Following the resounding victory of the Conservative Party last year, the political drama of Brexit is seemingly in its final stages. On January 31, the United Kingdom is set to begin a transition period that will conclude at the end of 2020 with the official withdrawal of the nation from the European Union. With this departure, however, a new political drama may emerge.
While the U.K. as a whole voted in favor of Brexit back in the summer of 2016, most residents of Scotland—specifically, 62 percent—cast their ballots in hopes of remaining in the European Union, which offers Scotland the trade benefits of a single market and has contributed significantly to the country’s infrastructure and industry.
In a statement released at the time of the vote, First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon said, “As things stand, Scotland faces the prospect of being taken out of the E.U. against our will. […] I regard that as democratically unacceptable.”
The alternative, a Scottish departure from the United Kingdom, would be a shock to a union that has existed for more than 300 years. And though Scottish voters rejected independence with a resounding no as recently as 2014, that was before Brexit was on the table.
In recent months, Sturgeon and other members of the pro-independence Scottish National Party have floated the possibility of a second referendum. Given the “material change of circumstance” since the 2014 vote, the argument goes, Scots are likely to arrive at a new consensus.