Posted by Euan Bennet on 24/06/2016
Should the UK remain a member of the EU or leave the EU? The people have spoken, and the answer was
Remain in the European Union: 16,141,241 (48.1%)
Leave the European Union: 17,410,742 (51.9%)
This striking results map shows at a glance that the UK is now more than ever a Union in name only.
Remain a member of the European Union: 1,661,191 (62.0%)
Leave the European Union: 1,018,322 (38.0%)
Every single council area in Scotland voted Remain, some overwhelmingly (67% in Glasgow and 74% in Edinburgh), and some were a wee bit closer (Remain win by 119 votes in Moray). Watching the map of Scotland turn uniformly yellow as the night went on was very pleasing. The country is united, as the saying goes.
The Disunited Kingdom
The absolute opposite applies to the “United” Kingdom.
Remain a member of the European Union: 13,266,996 (46.6%)
Leave the European Union: 15,188,406 (53.4%)
The only Region of England to vote Remain overall was London (59.9% Remain). Check out how the other English Regions voted.
Remain a member of the European Union: 772,347 (47.5%)
Leave the European Union: 854,572 (52.5%)
Wales man, what on Earth happened there? Even with UKIP’s vote shares there in 2014 and 2016, I still expected Remain to narrowly win. Show’s what I know!
Northern Ireland only
Remain a member of the European Union: 440,437 (55.8%)
Leave the European Union: 349,442 (44.2%)
The vote in Northern Ireland seems to have split along Unionist (Leave)/Republican (Remain) lines. I’m not really in a position to comment in detail on the unique situation in Northern Ireland. Suffice it to say they, London and Scotland tried our best – but collectively we were still outnumbered by the rest of England and Wales.
So it’s an overall Leave then
Facebook is full of people expressing their disbelief at this result. I’m oddly calm today – maybe it hasn’t sunk in yet. More likely it’s because I’ve been anticipating this for nearly two years. I was one of the raving Yes campaigners during the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum who wouldn’t shut up about Better Together’s dishonesty on EU membership.
Looking at the direction of travel politically of the UK as a whole (driven by England [and Wales, as it turns out]) my view during the IndyRef was that the real danger to EU membership was with a No vote. The trouble is, at the time there were no guarantees either way. For me as I’ve discussed before, the primary driver for a Yes vote was the better democracy that would have resulted from it, with everything else following.
I complete understand people who voted No based on the premise of wanting to keep EU membership. Whether they agreed with me or not, voters all made their decision based on the available information, and why would they listen to vile separatist bloggers like me over the UK Government and official No campaign assurances that the “only way to guarantee EU membership is to vote No”?
A material change in circumstances
In 2014 voters made their decision based on the information available at the time. Last night the available information dramatically changed. Voters in Scotland can now choose: either stay in the UK, or stay in the EU. Both are no longer an option.
I truly hope that every No voter who based part of their decision on the EU membership is willing to re-evaluate their decision. Those voters for whom this changes their mind about Scotland within the UK will be welcomed with open arms into the independence movement. Nobody benefits from saying “I told you so”. We voted in 2014, promises were made if we voted No (not just on the EU membership), and every single one of those promises have been broken. Those of us on the Yes side in 2014 will only persuade a majority of people to support our view that Scotland should be an independent country by positive encouragement and welcoming all to the cause.
Last night’s result was the starkest reminder ever that Scotland’s voice does not count as part of the United Kingdom “Union of Equals”. As a consequence our country faces being dragged out of a true Union of Equals against our democratic will. In 2014 I argued that one of the main constitutional reasons Scotland should be independent was that 60% of the time over the last 50 years we’ve had governments imposed on us that we soundly rejected at the ballot box. Functionally this time is no different: but it is more serious, and far harder to refute the fundamental differences in outlook after a binary choice vote as opposed to a multi-party election.
In addition to the constitutional angle there is the political angle. Politically the direction of travel of Scotland could hardly be more diametrically opposed to that of England (outwith London). The Leave vote won the referendum yesterday where the main focus of the campaign was on reducing immigration. Scotland needs MORE immigration, for goodness’ sake! Our problem for the last 3 centuries has been too much EM-igration! Not only that, Scotland now has a Scottish Government and a vast majority of Westminster MPs who were elected on an anti-austerity platform. David Cameron has resigned as Prime Minister but do any of the candidates for the Tory leadership (and unless an unlikely General Election is called and an even more unlikely Labour victory occurs, our next Prime Minister) seem likely to give us less austerity given that the pound just crashed through the floor?
At what point is enough, enough?
During the 2014 independence referendum I debated with people who wanted to vote No to stay in the UK and help reform it for everyone. My view was that the UK had already proven itself unreformable and that it was futile to tie ourselves to the direction of travel that England (mainly) was choosing, when with less than 10% of total votes we had hardly a hope of affecting anything.
If ever there was clear evidence of Scotland trying to influence a progressive choice for the UK as a whole, and failing, then it was yesterday. Yesterday was a major turning point: the cliche in Scotland to explain Labour’s electoral annihilation is “I didn’t leave Labour, Labour left me”. After yesterday it would be fair to say “Scotland isn’t leaving the UK, England & Wales are leaving us”.
In 2014, Scotland was asked to vote No and be part of something bigger than ourselves. 55% of voters did.
In 2016, 62% of voters in Scotland voted to be part of something bigger than ourselves. We now face a clear choice: Which Union do we want to stay in?
What price are we willing to pay to stay in the UK?