22nd Feb 2020


Scotland prepares for life after referendum

  • A 'referendum cafe' in Glasgow might soon be replicated in other EU cities (Photo: Valentina Pop)

With its shop windows displaying a big Yes and a big No, the "referendum cafe" in Glasgow is an unusual place.

"I was also surprised that nobody had come up with this idea so far," says Simon Jones, one of the three co-founders of the business.

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The 24-year old journalist says the cafe aims to offer a place for people to talk about politics, but without the bias of the two campaigns in favour of and against Scottish independence.

"We are crowdfunded, we are not paid by the Yes or No campaign," Jones said.

The referendum cafe project managed to raise 1,500 pounds (€1,880) on Indiegogo, a crowdfunding site, which will pay the rent and provide materials for its workshops and debates until the end of October.

"We want to keep it open beyond that, maybe with funding from trusts or foundations, or even the EU. This is an important project for democracy," Jones said.

Registered as a charity and with volunteers offering cake and coffee to the people who come in, the cafe helped poorer people in the area get an idea about the referendum on Thursday (18 September), as well as the practicalities of life beyond the vote.

A board game with chocolates - blue for true, red for false - shows several political statements and tests where voters would stand on the issues. "Scotland won't be in Europe as an independent nation", was one of the statements, which gathered two "false" replies.

(Photo: Valentina Pop)

"If there's a Yes, there will be plenty to debate - how to deal with the oil - we hope the money will be used for renewable energy. It's also possible that [UK PM] Cameron resigns, so a deal will have to be agreed quickly, probably over the week-end before markets open on Monday," Jones said.

But even if there is a No, the UK will never be the same again: Cameron has promised to give more powers back to Scotland, while Wales and England may ask for a similar treatment.

The UK Independence Party (Ukip), Cameron's nemesis, is already cranking up English nationalism, which may result in a further loosening of the British state.

As for an independent Scotland, warnings abound on how long it will take and how difficult it will be for it to rejoin the EU.

The leader of the Socialists in the European Parliament, Gianni Pitella, said the process will take "years" and will be delayed by EU countries worried about their own independence movements.

"It is clear Scotland’s admission to the EU will not be as automatic and easy as Yes supporters claim,” Pittella said in a statement.

But even if the process takes a long time, it is unlikely for any other country to block Scotland indefinitely once the UK has recognised its independence.

In the case of Kosovo, five EU countries (Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia and Spain) still haven't recognised its independence. But if Serbia will recognise its independence one day, it is hard to imagine that these EU countries won't follow suit.

Meanwhile, the campaigning intensified over the past few days, with latest polls still suggesting the result will be too close to call, with the No camp ahead at 52 percent, while the Yes is projected at 48 percent - within the error margin.

(Photo: Valentina Pop)

The No camp meanwhile got a boost from former US President Bill Clinton who said Scotland should stay in the UK: "Unity with maximum self-determination sends a powerful message to a world torn by identity conflicts that it is possible to respect our differences while living and working together."

(Photo: Valentina Pop)

Campaigners will have a last push on Wednesday to get the undecided on their side.


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