The UK’s vote narrowly to leave the EU was not uniform across the country. For example, in London, nearly 60% of people voted to remain in the EU. In Scotland, 62% voted to remain. And in Oxfordshire, nearly 57% of people wanted to stay.
However, in the post-referendum fall-out, it seems only one of these areas may be given a chance to remain part of the EU. It is likely that the Scottish government will now seek to hold yet another referendum on Scottish independence, sold as a way for Scotland to remain in the EU. The question is, why should people in Scotland be given this choice, while those of us who live in other pro-EU parts of the country are denied the same opportunity?
How can anyone who claims to support democracy, and who believes in not being isolationist, think that the answer is to go it alone, to abandon the rest of the people in the UK who share the same view? It’s “I’m all right, Jack” mentality. Surely democracy is universal? Everyone should be given the same chances to vote on the same issues.
The referendum question was whether the UK should remain a member of the EU. There is no mention of Scotland or any other part of the UK. Even if Scotland were to become independent and to be allowed to join the EU (which is far from certain), the 62% of Scottish voters still would not be getting what they voted for. They voted to the UK to remain in the EU. As over two thirds of Scottish exports are to the rest of the UK, but only about 15% to the EU, leaving the UK in favour of the EU would appear to be a rash decision. It is actually in Scotland’s best interest for the whole of the UK to remain in the EU, or at least the single market. It’s therefore slightly heartening to see this morning that Nicola Sturgeon has suggested the Scottish Parliament could block the UK’s exit from the EU. The people of London and Oxfordshire would be grateful for that.
The irony is that Scottish nationalists were always traditionally in favour of leaving the EU. Today, at least a third of those who support independence actually would like to leave the EU. Yet it is hard to imagine them voting against independence in a future referendum on the grounds that they don’t want to be in the EU. Calls for a second Scottish referendum are therefore pure opportunism.
Please, let’s have the best possible outcome for the sake of all of us across the UK who do not agree with isolationism and selfishness, whether that’s by blocking exit from the EU, or by negotiating to retain as many of the benefits of Europe as possible. Otherwise, the people of Oxfordshire want their independence referendum, too.