United-Kingdom – Coming Scottish elections: putting independence to the test

United-Kingdom – Coming Scottish elections: putting independence to the test

In summary

On 6 May, Scots will head to the polls to elect the 129 Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs). If a pro-independence majority were to win, these elections could pave the way for a second referendum on Scottish independence (often referred to as "indyref2"). The Scottish National Party (SNP), in power since 2007, has written a promise to hold an independence referendum "once the Covid-19 crisis is over" into its manifesto. According to it, if a pro-independence majority emerges from the 6 May elections, this would constitute a mandate from the Scottish people for a second independence referendum.

United-Kingdom – Coming Scottish elections: putting independence to the test

With the UK Government having pulled the UK out of the European single market and customs union, Scottish EU membership would entail a physical border between Scotland and the rest of the UK. However, according to Scottish Government statistics available until 2018, Scotland does three times more trade with the rest of the UK than it does with the EU. Scottish exports to the EU totalled £16 billion in 2018, compared with £51 billion of exports to the rest of the UK and £18 billion to the rest of the world. If an independent Scotland were to gain membership of the EU, it would have to impose customs checks on trade with England.

Slavena NAZAROVA, Economist