If there is one thing Scotland does not need today, it is another hot take on First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s #indyref2 announcement. As such, I will keep this post short.
The speech by Sturgeon today, in both tone and content, was something I found difficult to fault. Now, as a Yes voter in 2014 and Remain voter in 2016, I would say that, wouldn’t I? Probably. Standing that, it did chime with much of what I wrote about #indyref2 earlier this year, and the trigger event for this referendum is one I wrote about in the aftermath of the 2014 referendum.
There are, of course, a few questions to resolve. In no particular order, and non-exhaustively, I offer:
- What are the legal and political ramifications of whether or when Theresa May’s UK Government will consent to a referendum, after the inevitability of Holyrood mathematics pushes #indyref2 through the Scottish Parliament?
- When exactly in the Brexit process will the referendum fall? (In another episode of life imitating art, the satirical website The Daily Mash summed up the optimum scenario for Scottish independence pretty accurately.)
- What will the #indyref2 franchise be?
Bodyswerving the known unknowns in my question 1 for now, I will offer a combined observation on questions 2 and 3.
Having a referendum before Scotland leaves the EU strikes me as not only important to open up the opportunity of Scotland (in effect) never leaving the EU, but it is also pretty important for reasons connected with the referendum franchise. EU citizens (and, for that matter, 16- and 17-year-olds) were able to vote in the 2014 indyref but not* the 2016 EUref. The electorate in Scotland was still 62% Remain notwithstanding that exclusion. If that voting bloc is included in a plebiscite which: a) determines whether the place where they live stays in a political union they identify with; and b) offers a chance to express an opinion that the 2016 EUref did not, one can but imagine which way such a bloc would incline. (I would love to see some polling data on this.) For what it is worth, and for reasons explained by my colleague Dr Heather Green better than I can (under the heading “Comment“), I am all for those in this voting bloc having a say in a decision affecting the place they call home.
That is my tuppence worth. Assuming that the tuppence is the currency we will be using, of course.
*Not all EU citizens were excluded. Irish, Cypriot and Maltese citizens were able to vote on grounds unconnected to EU citizenship.