Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 5 July 2020

Scots in the UAE call for second independence vote back home as Brexit looms

They point to the Scottish National Party's overwhelming victory, saying it gives the party a mandate for a second independence referendum

Scottish National Party leader and Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon poses with SNP's newly-elected MPs after a successful campaign. AFP    
Scottish National Party leader and Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon poses with SNP's newly-elected MPs after a successful campaign. AFP    

Scottish residents in the UAE are calling for a second independence referendum back home in the wake of Thursday’s general election result.

Although Boris Johnson’s Conservatives swept to victory with a comfortable majority in the UK parliament, his party won only a meagre share of the seats north of the border, where 47 of the 59 seats were won by the Scottish National Party.

The SNP, which seeks independence for Scotland, is strongly anti-Brexit.

Its leader and first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, pointed to the party’s victory as further evidence a majority of Scots wished to remain in the EU, three years after the country voted against leaving Europe.

She claims last week’s decisive result provides a clear mandate to hold a second referendum on whether it should leave the UK, having lost the last vote in 2014.

“This isn’t about asking Boris Johnson or any other Westminster politician for permission. This is instead an assertion of the democratic right of the people of Scotland to determine our own future,” she said in her victory speech.

Britons in the UAE are pondering what the result may mean for the future of the UK, with some saying they supported a push for a second referendum.

Many took to social media in the aftermath of the election, discussing the fallout on Facebook groups such as British Expats Dubai.

“If nothing else, for me it’s just going to push the independence referendum right to the fore now. We have a Westminster government which bears no relationship to what Scotland has voted for,” Keith Strachan, from Aberdeenshire, Scotland, told The National.

“He’s talking about one nation, but it’s very clear I think the more it goes on now, it’s becoming more clear the Scots and English just have a different perception on what should be done.

“It’s not a case of if but when,” said Mr Strachan, who has lived in the UAE on and off for the last 13 years. He voted by proxy in the election.

However, Johnson has already said he does not support the case for a second independence referendum for Scotland.

“I think that’s going to be the argument now between the Scottish government and the UK government. I know they plan on beginning legal challenges if they have to, to try and get this through,” said Liam Gallacher, 33, from Aberdeen, Scotland, has lived in Dubai for just under two years.

Mr Gallacher, an SNP supporter, said he thinks Scotland would vote to leave the UK if given the chance the second time around.

“I believe that during the last independence referendum, a lot of EU nationals who live in Scotland voted to remain part of the UK because they wanted to stay part of Europe.

“I really think those EU nationals living in Scotland would vote for independence because they would want us to have every opportunity to join Europe,” he said.

Jenny Todd, from Edinburgh, who has lived in the UAE for the last five years, is an SNP supporter. She said the general election result showed it was time for a second independence referendum in Scotland. But she is not convinced the result would be different this time around.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, pictured entering Downing Street with partner Carrie Symonds, now has a strong mandate to deliver Brexit after an emphatic election victory for the Conservative Party. Getty    
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, pictured entering Downing Street with partner Carrie Symonds, now has a strong mandate to deliver Brexit after an emphatic election victory for the Conservative Party. Getty    

“My fear is that many people voted tactically,” she said. “I want independence, most definitely. But I think a lot of people voted SNP, not because they wanted independence, but because they didn’t want the Tories in Scotland.”

Howard Townsend, a Brexit supporter who is originally from Yorkshire, said many in Britain are tired of Scotland’s campaign for independence and do not care if the country votes to leave. But he also suspects it will not, even if given a second chance.

“I don't really care what Scotland does, again, it is their democratic choice. But many in the rest of Great Britain are rather tired of the constant Scottish whinging over the Union and would prefer them to go it alone and see how they fare,” said Mr Townsend, who has lived in the UAE for almost 17 years.

“I think you will still find that if they do go for another Scottish Independence vote even after the SNP victories it will go the same. Most of these votes are down to purely people saying they are totally frustrated at the whole Brexit saga and want an end to it. Scotland didn't know which way to turn in the Parties and just went SNP.”

Updated: December 14, 2019 08:36 PM

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