Will Scotland leave the UK?

After the Scottish National Party (SNP) under Nicola Sturgeon won a clear victory in regional elections in the UK, the question of Scottish independence, which the SNP is campaigning for, is firmly back on the agenda. Europe's press discusses the lines of conflict in terms of money, power and identity.

Open/close all quotes
Deutsche Welle (RO) /

Please not another dependant for the EU

For the European Union, the accession of an independent Scotland would certainly not be a cause for celebration, argues Deutsche Welle's Romanian service:

“The return of the Scots and the separation [of the EU] from England would mean that the EU has not only lost a net contributor, but that it gains a net recipient - the Scots would have to be supported from the budgets of the wealthy countries on the continent. Depending, that is, on how many wealthy ones are left at the point. Because there might not be that many of them soon, after the massive damage the massive pandemic restrictions have done to the middle class and small and medium enterprises.”

Echo24 (CZ) /

Divorce after 300 years difficult

The main arguments against Scottish independence are economic in nature, Echo24 points out:

“Opinion polls show how undecided the nation is. Three hundred years of fusion between the two economies have created so many economic ties between Scotland and England that crossing a red line would be very damaging - especially to the much smaller Scottish economy.”

Politiken (DK) /

The Czechs and Slovaks got through separation

Scottish independence need not lead to disaster, Politiken comments:

“From an outsider perspective, it would be neither desirable nor particularly felicitous if the English and Scots were no longer together. But it is not necessarily a disaster. The Czechs and Slovaks also separated in a reasonably calm and orderly manner. ... In the EU we have no interest in promoting a break-up of Britain. But we do have a very strong interest in assuring the Scots that they are welcome in the EU and should decide their own fate. Just as the UK did with Brexit.”

elnacional.cat (ES) /

Banning elections not very democratic

The website elnacional.cat, which is pro-Catalan independence, looks on with interest:

“Sturgeon has a clear mandate from Scottish citizens to hold a new independence referendum as soon as the pandemic allows it. And she has a clear mandate to use all legal means at her disposal to make this referendum - which British Prime Minister Boris Johnson opposes - happen. It's interesting to read the opinion of Kirsty Strickland in the unionist paper 'The Scotsman'. She writes that the Lib-Dems, Labour and Tories would do well to focus on persuading citizens to vote No in the referendum rather than preventing it being held. There are indeed countries where banning elections is not considered very democratic.”

The Sunday Times (GB) /

Win the Scots over with direct investments

Johnson would do well to ignore the Scottish calls for more independence, The Sunday Times advises:

“Too many Labour and Tory governments have believed that appeasing the nationalists by bunging them extra powers would kill off the demand for separation. Instead, all that tactic has done is to increase the nationalists' fervour for going the whole hog and breaking up Britain. The message coming out of Downing Street thus far seems, thankfully, to be completely different, with the Prime Minister backing plans for significant infrastructure spending on road and rail links between Scotland and England. Furthermore ... The Treasury plans to continue spending directly on Scottish projects rather than funnelling the cash through the SNP government in Edinburgh.”

NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

Economic arguments are not enough

The Brexit has clearly highlighted the fault lines in the UK, NRC Handelsblad comments:

“If there is a new referendum, supporters of the UK would have to make clear to the Scots just what the advantages of separating from the EU were. Johnson's response to this election result is a summit to which he has invited the first ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to demonstrate 'unity and cooperation' in dealing with the consequences of Covid-19. But he'll have to do more if he wants to save the Union. A purely economic line of argument was clearly not enough in favour of membership of the other Union, the European Union. The question all Britons must answer is: what else unites the United Kingdom? ”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

A job for the Supreme Court

The impasse can only be solved through the courts, writes Alexander Mühlauer, London correspondent for Süddeutsche Zeitung:

“In order for a legally binding referendum to take place, Sturgeon needs London's approval. Since Prime Minister Boris Johnson will probably continue to refuse, the question of Scottish independence will no doubt end up before the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. Only this court can ultimately settle the question of who may decide Scotland's future.”

VTimes (RU) /

All about power and benefits

VTimes believes that the quest for independence on the part of Scottish politicians is nothing but a pretext:

“The referendum is a façade, behind it lies a more refined game of haggling between unionists and Scottish nationalists for new powers and advantages for the region within the UK. ... The Scots themselves go back and forth on the subject of independence, which is why the SNP's strategy on this issue is undogmatic. It feels much more comfortable as a regional party seeking more say for its region in the British political system. And to best play that role it occasionally throws on a separatist garb.”

Wiener Zeitung (AT) /

Emotionally charged power politics

The focus on independence benefits Johnson just as much as it does Sturgeon, the Wiener Zeitung posits:

“Like Brexit, the idea of an independent Scotland is carried by moods and emotions, but it's based on economic irrationality. ... The SNP has created a power base in the North that pursues only one higher goal: Scottish independence. It need not fear serious political competition: the SNP will only stumble over its own mistakes. Until then, the Conservatives are the perfect bogeyman to ensure the nationalists' cohesion. ... A perfect constellation for both Johnson and Sturgeon when it comes to maintaining power. The main thing is that everyone talks about Scotland's potential independence.”