Sunday, April 24, 2016

A British Nightmare: Scotland and the EU

I was reading this news story from the BBC, and it has the same theme as most discussion about the EU Referendum in the UK has; if the UK votes YES Scotland may vote NO.

I wanted to outline the nightmare scenario.

It's election day, June 23rd, and the ballots are cast.
As they are counted, we start to see a clear result. Scotland has heavily voted to stay. In fact, 72% of Scotland has voted to stay in the UK.

This is partly offset by the 77% of Northern Ireland that has voted to leave, though, Northern Ireland is smaller, and so, the offset is not as great.

London wants to stay, 55% voted to remain within the EU.

Wales wants to stay, but narrowly. 50.6% have voted to remain.

However in the rest of England, a narrow majority has voted to leave, 52.8% in fact.

Turnout in all the areas is high, but not even throughout the UK.

The end result for the whole of the UK:
STAY 49.8%
LEAVE 50.2%

There are protests across Scotland. No other single area has voted to stay within the UK by such a wide margin. There is pressure on David Cameron to resign. Nigel Farage is having the best day of his life.

There will be calls for another independence referendum within Scotland. Polls now say that between 60% and 65% of voters would vote for Scotland to leave the UK, with the implicit understanding that doing so would mean it stays within the EU.

The Parliament in Westminster still needs to give it's approval for any referendum in Scotland. There are calls to say 'no' to a referendum; after all, Scotland just had one a short time ago. Others say that a referendum is fine, but only after the entire UK withdraws, Scotland included, meaning Scotland would have to spend some time outside of the EU. Others are suggesting that Scotland could take over the UK's membership, the same way Russia took over the Soviet membership in many international organizations at the fall of the USSR, while others suggest this is preposterous, after all, Russia was most of the USSR while Scotland is 1/10th of the UK.

What we are in is a nightmare scenario.
With a very narrow victory for the "leave" side, and a very resounding victory in Scotland for the "stay" side, we have a country that is deeply split. There are a few things pointing to this not happening

First, polls suggest the margin in Scotland would be closer to 65-35 or even 60-40. Secondly, polls across the UK, recently, are averaging on a "stay" vote, of around 51-55%
A 10 point split between the UK-wide result and the Scotland result would not inflame as much tension as a 22 point split would. In addition, a clear vote to leave, say 60-40, would also mean less "doom" saying from the media, as opposed to a very narrow victory (at least, in UK-wide media, in Scottish media, this makes little difference)

We'll see what happens, but my money is on a narrow victory (55% or so) for the stay campaign.

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