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Scottish Nationalism and Europe

Scottish independence is the single focus for the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP). But is independence really what they’re asking for?

The SNP was founded in the 1930s and remained a political outlier for decades. But then along came Thatcher, who was devastatingly unpopular north of the border. By the 1980s, there was serious support for “devolution,” and a transfer of powers from Westminster to a new Scottish parliament. In 1999, devolution was achieved. But what about Scotland’s relationship with Europe?

It is worth remembering that in the late 1980s, the SNP’s slogan was “Independence in Europe.” Freedom from England, in other words, but not from Brussels. After the Brexit vote, Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the SNP, said that it is her “passionate belief that it is better for all parts of the UK to be members of the European Union.”

Brexit complicates this argument, however. After Britain leaves the EU, what currency will Scotland have? Presuming the EU permits Scotland to rejoin, what “deal” could she reasonably hope for? How would such a deal affect trade with England, which would remain Scotland’s largest trading partner? It’s complicated.

Madeleine Kearns is a William F. Buckley Fellow in Political Journalism at the National Review Institute. She is from Glasgow, Scotland, and is a trained singer.

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