can gain momentum.

The 18 years of Tory government shifted Scottish attitudes towards devolution between 1979 (when just over 50 per cent of voters backed a Scottish legislative assembly) and 1997 (when nearly 75 per cent did). The prospect of another extended period of Tory rule bolstered the nationalist argument that independence is a necessary bulwark against the English right. Scottish political culture is defined by its anti-Conservatism, with Labour as the most reliable safeguard against the Tories at Westminster and the SNP as the most effective advocates of Scottish interests from an Edinburgh base. But Tony Blair was a natural heir to Thatcher, and the New Labour are pro-trident, pro-market and privatisation, pro-war, pro-student fees etc, etc. Most Scots oppose the renewal of Trident. In 2007 Tony Blair’s unpopularity in Scotland helped propel the SNP to power at Holyrood for the first time.

In 1999 a Scottish parliament was established at Holyrood, sited next to the Queen's Scottish residence in Edinburgh. Following approval of referenda by Scottish and Welsh voters in 1997, the British Government established a Scottish Parliament and a Welsh Assembly, both of which were launched in 1999. Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland now each have legislative and executive bodies that legislate on and administer many matters, though there is significant variation in the extent of powers enjoyed by each of the devolved governments.

The devolved governments have taken over many of the functions previously performed by the Scottish, Welsh, and Northern Ireland offices, whose primary purpose now is to coordinate between Westminster and the devolved administrations and to represent their interests in non-devolved matters. Scotland has always maintained different systems of law (Scots Law), education, local government, judiciary, and national church (the Church of Scotland instead of the Church of England).

The Scottish government budget is currently funded by the UK Treasury and many financial powers are reserved. Scottish MPs can vote on English policies at Westminster but English MPs cannot vote on devolved Scottish policy at Holyrood [ the “West Lothian Question”]. In 1977, in a House of Commons debate on devolution, Tam Dalyell – MP for West Lothian – first asked how long English MPs and their constituencies would tolerate MPs from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland voting on purely English matters at Westminster. Fellow MP Enoch Powell later called it the “West Lothian Question” after Dalyell refused to let the issue drop.

According to public opinion polls most Scots want neither independence nor the status quo, but ‘devo max’, ‘Home Rule’ or ‘full internal self-government’ under which Scotland would be self-financing but remain within the UK, sharing services like defence and foreign affairs. It can also be known as "indy lite". A survey released in October 2012 reported that only 28 percent of Scots support independence. But under the deal between Salmond and David Cameron to stage the independence referendum, known as the Edinburgh agreement, there will be only two options on the referendum: the status quo or independence. British Prime Minister David Cameron is betting the Scots will choose the status quo as the nearest thing to Home Rule. Scotland's first minister Alex Salmond bets on Scots regarding independence as the nearest option to Home Rule.

On 01 November 2012 the British Government issued a statement that "This government has confirmed it does hold legal advice on this issue. Based on the overwhelming weight of international precedent, it is the government's view that the remainder of the UK would continue to exercise the UK's existing international rights and obligations and Scotland would form a new state. The most likely scenario is that the rest of the UK would be recognised as the continuing state and an independent Scotland would have to apply to join the EU as a new state, involving negotiation with the rest of the UK and other member states, the outcome of which cannot be predicted."

An independent Scotland would find it “difficult, if not impossible” to gain EU membership and obtain the acceptance of other EU member states, according to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. “In case there is a new country, a new state, coming out of a current member state, it will have to apply and... the application and the accession to the European Union will have to be approved by all the other member states of the European Union,” Barroso said in an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on 16 February 2016. Barroso was skeptical that other states will want to offer support for their desired EU membership bid. “We have seen that Spain has been opposing even the recognition of Kosovo, for instance, so it's to some extent a similar case because it's a new country and so I believe it's going to be extremely difficult, if not impossible, a new member state coming out of one of our countries [getting the agreement of other existing EU member states].”

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond hit back on 17 February 2016 at claims that an independent Scotland may find it extremely difficult to gain European Union (EU) membership. Salmond rebuffed Barroso's argument by saying that failing to recognize the democratic will of Scotland would "pose a challenge to the integrity of the European Union even greater and more fundamental than the threat of British withdrawal.... "A European Union which has admitted so many countries from all points of the European compass will find a pragmatic way to accommodate the expression of democratic will from Scotland,"" Salmond quoted Graham Avery, Honorary Director General of the European Commission, as saying.

The debate over whether Scotland should become independent could cause unforeseen consequences for those Britons who live south and west of the Scottish border. People intending to vote yes in the referendum in Scotland in September hoped to see the Saltire as the sole ensign across the country. Given that the background color of the Union flag is blue, and it’s blue because of Scotland, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to have a blue background when the national flags of the remaining parts of the United Kingdom, if Scotland becomes independent have no blue in them – then they probably would want a new flag. That’s not to say that the Union flag itself would actually disappear because the Union Flag came into existence before we had a United Kingdom. It came into existence in 1606 and we didn’t have any form of a United Kingdom until 1707; so, the flag itself might actually still exist, maybe for use on royal warships, which is what it originally came into doing.

People are looking at all the different symbols of England, Wales and Northern Ireland and working out which bits aren’t represented. So, for instance, Wales isn’t represented in the Union flag at all because it’s considered to be part of England. If Scotland leaves, maybe it’s time for Wales to get a representation; maybe change the background colour to green; some people suggested putting red dragons on it; other people have gone for the Welsh Christian flag which is St David’s flag, which is a gold cross on a black background – others suggested maybe a black background with gold around one of the crosses.

A new survey published 20 April 2014 showed Scotland could be on the brink of winning independence from the UK ahead of a historic referendum to be held on September 18. According to the independent ICM poll for the Scotland on Sunday newspaper, support for independence stands at 39 percent with the No vote on 42 percent. The results confirmed a growing trend showing the gap between yes and no voters has narrowed considerably since the referendum campaign began last year. The survey also revealed for the first time that English-born voters living in Scotland could play a critical role in the outcome, with only 28 percent of them prepared to back Scottish independence. If only the votes of those born in Scotland were considered, the results would show a lead for the pro-independence Yes-campaign.

A poll conducted by YouGov just one week ahead of the vote put the pro-UK campaigners on 52 percent, compared to 48 percent for the pro-Scottish independence campaign. Recent polls showed a lead for the ‘No’ campaign has melted away and the two sides were neck-and-neck. If the majority of Scots vote for independence, then on March 24, 2016 Scotland will secede from the United Kingdom.

England and Scotland shared the same monarch since 1603 – the Union of the Crowns in one person. The 1707 Acts of Union formed one new “United Kingdom”. The Scottish government’s prospectus for independence states that “On independence, Scotland will be a constitutional monarchy, continuing the Union of the Crowns”. Members of First Minister Alex Salmond’s separatist Scottish National Party (SNP) government said that if independence won it would be up to the people to decide whether to keep the queen. The independence campaign’s chairman Dennis Canavan called for an early referendum on dumping the matter, calling hereditary monarchy an “affront to democracy and a complete anachronism”. The queen’s 15 realms outside Britain – Australia, Canada and New Zealand included – have a governor-general and some suggest Scotland would likewise need a governor-general.

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