Explainer: A fractured kingdom – Scotland’s paths to independence

LONDON (Reuters) – Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s promise to take Britain out of the European Union next month could jeopardise a much older union: the United Kingdom which binds together England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

FILE PHOTO: Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson poses for a photograph with Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at Bute House in Edinburgh, Britain, July 29, 2019. Duncan McGlynn/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

After centuries of dreams about independence, Scottish nationalists now see Brexit as their ticket to secession, and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is due to set out the case for a new independence referendum this week.

Her Scottish National Party (SNP) won 80 percent of Scotland’s seats in the UK parliament in last week’s general election, but Johnson’s government has repeatedly said it will reject any demand for another referendum.

Johnson says the question of Scottish independence was settled in 2014 when voters rejected independence by 55% to 45% in what was described as a once-in-a-generation referendum. Nationalists disagree.

Below are some of the paths to Scottish independence:


Scottish nationalists argue that the politics of England and Scotland are diverging and that Brexit fundamentally changes its constitutional arrangements.

Every region of Scotland voted to stay in the EU in 2016, while the United Kingdom as a whole voted to leave. Any economic damage from Brexit could fuel Scottish discontent.

As the law stands, to hold another referendum legally, Scotland needs the permission of the British parliament.

Sturgeon plans to submit a formal request to demand those powers, under Section 30 of the Scotland Act, to ensure any vote was legal.

However, the government has said it will reject any request.

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