Scotland: A New Referendum?

Scotland’s First Minister Announces Initiative for an Independence Referendum


In September 2014, the people of Scotland were given the opportunity to decide on their future in a referendum with the purpose of determining whether the country would continue to be part of the United Kingdom or become an independent state. The turnout of 84.6% meant that more people voted than in any UK election or referendum organised since the introduction of universal suffrage. However, Scotland’s attempt to secede from the Kingdom failed, with 55% voting against and 45% in favour of the proposed independence.

In the meantime, much has changed on the political scene of the UK, as in June 2016 the British people stated their desire to leave the European Union. In the so-called Brexit referendum, Scotland firmly opposed the initiative, voting 62% to 38% in favour of the Remain campaign. The general result, supporting the exit from the EU with 52% to 48%, started the legislative process for leaving the Union, the latest major event of which was the passing of the Brexit bill in the UK Parliament. This will allow the British government to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which will in turn start formal negotiations with the EU.

Last week, following the adoption of the bill, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon made a speech in which she expressed her intention to hold a new independence referendum, emphasising the country’s European orientation which had been previously proven by the outcome of the Brexit vote. The First Minister mentioned that the referendum would take place between the autumn of 2018 and the spring of 2019, before it is “too late” and after “the terms of Brexit are known”, a time that would coincide with the planned conclusion of Britain’s negotiations with the EU. Speaking at her official residence, Bute House, First Minister Sturgeon stated that Scotland stands at “hugely important crossroads”, and that the Scottish people should have the right to choose between a ‘hard Brexit’ and an independent country. Later, she also made it clear that Scotland would apply for EU membership in case it obtains its independence in the referendum.

Nevertheless, Nicola Sturgeon’s plans have been met with resistance by Prime Minister Theresa May, who responded that the Scottish initiative is inappropriate at a time when Great Britain is going through significant changes. She also mentioned that the people of Scotland would need a bigger picture of Britain’s future before they can vote on such matters. This approach might ultimately shatter Sturgeon’s dreams of a referendum, given the fact that Scotland will need to obtain permission from the British Parliament in order for the vote to take place.

First Minister Sturgeon will now ask the Scottish Parliament for approval regarding her plans for the referendum, after which an order will be requested from London that would allow Scotland to vote for its independence once again.


English-German glossary:

turnout (ˈtɜːnaʊt) = Beteiligung

universal suffrage (ˌjuːnɪˈvɜːsl ˈsʌfrɪdʒ) = allgemeines Wahlrecht

attempt (əˈtempt) = Versuch

to secede (sɪˈsiːd) from sth = aus etw austreten

to state (steɪt) = erklären

to oppose (əˈpəʊz) sth = sich etw widersetzen

to pass (pɑːs) sth = (hier) etw verabschieden

bill (bɪl) = Gesetzentwurf

to trigger (ˈtrɪɡə(r)) = auslösen

in turn = wiederum

to emphasise (ˈemfəsaɪz) sth  = etw betonen

outcome (ˈaʊtkʌm) = Ergebnis

terms (tɜːmz) = Bedingungen

to coincide (ˌkəʊɪnˈsaɪd) = zusammenfallen

crossroads (ˈkrɒsrəʊdz) = Scheideweg

inappropriate (ˌɪnəˈprəʊpriət) = ungeeignet

approach (əˈprəʊtʃ) = Ansatz

to shatter dreams = Träume platzen lassen

approval (əˈpruːvl) = Genehmigung