Scotland planning new referendum

In view of an impending hard Brexit, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wants to give the Scots another chance to vote on independence from the UK. British Prime Minister Theresa May promised to take into consideration the interests of the Scots, who want to remain in the EU, but she has done nothing of the sort, Sturgeon maintains. For the press both sides are taking excessive risks.

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Die Welt (DE) /

Sturgeon taking a big gamble

In 2014, 55 percent of Scottish voters cast their ballots against separating from the UK. That they would vote differently in a new referendum is far from certain, Die Welt comments:

“The idea of Scotland becoming an EU exclave in the north strikes fear into the hearts of many Scots - all the more so if oil prices remain ruinously low, subsidies from London are discontinued and the country is compelled to convert to the euro. Consequently there are those saying that Sturgeon doesn't really want the referendum but simply wishes to maintain political control and force May to pursue a less 'hard' Brexit. A risky game considering how tough May's stance has been so far. Despite the parliamentary blockades the prime minister may give the starting signal for the two-year Brexit process as early as Tuesday, as planned. Then the clock will be ticking, also for the future of Scotland and Nicola Sturgeon.”

Financial Times (GB) /

May plunged into political dilemma

The British prime minister faces the choice of disappointing either the Scots or the anti-Europeans in the Brexit negotiations, the Financial Times observes:

“Mrs May cannot sign off on hard exit terms without risking the loss of Scotland, three-fifths of whose electorate voted for the EU. Such terms would not just threaten material harm to a small, trading economy, they would communicate England’s hauteur to the smaller nation. But if Mrs May softens her line, she must forgo the right to make external trade deals (to stay in the customs union) or accept free movement (to stay in the single market). The first would be death to her governing vision, the second would be unsurvivable. ... In the end, she must incite anti-Europeans or she must incite Scots. It is small consolation that around a million voters are both.”

La Stampa (IT) /

Anger over Brexit fuelling national pride

A rekindled national pride could prompt the Scots to disregard the economic disadvantages of Scottish independence, British journalist Bill Emmot explains in La Stampa:

“If Scotland had to rely solely on its own tax revenues its budget deficit would amount to roughly 15 percent of its GDP. So an independent Scotland would have to raise income tax and VAT as well as other taxes simply to keep state benefits at their current level. But nationalism is a strong sentiment. The resentment over Westminister's firm resolve not just to leave the EU but also to leave the single market and the customs union has enraged the Scots. They prefer a soft Brexit with the UK remaining in the single market to a hard Brexit. The idea of Scotland going its own way as an independent nation in the EU has reignited the sense of national pride.”