The Scottish government is determined to hold another independence referendum. Scotland wants to control its resources and future without submitting to Westminster’s decisions. Regarding the country’s political and economic competence, can Scotland afford to be independent?
Brexit Disintegrated the UK
The European referendum results of 2016 exposed striking differences of ideas among the nations of the UK. England and Wales voted to leave the European Union, while Northern Ireland and Scotland supported the EU membership. Dissatisfaction with following London’s Brexit program has raised the question of the integrity of the United Kingdom. With the dominant position of the Nationalists in Scotland, the idea of independence has been vigorously raised after 2016. The Scottish National Party (SNP) has secured the majority of MSPs in Holyrood after an agreement with the Greens. Although in 2014 the Nationalists did not win an independence referendum, now they push for a second referendum. The UK government does not agree with another referendum. Nevertheless, Scotland has asked Westminster to allow the vote. The Scottish government intends to secure a referendum and works on its details, but can Scotland afford to be independent?
Scotland Is Rich and Smart
Through the last six decades, most people of Scotland rejected to vote for the Conservative party in the general elections. They have repeatedly had Conservative governments at Westminster, not according to their will. The SNP believes an independent Scotland can form a fairer, more prosperous country based on Scots’ will. The SNP’s belief that Scotland has what it needs to go alone raises the question: can Scotland afford to be independent?
Scottish government reminds some of the best world universities, talented people and best research centres are there. Scotland is influential because of its economic size, the richness of natural resources, highly educated people, innovation and strength of services and manufacturing. The government refers to the examples of Denmark and Norway as less populated countries that are happier with social equality. Scotland is an affluent, bright, and less populated country; however, can Scotland afford to be independent?
Scotland Posses Rich Natural Resources
According to the SNP, Scotland’s annual income in 2019 was 177 billion pounds. That means Scotland is even wealthier than rich countries like New Zealand and Japan. Moreover, this small country has extraordinary energy resources. Scotland possesses natural oil and gas in the North Sea and owns massive sources of renewable energy. With substantial natural resources, can Scotland afford to be independent? The SNP says Scotland is among globally high-quality goods and products exporters. Its food and drink sector and manufactured products are high quality with top consumer standards. The SNP says Scotland has innovative and talented people that want to take their future into Scotland’s hands. Based on an official document by the Scottish government, this country owns thriving creative industries. Scotland has a global reputation in the life sciences and tourism industry. Therefore, there are various sectors of economic resources, which is more than enough for an independent Scotland.
Fairer and Better Life in an Independent Scotland
The Scottish government wants to have powers to boost its competitive position and support more innovation. With innovation and novel decisions, can Scotland afford to be independent? Many decisions by the UK government are not the best for Scotland and hold back Scottish progress. With its global reputation and economic strength, Scotland should have everything in its own hands. With financial and political power, SNP can create jobs, grow the economy and concentrate more on Scotland. There have been political, social and economic uncertainties during recent years in the whole UK.
Nonetheless, the SNP believe the people of Scotland will live better and fairer in an independent country. Brexit has been bitter for Scottish businesses because Scotland did not vote to leave the EU and cut the trading links. However, rejoining the European Union would help Scotland be in the Eurozone and restore trade with the EU partners.
Scotland Suffers Economic Deficit and Recession
On the contrary to the SNP’s standpoint, some experts do not see Scotland as capable of being an independent country. They say Scotland’s deficit has increased in recent years after Brexit and Covid-19 pandemic. By losing the EU membership, Scotland has been economically affected, and by a coronavirus, it experienced a worldwide recession. Furthermore, Scotland’s great hope of economy, which once was oil and gas, is no longer a safe source of income. The global price of oil has dropped in recent years, and Scotland is committed to net-zero emissions. The Institute for Fiscal Studies published a report in 2021 which said Scotland’s budget deficit increased between 22 per cent and 25 per cent of national income for 2020–21. The Scottish government underestimates the depth of independence austerity and the probability of hard borders. With the time needed to recover its economy, can Scotland afford to be independent?
Rejoining EU Is Long Process
The Scottish government plans to restart work on Scottish independence once the Covid-19 pandemic is over. It is not easy to go back to the EU, and Scotland should apply and undergo a long process. When Scotland applies for membership, the European Commission would evaluate many factors then will respond. The European Commission would assess whether Scotland is well-functioning democracy, a good economy and capable of taking on the EU’s laws. Like any new member, the EU may require Scotland to commit to joining the euro. But Scotland has suggested continuing to use the British pound as an EU member. In addition, the EU would make sure Scotland becomes a net contributor to its budget and not a fiscal problem. More importantly, the EU may not simply accept Scotland to rejoin the bloc because the EU does not want Scotland to be an example for other separatists in Europe.
The Scottish nationalists have been pushing more for independence from the United Kingdom after the Brexit referendum. Although the first independence referendum in 2014 was not favouring nationalists, they asked for another vote. Scotland is a country that has been one of the four-nation nations in the UK for more than three hundred years. Now Scotland feels it is better out of the Union, but can Scotland afford to be independent? There are diverse opinions about Scotland’s capabilities as an independent country. There are good universities, valuable research centres, a competent workforce and talented people in Scotland.
This country has enormous natural resources and is less populated than many other countries. Services and products in Scotland are of high standards and are exported to the four corners of the world. Independent Scotland could have foreign investments and more international trades. But it is a long process to be independent and to rejoin the EU. Scotland could experience austerity and may wait for a while to recover its economy. Although Scotland owns the political and economic strength to be an independent country, the procedure which it should pass is not an easy and quick task.