Scottish Independence – And The Federal Option

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By Stuart Clark |

The aim here is to show how, within two years, and by holding two referendums, the people of Scotland can be given two real options to choose from about how best to govern themselves and where their Sovereignty should rest.

State of play.

The Scottish government has twice been denied permission to hold an Independence referendum since the Brexit vote. The first in 2017 the day before Article 50 was triggered. It was denied by Theresa May – reason: “now is not the time”. It was requested again, in December 2019, a week after the SNP won 48 of Scotland’s 59 Westminster seats. Denied then, by Boris Johnson – reason: “the 2014 referendum was <A once in a lifetime opportunity>”

Both denials symbolise the problem and only serve to increase the likelihood that when next given the chance, will leave the Union. Another denial would set this already divided “nation of nations” on a path to confrontation.

Example process.

There are many possible scenarios of what could happen in the coming months. Whether a trade deal is achieved or not, by late October, the UK is leaving the single market and the customs union on the 31st December. A third request will be made, and probably denied. It is not clear when indyref2 will take place but take place it most definitely will.

Another straightforward IN/OUT vote with a 50% threshold is the worst possible option. But if a 60% threshold were imposed and 58% was achieved how would that help?

Can a Federal option be included in Indyref2?

Calls for a fully federal Britain are repeatedly offered as an alternative solution for Scotland, so should this be part of Indyref2. Quite honestly the answer is no. Primarily, there simply is not the time. The British public have only just begun to consider the creation of a federal Britain seriously. It will take time and a lot of public discussion. Changing the governing structure in this way can only happen when it is fully embraced by the voting public across the UK.

Scottish Independence intention should not be the reason for the creation of a Federal Britain, but it could be the impetus needed for the UK as a whole to look at how the Union is failing.

Consensus and a clear path will provide the best results.

A framework is needed to give the public good options. Consensus will need to be achieved. Here is one possible scenario.

A referendum on “Scottish Intention to declare Independence” be granted. This could take place after the Brexit transition period finishes, but before Scottish Parliament Elections take place in May 2021. A threshold would be set at 60%. Any vote between 40% and 60% would automatically trigger another vote within 6months. If the 60% is reached that would demonstrate that a clear majority no longer want to be governed by the Unitary government of the United Kingdom and trigger the countdown to a confirmatory vote one year later.

Why would they need a confirmatory vote and wait a year?

These are dramatic changes. Having a clear framework in place gives the Scottish people the chance to be offered two good options. If promises are not kept or circumstances dramatically alter, they have the option to change their minds.

What difference has the Pandemic made to the question of Scottish Independence?

Devolution in the home nations and the lack of devolution across England has clearly shown how incapable a Westminster government is of taking the appropriate decisions for the people based on their circumstances. Coupled with an electoral system not fit for purpose costing lives and livelihoods.

What needs to be covered in a national consultation?

This article is not covering the detail of such a complex agenda. There are others better equipped to do that. I am today simply highlighting the need for such a change and the opportunity the next Scottish Independence vote gives us to make that happen. But any agenda must include Electoral Reform.

Red Flags to look out for when discussing a Federal Britain.

Any talk of a single English Parliament: The primary reason the Union is failing is the size of English population compared to the other home nations. A United Federal Kingdom can only govern successfully with English regional State Parliaments and home nation Parliaments sharing sovereignty with a Federal government.

Any talk of Lords reform before electoral reform. Or moving civil servants out of London while at the same time further centralising the decision-making process is a further sign of a system that has gone horribly wrong.

A Simple choice. Advance to a Federal Britain or do nothing and see what happens.


Stuart Clark, Editor, UK



Stuart Clark is currently, board member and Nominations officer for the Federalist Party.
He was leader of the UK section of the European Federalist Party 2013-2016. He is active with Alliance Europa, and also the Federal Union in UK. As well as promoting Federalism, Stuart also campaigns for constitutional reform and electoral reform. He stood for Council Election in Lambeth in 2018. Stuart works for a global ticketing company and is based in London and Cornwall.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Dr Brian Milne

    Naive. UK Federalism had a chance way back when, certainly well before my own lifetime on the tail of WW2. The ‘love’ between the nations simply does not exist and the collective ego of the Westminster oriented ruling class has little time for provincials, owning their land is an entirely different matter. All of my young life I lived with people’s origins thrown at them. My family Scots, neighbours being Irish or Welsh, people from the various colonies classified by skin colour or accent. I also did a lot of growing up and living since in other European countries, indeed I am married to somebody from one. It helped me, being a social scientist and reasonable linguist anyway, see just how bad things were behind the veneer of middle class shelter from such sordid matters. Now in 2020, it is worse. The UK has no common political culture or particular love for each other. Federalism is dead in the water.

  2. Aidan Sweeney

    A British Federation wouldn’t deal with the fact that the majority of Scots want to be in the European Union. If they go independent instead, they can be part of the EU, which is what they want. In a British Federation they would still be outside of that, and the larger English population would still dominate things. Even with regional representation, as an alternative to a single English parliament, if the majority of England votes a particular way – like they did with the Brexit referendum – the force of numbers would still override what Scotland wants for itself. That wouldn’t be democratic. The solution is an independent Scotland which can make it’s own decisions regardless of what a larger English population wants.

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