So, it is official; parliament officials will now be given the chance to vote on how and when the government should trigger Article 50. After sustained court proceedings and a government appeal the Supreme Court has confirmed that British Prime Minister and Tory leader Theresa May cannot make the decision independently by way of a royal prerogative.
While this served as good news for most remain enthusiasts, however, it also came as a hammer blow to the devolved nations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. As a part of the ruling, the Supreme Court also confirmed that these governments had no say over the UK’s right to leave the EU, leaving them bereft of hope and with little control over their own destiny.
Can Scotland Use an Independence Referendum to Take Back Control?
For all the talk of the UK’s future trade agreements and the pound taking a hammering on the forex markets, however, it is arguable that the devolved nations will suffer the harshest consequences of the Brexit vote. This is somewhat ironic, particularly as the vast majority of Scottish and Irish residents voted to remain in the EU, while Wales’ electorate appear to have had a change of heart after initially backing Brexit.
Make no mistake; leaving the EU will have a huge impact on trade for these countries, while it seems certain that some form of hard, customer border will need to be implemented if the UK leaves the customs union. This would create a divide between Northern Ireland and the independent, Southern Republic, hindering trade and potentially ripping the heart and soul out of industries such as the dairy sector.
If we accept that Ireland has been dealt the worst hand as a result of the Brexit vote, what about Scotland? After all, Scotland finds itself in a slightly different position due to its geographical location, while the nation has also talked more aggressively about seeking independence from the UK and seizing back control. This was discussed at length recently by Nicola Sturgeon, who challenged the Scottish electorate to ask whether they were happy with their future lying in the hands of the Conservative Party or would prefer to pursue independence once again.
The Bottom Line: Why Another Referendum May Be Heading Our Way
Sturgeon makes a compelling argument, as even those who disagree with independence may now see this as a preferable alternative to laying prone at the feet of Westminster. The cold and seemingly arrogant nature of Theresa May is also forcing the hand of the SNP leader, with senior party officials and voters increasingly disillusioned with the lack of communication from Westminster.
Of course, this does not mean that a Scottish referendum vote is guaranteed to take place. It does suggest that this prospect will become increasingly likely in the weeks ahead, as the Scottish people are becoming increasingly helpless at the hands of May’s vague, and seemingly reckless, Brexit vision.