England and Scotland have always had a tumultuous relationship. Many regard the election that took place in December of 2019 as possibly being the last election of a “United” Kingdom [1] as the decision was made by the citizens of the U.K. to withdraw from the European Union once and for all. The December election put to rest an almost three year public debate of the wisdom of that decision. In the most recent election the people of the U.K. were given the choice between the Conservative party of Prime Minister Borris Johnson, who wanted to finalize Britain’s departure from the EU, and their opposition in the Labour Party. The Conservative Party won by a landslide in most of England, but in Scotland the party winning the most seats was the Scottish National Party. Due to these results, the world could be watching the last sense of unity between these nations.

The United Kingdom is comprised of many cultures and ethnic backgrounds within a single state. [2] This unique background leads to problems, due to competing interests. The nations of the United Kingdom have had many movements throughout history that threatened to end the unified state it has become. In recent years a larger separatist movement from Scotland has evolved due to the rising nationalism in both nations. Scotland has an interest in continuing the relationship with the economic engine that is the EU. [3] The 2014 Referendum vote for independence and the 2016 Brexit vote have fractured an already unstable partnership. The results of the December 2019 election have ended the Scottish chances of both remaining a partner to the EU and remaining as a nation in the U.K.   

Scottish Movement 

The Scottish National Party is the largest political party in Scotland and has the most representation in the legislature. [4]The party’s vision and policies all stem from wanting Scotland to be an independent country that is removed from the institutions and powers of the British government. The greatest achievement of the party was the independence referendum that took place in 2014. Even though this referendum failed,it led to the Scottish National Party doubling its membership. [4] This party is Scotland’s main voice on what the citizens hope to achieve through legislation. The party has gained prominence and has continued growing steadily since 2014, leading to its current majority within Parliament.     

This hold that the Scottish Party has been able to lock down in the government system, leads to the continued concern that Scotland is seeking to be an independent country. The movement has gained greater support in Scotland as a result of the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union. Brexit has shaped the politics of Europe for the last three years. There was no longer the question of when the U.K. was going to leave, but a matter of how soon the ties would be cut. Scotland is caught in the middle between their desire for economic security and the history it has with the other nations in the United Kingdom. 

The Scottish referendum for independence in 2014 failed, but only by a small margin, with 55.3 percent in favor of staying within the United Kingdom and 44.7 percent wanting independence. [5] The United Kingdom viewed this as a win, but it did not analyze how the diverging interests between the two nations were becoming too large to fix. The independence referendum took place before the citizens had a chance to vote on Brexit. If the results of Brexit are broken down by nation, Scotland’s citizens voted 62 percent to remain in the EU and 32 percent to leave the EU. [6] The Scottish citizens made it clear that they did not want to leave the EU, and that it wanted the markets made available to them by being a member.

The EU Factor 

The outcome of the December elections was referred to as the results of the citizens voting in favor of a hard Brexit, which detailed a complete severing of ties between the EU and the U.K., while a soft Brexit would entail a prolonged partnership and a much longer transition period between both parties. [7] Due to the significant victory of the Conservative Party, Britain was going to leave the EU with little to no interaction between the two institutions afterwards. As a result of this vote,  the desire for Scottish independence has increased. The Scottish people want to be members of the European Union. Back in 2014,  many of the EU leaders made it clear that any move on Scotland’s part to become a member of the EU without the other nations of the U.K. would be rejected. [3].The EU leaders took this stance before the results of the Brexit referendum in 2016. With the United Kingdom no longer being a member of the EU, the attitude towards Scottish membership has changed. Leaders of the Union have now expressed that they would be open to Scotland rejoining if they became independent. The people of Scotland are no longer satisfied with other nations making decisions for them. The citizens and leaders want  more than just a large minority within the legislature and are moving towards a second referendum vote for independence.

This referendum has the possibility of succeeding due to the economic factor. The rest of the nations within the United Kingdom, voted to be separate from the globalized views of the EU and the increased loss of sovereignty that is expected when membership is granted. The requirements of EU membership include losing the strength of the national government in order to gain access to the vast market that is given due to membership status. The EU offers members not only access to a stable market and trading partners, but also offers access to benefits such as easier travel, manufacture access, and lucrative deals with countries and multinational corporations. [8] The benefits of the EU often outlast the negatives for many of the member states that it is made up of.  

Scotland has the benefit of gaining access to the EU without the U.K. attempting to sabotage their bid. Scotland has the opportunity to rejoin the union, with both the support of its citizens and other members of the EU. Wanting to remain an active member of the union has only added fuel to the fire for a new referendum vote. Scottish political leaders have been wanting to break from the partnership of the U.K. since the referendum vote in 2014. This can be felt in the statements given by leaders of the government in Scotland telling EU citizens to remain in the country in order to demonstrate their commitment to the EU and its values. [9]   The desire of the Scottish people to leave has been renewed. The force in which Brexit will hit in Scotland is not something that citizens will stand for, leading them to seek independence, with a greater chance of succeeding. The issue is no longer about a desire for freedom, but an attitude shift towards a more globalized economic policy.    


The divergence in interests and policy that has been rising within the last decade between Scotland and the rest of the U.K. has given rise to a stronger national movement. Scottish citizens and leaders have made it clear that their membership in the United Kingdom is no longer meeting their needs. They are now looking towards an independent future that is representative of their wants and desires. That future is one that is tolerant of the globalized society in which many countries find themselves today, and not reverting back to an “our people first” approach. Scotland is open to a larger image of what it means to be a citizen of Scotland.  It is no longer a question of will the Scottish leave the U.K., it is now only a matter of timing. While the country has just begun to officially close the chapter of the EU, they have now opened a can of worms of how strong the Union between the four nations is. 

The Scottish people have a movement that is distinct from a nationalist movement. The citizens want to be excluded from the narrative that the Conservative party is constructing for the rest of U.K., and they seek to design their own pathway forward. The possible membership that the EU has been enticing them with only adds fuel to the fire of wanting their own nation state. The thought of Brexit was seen as being impossible too many, but with this movement away from the EU, the U.K. has now set  up  a successful independence movement that the Scottish people have been waiting centuries for.        


  1. Goodman, Peter S. “Brexit Is Finally Happening, but the Complicated Part Is Just Beginning.” The New York Times. The New York Times, January 29, 2020.
  2. Bechhofer, Frank, and David McCrone. “National identity, nationalism and constitutional change.” In National identity, nationalism and constitutional change, pp. 1-16. Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2009.       
  3. Carrell, Severin. “Tusk: EU Would Be Enthusiastic If Scotland Applied to Rejoin.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, February 2, 2020.
  4. “History of Scottish National Party.” Scottish National Party. Scottish National Party, September 2018.
  5. “Scottish Referendum: Scotland Votes ‘No’ to Independence.” BBC News. BBC, September 19, 2014.
  6. “EU Referendum Results.” BBC News. BBC, June 24, 2016.
  7. Bloomberg, Bryce Baschuk |. “Analysis | If You’re Wondering How Hard a ‘Hard Brexit’ Could Be.” The Washington Post. WP Company, September 2, 2019.
  8. Pinder, John. “European Community: the building of a union.” (1991).
  9.  “EU Citizens Vital to Scotland.” Scottish Government, January 20, 2020.