Sunday

18th Nov 2018

Independence question raised again in Scotland

  • Independence is a hot topic for Scotland's around 5 million-strong population (Photo: EUobserver)

The question of Scotland's eventual independence from England returned to the fore on Tuesday as the leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) outlined plans for a referendum on ending union with England.

SNP leader Alex Salmond tabled a paper in Edinburgh on what he called a "new chapter in Scottish politics."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

He called for a "national conversation" towards a referendum that would offer either the political status quo, more powers for Scottish parliament or complete independence.

However, UK media report that the final outcome is likely to be a compromise allowing more powers to the Scottish parliament.

Mr Salmond has power as he is the first minister in the Scottish parliament but his party does not have a majority.

Most of the other MPs in the parliament are not in favour of full independence while support among the public for the idea is around 30 percent.

The topic is a hot issue in Scotland however, which has been in union with England for 300 years but which continues to have a separate legal system.

At the moment, Scottish parliament has some say on education and health but defence and foreign policy are dealt with by Westminster.

The 'national conversation' website on the whole independence question, officially opened by Mr Salmond on Tuesday, already has over 600 comments.

Many of the comments are in favour of independence or at least supports putting the question to Scottish people. Some, however, feel the SNP should be concentrating on more immediate issues.

"My concerns are in the price of fuel, council tax, healthcare, policing and short term job contracts as the norm," said one contributor from Cumbernauld.

The SNP wants to table a bill on the issue and then hold a vote on it in 2010 - however Mr Salmond appeared to concede this was only a hope rather than an actual fixed timetable.

"I would hope we can arrive at a position where these matters will be tested in 2010" he said, adding "Remember, Rome wasn't built in a day, not even 100 days."

The SNP paper suggests that independence from Britain would not mean a complete split.

Rather than a constitutional union, it would take the shape of a "monarchical and social union."

If the Scots were ever to vote in favour of independence, it would raise certain legal questions for the EU such as whether it would have to formally apply for membership and whether it would be legally obliged to join the euro - an obligation for all new EU entrants.

Other questions like its voting weight for taking decisions and the issue of a possible Scottish commissioner would also have to be worked out.

Such a scenario would likely also fuel other regions in Europe such as Spain's Catalonia.

Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot

Authorities in Budapest confirmed the former prime minister of Macedonia, fleeing a jail sentence in his own country, has filed for asylum. Despite Hungary's strict asylum laws, the pro-Kremlin politician was not turned away.

Merkel calls for 'real, true' EU army

Angela Merkel's much-anticipated speech to the European Parliament was brief and to the point. Her message: Europe is alone in the world, the EU should be more united on defence, but not on the economy.

EU action on Hungary and Poland drowns in procedure

EU ministers' discussion on how to address rule of law issues in Poland and Hungary gets stuck on procedural issues, while Viktor Orban's government claims it is a target of the Brussels elite because of its anti-migration stance.

EU's centre-right make Weber their man to replace Juncker

The centre-right EPP party's congress wanted to show unity - but divisions remain after the political alliance lined up behind Germany's Manfred Weber as their 'Spitzenkandidat' ahead of next year's European election.

News in Brief

  1. US warns EU banks and firms against trading with Iran
  2. Merkel urged Romania not to move embassy to Jerusalem
  3. Protesters call for Czech leader to step down
  4. Former German chancellor labelled 'enemy' of Ukraine
  5. French lead opposition to Brexit deal on fisheries
  6. Private accounts of Danske Bank employees investigated
  7. UK's May defends Brexit deal to MPs, after ministers resign
  8. Brexit MP calls for 'no confidence' vote on May

Opinion

On Armistice Day, EU is still best gift we can give our children

While young people fought each other in 1918, young people in 2018 travel to study together under the Erasmus programme. But there is a risk of limiting our commemoration to representing the past through just speeches, museum exhibits and visits.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Brexit dominates EU affairs This WEEK
  2. How the EU commission got tunnel vision on self-driving cars
  3. No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt
  4. Key points of the Brexit deal (if it ever comes into effect)
  5. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism
  6. US steps in to clean up Cyprus
  7. 'Decisive progress' on Brexit as British cabinet backs deal
  8. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us