Brexit result raises prospect of new Scottish independence vote

Scotland votes overwhelmingly to remain part of the European Union

Ballots are counted at the Glasgow count centre at the Emirates Arena, Glasgow, Scotland,  after polls closed in the referendum on whether the UK will remain in the European Union.  Photograph: Robert Perry/AFP/Getty Images

Ballots are counted at the Glasgow count centre at the Emirates Arena, Glasgow, Scotland, after polls closed in the referendum on whether the UK will remain in the European Union. Photograph: Robert Perry/AFP/Getty Images

 

Scotland is highly likely to hold a second independence referendum, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Friday, adding she would do what was necessary to secure the country’s place in the European Union after Britain voted to leave the bloc.

“It is a statement of the obvious that the option of a second referendum must be on the table and it is on the table,” she told reporters. “I think an independence referendum is now highly likely,” she added.

“I want to make it absolutely clear today that I intend to take all possible steps and explore all options to give effect to how people in Scotland voted, in other words to secure our continuing place in the EU and in the single market,” she said.

Scotland votes Remain

As Britain voted to leave, Scots overwhelmingly chose to remain part of the European Union in Thursday’s referendum. All 32 of Scotland’s local authorities voted to stay.

Almost three-quarters of voters in the capital, Edinburgh, voted to stay in the EU. Glasgow voted by 168,335 (67 per cent) to 84,474 (33 per cent) in favour of remain.

Overall, Remain won more than 60 per cent of the votes in Scotland.

Turnout at 67.2 per cent, was slightly lower than the rest of the UK but higher than last month’s Scottish parliament election.

Former First Minister Alex Salmond warned the Scottish National Party was likely to push for another Scottish independence referendum on the back of the leave vote.

Areas that had voted ‘yes’ in the 2014 Scottish independence referendum all returned large remain majorities.

In West Dunbartonshire almost 62 per cent backed remain, while in Dundee support was over 59 per cent. Polls in Scotland had consistently shown a majority for staying in Europe, while the picture in the rest of the UK was leaning towards leave.

Former SNP leader Mr Salmond said Brexit could lead to another referendum on independence.

“Scotland looks like its going to vote solidly Remain. If there was aLeave vote in England, dragging us out the EU, I’m quite certain Nicola Sturgeon would implement the SNP manifesto,” Mr Salmond told the BBC in the early hours of the morning.

Ms Sturgeon, had long said that a vote for Brexit against Scotland’s wishes could trigger a second independence referendum. She said the result made clear what Scotland wanted.

“Scotland has delivered a strong, unequivocal vote to remain in the EU, and I welcome that endorsement of our European status. And while the overall result remains to be declared, the vote here makes clear that the people of Scotland see their future as part of the European Union,” she said.

Ahead of May’s Scottish Parliament election the SNP manifesto said that the Scottish Parliament should have the right to hold a second independence referendum if there is a “significant and material” change in circumstances such as Scotland being taken out of the EU against its will.

Labour campaign

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said that her party had fought “a very aggressive” campaign.

“A big part of this campaign has been dominated by immigration and whenever the issue of immigration has come up there has been a sense of the polls tightening, that that’s an issue that people have very strong views on.

“There are no easy answers to that. There certainly weren’t any answers on the ballot paper today,” Ms Dugdale said at the count in Glasgow.

“I’m very proudly pro-EU, very proudly pro-immigration. There’s a fantastic value to that in our country but obviously some people have deep concerns about the impact that has on their communities.”

Humza Yousaf, SNP minister for transport and the islands in the Scottish government in Edinburgh, said: “It’s been an excellent campaign for us on the streets, our activists have never let us down.

David Coburn, leader of Ukip Scotland, rejected suggestions that the referendum result demonstrated growing political differences between Scotland and the rest of the UK.

“All this nonsense that the SNP has been peddling for years aboutScotland being a stripped pine sauna republic is jus so much hooey,”Mr Coburn said.

“The Scottish national party leadership are completely out of touch with the ordinary people of Scotland and most certainly with their own members.”

Scottish political commentator Andrew Tickell said that the referendum result showed that Scotland and England had fundamentally different views on Europe.

“In 2015 we discovered that we get the government that England votes for. Today we discover we get the internationalism that England is prepared to put up with and that is a very narrow internationalism,” Mr Tickell told the Irish Times.

Additional reporting Reuters