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Scottish Independence, a key tenet of Nicola Sturgeon’s reelection bid, has once again graced headlines across the UK. Several polls emerged today which painted growth in support for the independence movement, flipping the results of 2014. But questions remain as to how likely it is, polls don’t necessarily indicate an actionable referendum.
How likely is Scottish independence?
The Scottish independence referendum of 2014 briefly quelled support for separation from the UK, with results indicating 55 percent of people wanted to remain in the union.
Only 45 percent of people voted for emancipation, relegating the issue to fringe advocates until 2016.
The following EU referendum showed overwhelming Scottish support to remain in the bloc, which has caused a growing rift with England.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon seems primed for another local election win, and one of her hopes is to take Scotland out from Westminster control.
Her proposal has gathered increasing support, as a new poll from market research firm Savanta ComRes revealed 55 percent of people now support giving Scotland independence.
The data will only serve to bolster efforts by Nicola Sturgeon to carry out another referendum, but she may find it tough to deliver one.
The legislation which allowed Scotland to carry out the 2014 vote, known as a section 30 order, only granted the country temporary powers to make the results legally binding.
In addition, when Westminster devolved more matters north of the border in 1998, local leadership agreed they could not legislate on “the Union of the Kingdoms of Scotland and England”.
Thus, any future referendums would need to take place with the permission of the Prime Minister.
Theresa May and Boris Johnson have both ruled another one out, and the current Prime Minister branded the 2014 vote “once in a generation”.
Writing to the First Minister in January of this year, Mr Johnson said: “You and your predecessor made a personal promise that the 2014 Independence Referendum was a ‘once in a generation’ vote.”
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“The people of Scotland voted decisively on that promise to keep our United Kingdom together, a result which both the Scottish and UK Governments committed to respect in the Edinburgh Agreement.
“The UK Government will continue to uphold the democratic decision of the Scottish people and the promise that you made to them.
“For that reason, I cannot agree to any request for a transfer of power that would lead to further independence referendums.”
But the situation has markedly shifted since 2014, and now Scots will end up subject to the same Brexit rules as the rest of the UK.
Further impending economic woes has likely intensified calls for independence, with locals seeing it as a choice between that and Brexit.
Nicola Sturgeon said she hoped for a 2021 vote after a clear path for the UK out of the EU has emerged.
The timing would “allow an informed choice to be made”, but whether it will happen remains to be seen.
If the UK Government gave its assent, Downing Street would have the power to decide when it would take place.
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