Political Odds: Brexit Spurs Scottish Independence

Theresa May strongly opposes independence
Photo credit: Donkey Hotey, CC BY-SA 2.0 [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0], via Flickr

Earlier this week, Scottish National Party (SNP) leader Nicola Sturgeon announced that she will push for a second Scottish Independence referendum, aiming for a vote sometime between fall 2018 and spring 2019.

The 2014 independence referendum fell just short, with 55% of Scotland opting to remain in the UK. One of the key motivators for staying in the United Kingdom was the threat of an independent Scotland being kicked out of the EU. But now with Brexit underway, much of Scotland wants to rethink its decision.

As a whole, 52% of UK voters were in favor of Brexit (52%), but 62% of Scotland voted to remain in the EU.

The proposed dates for the next Scottish independence vote coincide with the date set for Brexit negotiations between the UK and European Union.



As expected, the proposed vote has come under fire from Prime Minister Theresa May and conservative Scottish MPs. With all the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, the last thing May wants now is more division. But the Brexit vote has left Scotland with an outcome they voted against, and it may move them to vote more favorably for independence the next time round.

If Scotland does vote for independence, it’s not guaranteed that they will be granted EU membership. As an independent nation, Scotland will have to go through the process of applying for membership just like any other country. The EU could guarantee Scotland membership if they become independent, but that would set a dangerous precedent. EU members like Spain have long held off separatist movements from Catalonia and the Basque Country. Guaranteeing Scotland membership could reignite calls for independence.

At the moment, Scotland remains divided on the issue of independence. The polls show the country slightly in favor of remaining in the UK, but all that could change depending on the terms and the roll-out of Brexit.

We’re still a long way away from any referendum, but here are the odds as things stand.

Scottish Independence Odds

Odds on the outcome of the next Scottish independence referendum

For Independence: 2/3
Against Independence: 3/2

Odds on the date of the next Scottish independence referendum

2017: 19/1
2018-2020: 2/3
No referendum before year-end 2020: 13/7

Odds Scotland votes for independence by year-end 2024: 2/3

Odds the EU guarantees Scotland membership before the next independence referendum: 40/1