Scotland and Brexit: The Road to Now



In the 2016 Brexit Referendum, Scotland voted to remain in the European Union by a 24% majority, and every one of the country's 32 local authority areas voted to Remain. Although Scotland had voted against independent statehood by the relatively narrow margin of 55-45 in 2014, the Brexit vote opened up the question of Scottish independence afresh, not least because the UK government made no concessions whatever to Remain opinion in Scotland or elsewhere, and indeed adopted a form of Brexit more absolute than that advocated by Vote Leave and leading figures in the current UK government during the campaign. This paper charts the background to Scotland's compellingly different vote in 2016 in the context of the structures of the country's history and the nature of the Scottish national movement, and examines in detail the course of politics since that date. It focuses in particular on Scotland's continuing engagement with the EU under Nicola Sturgeon's SNP government in trade and policy terms, and on the premisses and implications of the UK Government’s Internal Market Bill, designed to replace the European single market post-Brexit. The latest polling in Scotland continues to suggest a country more or less equally divided on independence, with peak support at up to 66% in Glasgow. This article closes with an evaluation of likely future developments in the context of the fundamental nature of Scottish nationalism and the Scottish polity.

Keywords: Scotland, independence, referendum, Brexit, Scottish nationalism, nationalism, UK, United Kingdom

How to Cite: Pittock, M. (2021) “Scotland and Brexit: The Road to Now”, NISE Essays. 7(1). doi: