Christian Allard, upon entering the Scottish Parliament after another MSP resigned in 2013, was sworn in to the Parliament in both English and French.

Today a Polish student feels that, while Brexit feels like a rejection, Scotland is holding her hand.

Nicola Sturgeon making it clear that EU citizens are not bargaining chips, and that they are welcome in Scotland.

The determination to make Scotland a normal northern European country, and that it is Britain that is the odd one.

These are the sorts of things that make me more and more sympathetic to the cause of Scottish independence, or radical and profound decentralisation if you like. For I am not a nationalist. I am not even Scottish, and I have set foot in Scotland just twice in my life.

All of the things I highlight above ought to be able to be achieved across the UK, without Scotland needing to become independent. It’d be great if swearing into a parliament could be conducted in all sorts of languages, but it’d create an awful stink in the tabloid press were it to happen in Westminster. Students like Joanna ought to be welcome in the whole of the UK. The House of Commons could have sent a signal that EU citizens were welcome, but did the opposite. And a more just and fair economy ought to be possible for the whole of Britain. But faced with a UK government hell bent on Brexit – against the wishes of Scotland and Northern Ireland – and with Scotland seeing its own future as necessarily within the EU, it strikes me the case for independence is now more compelling than ever. In the absence of a federal UK and a radically reformed politics in London it’s now the obvious choice for Scotland it seems to me.

I’m not naive about all of this. The path towards independence is a rocky one, not least economically. There were unpleasant elements of Scottish nationalism that reared up during the 2014 referendum, and I fear those will come to the fore once more. The harder the Brexit, the potentially more severe the economic consequences of Scotland leaving the UK on Scotland itself.

But – unlike pretty much everything else in UK politics now – there is hope in Scottish politics as well. Of a fairer, more welcoming, more just and open way of doing politics. Where belonging is determined more by wanting to belong than by defining oneself as against others. Sure, it’s not perfect, but what place is? And, personified by Nicola Sturgeon and her determination, sense and dignity, it has the only politician talking any sense in the UK just now.

So, as I said on Twitter, to Scottish friends of mine, to anyone resident in Scotland, I wish you the very best. And when you have a date for your referendum I will come and campaign with you for independence – because you’d welcome that, the very opposite of how Cameron rejected anyone not British daring to open their mouth about Brexit. There’s a lesson in there somewhere.

(P.S. this piece by @ottocrat is worth reading – he, as a pro-EU non-Scot, comes to conclusions similar to mine. I’ve also examined the serious issues of Scotland-EU relations in this post.)


  1. Robert Pierce

    Prior to 23/6/17, I was a staunch unionist and opposed Scottish independence. 24/6/17 changed all that. As difficult as it might be for Scotland to leave the UK even if it wins a second referendum with a positive result, hopefully, it has every right to self-determination since it is being dragged out of the EU against its will and the overwhelming majority of the voters in Scotland. Theresa May’, an unelected leader of a right wing Brexit government has totally rejected a meaningful vote for our “sovereign Parliament” to any final “deal” to the detriment of the people and the economy of the UK, let alone guaranteeing the rights of EU residents. Democracy died a little the day she did that. That’s not the UK I know and love. We are better than that but obviously May and her government are not. I too and many other remainers will do all we can to make sure Scotland has another referendum. And no, Theresa May is delusional let alone arrogant to assume that 65 million of us are on board with Brexit. She has divided this country indefinitely and has now made the break up of the union even more inevitable. Has she no shame?

  2. Now we know where your loyalties lie – and they sure as hell aren’t with the UK. However I think we all knew that anyway.

    Scotland is on rocky ground and her prospects outside of the UK are grim to say the least. Scotland would have to apply for EU membership (not sure if sh’ell qualify immediately), then she has to get past Spain who have it quite clear that they will not permit Scottish accession. Not with Catalonia they won’t. The will have to use the Euro and they won’t be contributing much (if anything). Remove the rosy spectacles Jon – it just isn’t going to happen.

  3. I don’t agree that Scottish Independence and Brexit are so very different. Both reflect the frustration of people who feel ignored and disenfranchised by a distant elite. Both have their nasty and xenophobic wings, but both also draw support from decent people who care about sovereignty and democracy. The notion that Scottish Independence is all about “fairness, openness and tolerance” and that Brexit is all about “xenophobia, insularity and bigotry” is pretty narrow-minded and is not supported by the evidence. In truth, the major distinction between the two campaigns is that Scottish Independence has been driven from within the political system by a longstanding nationalist-socialist party, whereas Brexit has been driven by a populist insurgency, largely because no mainstream party supported it.

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