The independence party SNP has clearly won the parliamentary elections in Scotland. That gives wings to hope for a secession from England. But Boris Johnson defends himself.
Photo series with 54 pictures
Spurred on by a strong result in the general election in Scotland, the ruling party SNP has increased pressure on London not to block a new independence referendum any longer. “The only people who can decide about the future of Scotland are the Scots,” said Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon, the chairman of the Scottish National Party (SNP), on Saturday evening.
In the dispute over a new referendum, she played the ball into the field of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. He threatens a “fight with the democratic wishes of the Scottish people” if he tries to prevent a vote.
Sturgeon wants a referendum
The parliamentary election was seen as a mood test for the desire for independence. Shortly before the end of the count, the SNP had 63 seats. An absolute majority with 65 of the 129 seats was considered unlikely. Together with the Greens, who will have at least three MPs, the pro-independence supporters definitely have a majority in parliament.
It is the fourth consecutive election victory for the SNP in Scotland. Sturgeon announced that it would press ahead with a referendum. A bill for this is already in the drawer. Sturgeon wants to bring an independent Scotland back into the EU.
Johnson: “irresponsible and inconsiderate”
Johnson again rejected a new referendum. A referendum was “irresponsible and inconsiderate,” said Johnson of the Daily Telegraph newspaper (Saturday). “Now is not the time to have constitutional disputes and talk about tearing our country apart when the people are more concerned with healing our economy and moving forward together.”
Letter from Johnson to Sturgeon
Boris Johnson wrote a letter promoting the Union of the Different Parts of the United Kingdom. “It is my passionate belief that the interests of the people of the UK, and especially the people of Scotland, are best served when we work together,” wrote Johnson in a letter to Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon published on Saturday evening. The benefit of this cooperation was particularly evident in the corona pandemic. “This is Team United Kingdom in action,” said Johnson.
Johnson wrote in the letter that the country was facing major challenges. The UK’s “broad shoulders” would have protected jobs and companies during the Corona crisis. The economic recovery is a common task. Johnson invited Sturgeon to meet with his government and the heads of the rest of Wales and Northern Ireland to discuss how to address common challenges.
Most experts believe that a referendum would not be legal without approval from London. But the result of the general election could increase the pressure on Johnson to allow another referendum.
“Fief Lord of Scotland”
British media predicted that the SNP would miss the absolute majority, playing into the hands of Johnson. On the other hand, the SNP and party-affiliated experts emphasize that the SNP result alone is not decisive. “Boris Johnson is not some kind of fiefdom of Scotland,” said Vice Prime Minister John Swinney. What is more important is a majority in parliament.
The Scottish electoral system provides compensatory mandates for weaker parties. That makes it difficult to get an absolute majority in the Edinburgh Parliament. The Greens reaffirmed their support for independence, but coalition talks have not yet taken place.
Possible decision in court
Because of the corona pandemic, the counting of Thursday’s vote had only started on Friday and was interrupted overnight. The dominant campaign theme was independence. Election expert John Curtice observed tactical votes in several constituencies: there, supporters of a union with Great Britain often did not vote for their actual party, but for the representative of the opponents of independence with the greatest chance of victory, he told the BBC. The turnout was more than 63 percent, higher than ever before. In many places there were long queues in front of polling stations.
Eventually the Supreme Court will decide on a referendum. Sturgeon told Channel 4, “If Boris Johnson wants to stop this, he has to go to court.” The SNP is aiming for a referendum by the end of 2023.
The UK government stresses that the independence issue was resolved in 2014. “It would be irresponsible to have another referendum and debate on the constitution if we were to get out of this pandemic and focus on economic recovery,” cabinet member George Eustice told Times Radio. The SNP, on the other hand, insists that the initial situation has changed as a result of Brexit. The majority of the Scots rejected leaving the EU in the 2016 Brexit referendum, but were overruled.