What a Scottish independence referendum in 2020 would mean

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Politically there are two main issues in Scotland. One is the same issue everyone in the UK is arguing over – Brexit. The other is Scottish independence. Back in 2014, a referendum took place that resulted in a close vote of 2 million Scots against independence and 1.6 million voting for it. In 2020, it looks like another referendum is coming as the Scottish Government has called for a second attempt to answer the question of whether Scots want to be independent of the UK government.


Isn’t 2020 a little ambitious for a referendum? If the referendum goes ahead next year, there won’t be a lot of time to deliberate. Referendums are supposed to get the people thinking and talking about one subject. With 2020 a few months away, this aspect will be limited. Back in 2017, the Scottish Government planned to ask the people the same question a second time. They didn’t, so pressure has been building on Nicola Sturgeon to announce an independence referendum. Back in May 2019, she announced that one would take place before the end of 2020. In October, she said she would put the request to the UK Government by the end of 2019.

UK Government

How will the UK government respond to another demand for independence? We will have to wait for the results of the general election before we can find out exactly how the PM feels on that subject but it seems pretty clear that no matter who gets in, those in Whitehall won’t welcome another independence referendum.

Can they refuse?

They have in the past and can do so again however in the past, the Scottish Government has been the party to relent by withdrawing their demand. That won’t happen this time. If they don’t get their way, the Scottish Government may seek to force through their plan by taking legal action as Constitutional Relations Secretary Michael Russell has made clear.


As previously mentioned, there’s little time for a referendum however the Scottish Government has promised one. If a referendum goes ahead in 2020, the campaigns on both sides will be a lot shorter than they were in 2012 when both the Yes and No sides had over two years to campaign. Perhaps the fact that the question was asked so recently will mean that the campaigning can be shorter as the question of independence is nothing new to Scottish voters. The problem is that the political landscape has changed significantly – in fact, that’s the justification the SNP are using to reignite this question. For those who favour independence, there’s the question of Scotland’s future relationship with both the EU and the UK given the possibility of Brexit happening. And there’s also a massive question over the Scottish and English border and how that would be work.


The political pressure brought onto the UK Government will likely see them allow a second referendum to go unchallenged. If they were seen to refuse, it would only add fuel to the fire of campaigners set on an independent Scotland. There’s no doubt that there will be a second referendum on Scottish Independence. The only question is when not if it happens.

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