Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon gives an address at the European Policy Center in Brussels, Belgium June 2, 2015. REUTERS/Yves Herman - RTR4YGL5

In 2014 I voted against independence… Brexit has changed my mind

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It was around 3am in the early hours of Friday morning that I lost my battle against sleep. At that point the result of the UK’s EU referendum was far from certain. When I woke up at around 6.30am, the country’s fate had already been decided.

Like millions of others, I was bitterly disappointed with the news that Britain had voted to leave the European Union. A vicious campaign had been fought on both sides, with lies, controversies, and the devastating murder of Jo Cox dominating the headlines. Before the result was even announced it was clear that Britain was a country divided. But after all of this, I genuinely thought that the UK would not take the step of severing ties with the EU.

My first reaction is anger. It frustrates me that my future has been decided for me by people who do not have the same outlook on our relations with the rest of the world. I am upset that my opportunities to live and work abroad have been limited.

But perhaps I am most livid that, when it boils down to it, the decision that my country made has been completely disregarded due to the political opinions of the rest of the UK.

In 2014, the year of the Scottish independence referendum, the UK was a very different place.

An EU referendum was just a distant dream, and instead the whole of Britain was focused on Scotland’s future. I am not ashamed to admit that when I voted in the independence referendum – the first time I ever voted – I chose to remain a part of the UK.

Back then I was confident that I had made the right choice. I wasn’t fully convinced that Scotland could go it alone, and remaining with the rest of the UK seemed like the safer choice. Scotland voted against independence, and the whole idea faded into the background – despite calls for another independence referendum in the future.

In the months since, I have become less and less certain that I made the right decision. In 2015 a General Election came and went, which resulted in Scotland being ruled by a Westminster government that it did not vote for.

But it was only when this EU referendum came into play that I seriously considered that Scotland and the rest of the UK may want different things.

One of the main reasons that I voted against Scotland’s independence was because I wanted our country to remain with the EU. It didn’t take long for this promise to crumble – less than two years later Scotland risks being dragged away from it with the rest of the UK, despite a majority of Scottish people voting to stay in.

Ever since the result was announced on Friday morning, our country has been in a state of political turmoil. Key members of both the Leave and Remain campaigns are nowhere to be seen. Our Prime Minister has resigned, and Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition, is barely clinging on to his position. No-one seems to be quite sure of what’s going to happen next – the Leave side didn’t expect to win, and the Remain side didn’t expect to lose. With neither side prepared nor willing to take the next step, we are left with a crashing economy, the cold shoulder from Europe, and great political uncertainty.

One politician keeping her head is Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Many Scottish voters now look to her in the midst of this chaos. The difference in voting between Scotland and the rest of the UK gives her a golden opportunity to make the case for independence. But in order to catch the votes needed to win, the campaign will have to take a different tack from the one in 2014. With less scaremongering and a stronger argument for how Scotland could go it alone, the Yes campaign could win it second time around.

However, I am one person who no longer needs convincing. I believe that staying in the EU is what is best for my country. If it takes measures as extreme as separating from the rest of the UK, so be it. It is now clear that the politics of Scotland and the rest of the UK are going in different directions – too different now for the current system to work. Brexit has finally given me the opportunity to see that Scotland’s future should be an independent one.

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  1. I am English and voted ‘no’ last time – for economic reasons and because I wanted to remain in the EU. I’m 66 years old, so fit into the Leave profile although as a very active Remain campaigner I found those older people who did support Remain, whilst in a minority, had really thought the issues through. If given a second chance I will probably vote yes to independence. My support is pragmatic – not emotional – so if the 3 wise monkeys May’s appointed by some miracle negotiate something impressive I’ll probably reconsider. I’m not ashamed of this because I’m really voting first to stay in Europe, not leave the UK. The main reservation I have is the word ‘Nationalist’ in the party name. To most thinking people of my generation, that label is even nastier than ‘Tory’. We’ve seen National Socialism – and we all know how that ended; we’ve seen Serbian nationalism – ditto! I have loved being a European – I’m part what my son calls the ‘hippy’, ‘Star Trek’; ‘Federation if the Universe’ generation. I make no apology for that – nationalism carries nasty baggage!

    • I can understand your aversion to the kinds of nationalism you mention but the name of the SNP is the Scottish National (not Nationalist) Party. Scottish nationalism, as espoused by the SNP and others, is a form of civic nationalism and carries no such baggage. I, and countless tens of thousands, would want nothing to do with any kind of xenophobic movement. Glad you’re thinking about voting YES next time round.

  2. Good article, Amy! I hope that you will see other ‘positives’ besides staying with the EU, to consolidate your new choice of vote. But meanwhile, it’s good to have you taking the next step with us. Thank you for your support for Scotland.

  3. Some of us have been driven to the same conclusion some time ago, but I’m still sorry that it had to come to this juncture for you. Your ambitions for the UK were far better than its ambitions for you. But be of good cheer, trust yourself and the good people of Scotland, look around and observe the example of other small countries, and see that we’re by no means “too wee, too puir or too stupid”.

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