By Alexander Brotman Geopolitical Monitor
As First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has set the date for a second Scottish independence referendum in October 2023, many battles with Westminster are just beginning. The vote will only proceed if it is considered legal by the UK Supreme Court, an outcome which is not guaranteed. Sturgeon is taking a great gamble in forging ahead with a vote that will likely not have London’s approval, basing it on her perception of the breakdown in democratic standards by the now-departing Johnson government and the unique circumstances that have changed Scotland’s perspective on independence and its place in Europe since the Brexit vote. For Sturgeon, the renewal of democracy in Scotland is paramount, and as her second paper outlining the case for independence explains, that can only be achieved through independence. The paradox is that for Westminster, Sturgeon’s push looks fundamentally anti-democratic and authoritarian, the whims of a nationalist-minded state that shows little regard for the laws of the union that it is still a member of.
As the Conservative Party elects its new leader, leading candidates have expressed their desire for Scotland to wait another decade before holding a second referendum. Labour leader Keir Starmer is also opposed to granting Scotland a referendum, and has ruled out forming any government with the Scottish National Party (SNP). Labour’s policy disagreement with the SNP is a ‘fundamental’ one according to Starmer, further isolating Holyrood from both of Britain’s main political parties between now and well past May 2024 when the next general election is held. The SNP’s voice is a lonely one, with Scottish Labour taking an even more forceful route than Starmer in calling the division that Sturgeon seeks to sow as akin to something that Vladimir Putin would relish.