POLITICANS locally are divided on the question of whether the EU poll result has provided a mandate for a second Scottish independence referendum.
Amid unprecedented upheaval following the UK’s 52-48 vote to sever its ties with Brussels, local Leave campaigner Brian Nugent said he was “not convinced” there is a mandate for another indyref, while Shetland MSP Tavish Scott cautioned against having “endless debates” over independence.
But SIC leader Gary Robinson thinks Scotland “must consider its position” after 62 per cent of voters north of the border voted Remain, while No-supporting SIC councillor George Smith hinted that he may support independence within Europe second time around.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Friday that another indyref was “highly likely” given the UK voting to leave represented the material change in circumstances referenced in the SNP’s Holyrood manifesto this spring.
Nugent said he was pleased with the UK result but disappointed with the outcome in Scotland – and in the islands, which voted 57 to 43 in favour of Remain.
But he pointed out that 43 per cent of voters went against the political parties – Lib Dem, Labour, Tory and SNP candidates for Shetland at the Scottish election in May were all pro-Remain – and said that posed a challenge to those parties.
Nugent said: “Where does that leave the Lib Dems, Labour, Tories and SNP and the local 43 per cent of disaffected voters? Five areas in Shetland voted to leave, Whalsay substantially so, but these were not enough to carry Shetland.
“I am not convinced that the result in Scotland, 62 per cent Remain, can be equated to a mandate to hold a second referendum. It does not follow that those who voted for Remain in the EU would, necessarily, vote Yes in a second Scottish independence referendum.”
He added that even “political anoraks” had to “guard against election fatigue” – the resignation of David Cameron raises the potential for another UK general election alongside a second Scottish independence referendum.
But Robinson, who is strongly pro-EU and often critical of the SNP, said: “I’m not a Scottish Nationalist but I think Scotland must consider its position. So much for Better Together and ‘don’t let the SNP rip us out of the EU’. Thanks Dave.”
Independent councillor Smith, meanwhile, said he had thought common sense would prevail.
“I believe in internationalism, not nationalism and I certainly do not relish the prospect of being ruled by English nationalism, for that is the outcome of the vote. Nasty nationalism at that.
“Maybe it is already time for Scotland to think again about its future, the future of our young people. Hopefully that can be as a social democratic internationalist country playing its part in partnership with its European friends to create and sustain a just and fair and welcoming society for all.”
Local MSP Scott, however, thinks there are more pressing issues to consider.
“The markets have fallen dramatically, the pound is on the slide, businesses are worried about the future, we have economic chaos caused by the Tories and I don’t think Nicola Sturgeon should be causing more chaos,” he said.
“People were very critical of the SNP during the last election for forgetting about standards in schools, the shortage of GPs and ferry fares.”
Scott said he was concerned Scotland would find itself dragged back into “endless debates” about independence and said issues such as the right of EU citizens to access Britain and the impact on the economy were more urgent.
He also pointed out that areas such as London and Liverpool, in addition to Scotland and Northern Ireland, had voted to remain in the EU: “What the Tories have managed to do is not only split the UK, but England as well.”