As a new year begins, talk of stockpiling medicines, hardening borders, jobs in jeopardy and blockades mount daily. Welcome to pre-Brexit UK. With less than 100 days remaining until the day the UK withdraws from the EU, it is time to have a very serious debate about the governance structures that can best protect our values and interests here in Scotland.
Much has changed following the referenda of 2014 and 2016. Simply put, the ‘status quo’ that many No voters, myself included, thought they were voting for in the Scottish Independence referendum in 2014 doesn’t exist anymore.
In 2014, we chose whether we wanted Scotland to be an independent country or whether to maintain our status as a member of the UK AND the EU. The second option has now been decoupled, so any future referendum will present a different choice. Like many others who have moved from No to Yes, the changed choice and changed circumstances mean I have changed my mind. We deserve an opportunity to vote based on the new options before us, not historic options that are obsolete.
Edinburgh has one of the highest proportions of EU residents in Scotland. In the EU referendum, there were queues out the door throughout the day at polling stations in my ward in Gorgie-Sighthill, with conversations being held in many different languages as my neighbours waited to cast their ballots. Increasing numbers of non-UK born nationals are making their home here, starting families, becoming citizens and contributing to our communities, culture and economy. Edinburgh voted 74 per cent Remain.
Brexit will have a detrimental impact on citizens from all EU 27 countries resident in Scotland, and their families. It will also have a significant impact on all Scottish citizens (and current EU passport holders) who have European partners, family working in the EU or who may wish to work, study or travel in the EU in the future. Brexit – in any form – will mean we will be deprived of rights that many of us have enjoyed our whole lives.
I believe that we now need a double referendum to answer the two questions that will impact us for generations to come. Firstly, do we want Scotland to be an independent country? And secondly, do we want an independent Scotland to be a member of the EU? We have the right to choose which Union we wish to remain in, since it can no longer be both.
If a second EU referendum is called in the next few months, we must add a referendum question on Scottish independence so that the Scottish people can decide which of the changed constitutional options they want for their future, regardless of how the rest of the UK votes. If no second EU referendum is called and we face the prospect of May’s deal or No Deal, the Scottish Government must call a second independence referendum in 2019 to protect Scotland’s interests. In this case, we can include a second question on our future membership of the EU.
We need a fresh referendum in 2019. And, in the most important election we may participate in in our lifetimes, we need two ballots.
Published in CommonSpace | 11th January 2019