Less than two months have passed since the UK officially left the EU, but one problem after another has been emerging in London. The dispute between Scotland and the British government over how to handle a post- Covid reopening is a main point of contention between the two sides, once again leading to the culmination of independence talks in the region.
The UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced the gradual reopening of public places in parliament a few days ago. He unveiled his four-step roadmap to return the country to normalcy after completing the vaccination of nine vulnerable groups. The reopening phases will begin on 8 March with schools and end on 21 July with the lifting of all coronavirus restrictions. Boris Johnson says Britain is on a one-sided journey to freedom. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will each determine their own reopening schedules. The new roadmap announced by the prime minister prioritises jobs based on their function and necessity for people’s livelihood. According to the cabinet, schools are expected to open mid-March and people can have multi-person meetings outside the home. The government had previously declared the opening of bookshops as unnecessary; but, these are now said to be one of the first to reopen in mid-April based on first- and second-class necessities.
Scots Are Conducting the Post-Coronavirus Reopening Independently
Scotland’s dispute with Boris Johnson’s government over how to reopen jobs and training centres has led to a resurgence of hostilities and the two sides have taken a hard line against each other. Scottish officials are calling for a faster and more comprehensive reopening plan than is set out in the said roadmap. The British plan comes as the First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon has already announced that bookshops are a must-have in the country. She says that the country is looking to significantly reduce its coronavirus restrictions as from 26 April. Boris Johnson believes that if the reopening is sudden, it could lead to a resurgence of infections which will be out of control. This has led to rising tensions.
The Scots Are Seeking a Referendum Without the Necessary Permits
A few days ago, the Scottish National Party (SNP) revealed a roadmap to a second independence referendum without the permission of Boris Johnson’s government. SNP officials have promised to vote on a bill to hold a referendum on secession from the UK after the end of the pandemic if they win the local elections. According to a Lucidtalk poll, Scots expect the region to become independent in 10 years. Scotland’s first referendum on independence was held in 2014 and 55% of people voted to stay in the UK. Following Britain’s secession from the EU, Scotland has been pushing for a second independence referendum. Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland and Leader of the SNP, is stepping up pressures to hold the referendum. With Scotland’s parliamentary elections approaching in May, the independence referendum has become a political indicator for parties in the region. While the referendum is legally possible only with British permission, Scotland intends to file a lawsuit in the British High Court to scrap the permit. Meanwhile, reports indicate increased support for Scottish independence. According to a survey conducted in the summer of 2020, this has increased to 54%. Scottish officials believe that leaving the EU has cost Scotland many jobs and that Prime Minister Boris Johnson has agreed to a so-called hard Brexit. Sturgeon said it was unbelievable that in the midst of a pandemic and financial downturn, Scotland would be forced out of the single market and customs union with all the damages it did to jobs. Scotland has not voted for any of these, and our position is clearer than ever. Scotland now has the right to choose its future as an independent state and to reap the benefits of EU membership.
Scottish Authorities Are Still Trying to Hold a Second Referendum on Independence from the UK
A second independence referendum is likely to be held in Scotland by the end of this year. Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, Europe and External Affairs, Michael Russell, says Scotland’s second referendum could take place six months after the June referendum bill is approved. According to him, if the SNP wins the election again in May, the party will unilaterally pursue the referendum even if Boris Johnson opposes it. First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, has already said that she will hold a referendum if she is re-elected. The Scots say that the situation has changed now that the UK has left the EU despite opposition by the majority of Scots, and that demands for secession from the UK has increased among the Scottish people.
Boris Johnson Is Trying to Dissuade the Scots from their Decision to Secede from the UK
At the height of demands for Scottish independence and the warning of experts about the danger of British disintegration, the prime minister went to Scotland despite severe restrictions imposed by the coronavirus to work to maintain British unity. The leader of the SNP, Nicola Sturgeon, said that Boris Johnson’s visit to the region was unnecessary under the circumstances and that political leaders should set an example. What kept England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland interdependent during the aftershocks caused by the Brexit and Johnson’s weakness to control the coronavirus, it has weakened. Polls suggest that a majority of Scots are calling for an independence referendum to end the 314-year-old alliance with the UK. At the same time, Nicola Sturgeon has criticised Boris Johnson’s visit, calling it unnecessary. Johnson had previously said that not all referendums are considered happy events because they are not in the interest of national unity; they should only happen once every generation. The SNP, which supports the region’s independence from the UK, has called on Boris Johnson to pay the Scots billions of pounds in damages caused by the UK’s exit from the EU.
Scotland and Northern Ireland, both pro-independence, voted against an exit from the EU. According to SNP leaders, the consequences of Brexit on the people of this region are similar to economic theft. Boris Johnson’s visit to Scotland to support British unity comes amid growing numbers of Scots seeking independence from the UK, but it looks unlikely to work in the end as the Scottish economy is facing great difficulty due to the divorce from the EU. This has persuaded the Scots to move towards independence and re-membership in the EU as soon as possible.
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