As the decision to bomb Syria further exposes tensions between Scotland and England, the UK’s future remains unclear.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has vowed to protect Scotland against the “devastating” fallout of Brexit and hinted that her government may use legal means to try to block Britain’s departure from the European Union.
Sturgeon said the United Kingdom that Scotland voted to remain a part of in a 2014 independence referendum “does not exist any more” after Thursday’s referendum to leave the EU.
“What’s going to happen with the UK is that there are going to be deeply damaging and painful consequences … I want to try and protect Scotland from that,” Sturgeon told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday.
In a round of broadcast interviews, she also said it was possible that the Scottish parliament may have to give its consent to laws to extricate Britain from the EU.
Asked whether she would consider asking Scottish MPs not to give that consent, she replied: “Of course.”
Asked on the BBC if she could imagine the fury of British voters who had made the choice to leave the EU if the Scottish parliament blocked Brexit, Sturgeon said: “I can, but it’s perhaps similar to the fury of many people in Scotland right now as we face the prospect of being taken out of the European Union against our will.”
But, Nina Schick, of Open Europe, told Al Jazeera that Scotland cannot actually block a Brexit.
“Once the formal exit clause is triggered, and it can only be triggered by the UK government, the UK is on its way out,” she said.
Sturgeon leads the pro-independence Scottish National Party, which has 63 out of 129 seats in the devolved parliament, as well as 54 out of 650 seats in Britain’s House of Commons.
Britain as a whole voted by 52 percent to 48 percent to leave the EU but Scotland voted strongly for Britain to remain – by 62 percent to 38 percent.
Within hours of the result on Friday, Sturgeon said a new independence referendum within two years was now “highly likely” and on Saturday she said Scotland was seeking “immediate discussions” with European leaders.
Two new polls taken after Thursday’s vote showed a majority of Scots would now support independence.
A Panelbase survey for the Sunday Times found that 52 percent of respondents now wanted to break with the rest of Britain, while 48 percent were opposed.
In a poll for Scotland’s Sunday Post, ScotPulse found that 59 percent would vote for independence.
“We are in uncharted territory right here and it’s clear that the Scottish nationalists have profited from this referendum,” Schick said.
“We may soon be on the way to an independent Scotland.”
Sturgeon on Sunday warned that the consequences of dragging Scotland out of the European Union “against [its] will “would be “devastating”.
Asked what Scotland’s negotiating position with Brussels could be and whether it would have to join the EU as a new member state, she said: “This would not be a decision about Scotland leaving … this would actually be a decision about Scotland staying.”
“Our argument is that we don’t want to leave. It’s not that we want to leave and get back in,” she said.
She also cautioned any future British prime minister against vetoing a new Scottish independence vote.
Andrew Scott, a professor of European Union studies at the University of Edinburgh, told AFP that one way in which Scotland could remain in the EU would be to vote for independence before Britain’s departure is finalised.
It could then define itself as a “successor state” and effectively inherit Britain’s EU membership, including the budget rebate, he argued.
A second option would be for an independent Scotland to leave the EU and then re-apply while in the meantime joining the European Economic Area, he said.
“I think the European Union would have no reason to reject Scotland’s participation or continuing membership of the EU,” Scott added.