What is the prospect of second Scottish independence referendum?

How do you read today’s statement of Nicola Sturgeon about second referendum, can she get the permission? Read few comments.

First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon. Credit: http://www.snp.org

Matthew Flinders, Professor, Director, Sir Bernard Crick Centre for the Public Understanding of Politics. University of Sheffield

I think the statement has thrown the British government into a state of some chaos. Parliament can in theory reject the request for a second referendum but the momentum of democracy is very much against them. The government also has a very small majority and to some extent the United Kingdom is becoming ‘the Dis-united Kingdom’. This was always a risk once devolution was introduced by Tony Blair’s government but the process has speeded up. The interesting element is that if a referendum takes place in Scotland – and it is a big ‘if’ – it will be the social desire to remain part of the EU, rather than necessarily leaving the UK, that may win the day.

Craig McAngus, Lecturer, Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Aberdeen

It is in the power of the UK Government to withhold consent for a second referendum to take place. It could refuse to put in place a Section 30 order which temporarily transfers that authority to the Scottish Parliament. However, it would probably be politically counterproductive to do so and would likely boost support for independence. So, I think the UK Government will allow it to happen.

Neil McGarvey, Senior Teaching Fellow, School of Government and Public Policy, University of Strathclyde

I think she will get permission, otherwise it might cause a constitutional crisis. Negotiation with the UK Government will be around timing of when and the question to be asked, Referendum campaign expenditure rules etc. It’s a difficult one to call but I think the Scottish Nationalists have decided ‘it’s now or never’ (never being about 2030! in terms of once in a generation) and they are willing to take the risk.

It could have the effect of threatening Theresa May’s Government’s authority in Brexit negotiations in claiming to represent the whole of the UK.

Thomas Carl LundbergLecturer in Politics, School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Glasgow

I suspect that Sturgeon will get permission to hold the referendum, but there might be a problem with the timing (before Brexit actually occurs). I don’t know how that will play out, so we’ll see. I suppose Sturgeon thinks she might be able to keep Scotland in the EU as the rest of the UK goes out, but I’m not sure if this is possible, since the EU and UK will be negotiating other major issues (some kind of trade agreement, payment of the UK’s debt to the EU, and the residence rights of citizens); dropping Scotland in there would complicate matters.

Victoria Honeyman, Lecturer in Politics, POLIS, University of Leeds

Theresa May is in a difficult position, as she clearly does not want a referendum before the Brexit deal is completed (although there is no real end date for that. Article 50 indicates 2 years but whether that can be done is not yet clear) but she cannot appear to be deliberately obstructive to the Scottish people, if there is a will for another referendum. Therefore she has taken the line of another referendum, but not yet. However Nicola Sturgeon will not be happy with this, so political pressure will be applied. Westminster has the right to deny a referendum legally, but they clearly need to be aware of the political ramification of this, so an outright refusal seems unlikely. The debate will be focused on the timing and it is unclear currently as to whether Westminster of Holyrood will win.

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