Scotland, Northern Ireland May Leave U.K. After Brexit

On Friday, June 24, 2016, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said “an independence referendum is now highly likely” for Scotland in the near future, due to Britain’s 52-48% vote to leave the European Union — the “Brexit” referendum result that shocked the world.

“I want to make it absolutely clear today,” Sturgeon said, “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…”

62% of Scotland voted to remain in the EU.

This would not be the first time Scotland voted on whether to continue its centuries-old political bond with Britain. In 2014, 55% of Scots voted to stay in the U.K., 45% voted for independence. But Ana Nicolaci de Costa writes, “One key reason Scots rejected independence in a referendum almost three years ago was because independence meant leaving the EU too. After Thursday’s vote, the question is whether some Scots who wavered but eventually voted to stick with the UK in 2014, may now prefer to join the secessionists.”

Jonathon Freedland wrote in the Guardian,

Scotland (like London) voted to remain inside the European Union. Every one of its political parties (bar Ukip) urged a remain vote. Yet now Scotland is set to be dragged out of the EU, against its collective will.

The demand will be loud and instant for Scotland to assure its own destiny by breaking free of the UK. This is precisely the kind of “material change” that the Scottish National party always said would be enough to warrant a second referendum to follow the one held in 2014. And this time, surely, there will be a majority for independence. So a first legacy of 23 June could well be the imminent break-up of the UK.


The implications will be profound for Northern Ireland too… Note this morning’s warning from [political party] Sinn Féin that the British government has “forfeited any mandate to represent the economic and political interests of people in Northern Ireland”.

Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU with a nearly 56% majority.

Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness called for a poll to judge support for leaving the U.K. and uniting with Ireland. Northern Ireland has a history of violence from the 1960s to the 1990s between Protestants who wished to remain part of the U.K. and Catholics who wished to unite with Ireland.

The Brexit vote has already wrought enormous consequences. A member of parliament may have been murdered for her pro-EU, pro-refugee stance, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron announced his resignation, and the stock market plunged.

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