In 2014 Scotland held what was classed as a ‘once in a lifetime’ referendum deciding their future in the UK. As predicted, they voted to stay, with a 10% majority. However, since the decision to leave the EU, the prospect of Scottish independence has risen again. Scottish National Party (SNP) leader Nicola Sturgeon argues that since 62% of Scots voted to remain in the EU, they should be able to rethink their decision about remaining in the UK.
We asked Scottish CCHSG Geography teacher, Mr Kennedy, for his thoughts on the matter. He explained that, although he was never in favour of the original Scottish independence referendum, he is now for a second one, as he thought that leaving the EU would have a mostly negative impact on the Scottish people. Despite this, he also said that ‘leaving the EU may not be as terrible as it is being made out to be.’ Regardless, as Theresa May has ruled out Nicola Sturgeon’s plans for another Scottish Independence Referendum; it is still unclear on what the future holds for Scotland, the UK and the EU.
As a result of their history, Northern Ireland has always had a more complex position in both the United Kingdom and the European Union. Therefore, the result of the EU referendum would have a more significant impact there than it ever would for the rest of the UK. One could argue that the 55.7% of Northern Irish voters, who voted to remain, did so to prevent political turmoil as a result of the reintroduction of the Irish-Northern Irish border. Some believe that the prospect of a border has the potential to spark the return of ‘The Troubles’, a time of great civil disorder in Northern Ireland during the late 20th century. After the Brexit referendum, many Northern Irish politicians argued that a referendum deciding their place in the UK needs to be considered. Furthermore, Sinn Féin, the main party arguing for Irish reunification, have now decreased the gap between themselves and the main Unionist Party, DUP, to only one seat.
Regardless, the border is still at the back of everyone’s mind in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Sinn Féin leader, Gerry Adams, has said that taking Northern Ireland out of the EU ‘will destroy the Good Friday agreement’ (The Good Friday agreement was made by British and Irish governments and decided how Northern Ireland should be governed; it is often seen as the end to The Troubles). Gerry Adams is not the only one with concerns about a potential ‘hard’ border. We asked three Irish CCHSG teachers about their thoughts on the border. They all said that a hard border would not work peacefully but if there is an electronic border, as has been suggested by UK politicians, there is the potential for Northern Ireland to avoid conflict after Brexit. Due to complications in the matter Brexit secretary David Davis has said, ‘it’s not going to be easy, it is going to cost us money, a lot of work on technology, to put in border controls without having border posts- but that is what we intend to do.’ They also both agreed that it may not be best for Northern Ireland to have an independence referendum.
But it is impossible to predict what the effect of Brexit will be without considering the Republic of Ireland.
The Republic of Ireland:
As the only country that shares a land border with the UK, Ireland has been watching the Brexit debate cautiously as it will have a big impact on their future. Many Irish politicians, economists and journalists have predicted that the harder Brexit is, the worse it would affect Ireland. Although nothing can be predicted for certain before the UK’s deal with the EU has been finalised - this will take around two years - the changing value of pound sterling, potential trade deals and migration rules could have negative consequences on the Irish economy.
Although we will not know the true impact of Brexit on the UK until we have formally left the EU, Brexit will definitely have some kind of effect on our day to day lives, no matter where we live.