21 July 2018
If Scotland holds another referendum on whether to leave the UK, pro-independence politicians will now have much greater support. Photo: Telegraph
If Scotland holds another referendum on whether to leave the UK, pro-independence politicians will now have much greater support. Photo: Telegraph

Why the Scots are so pro-EU

A recent Polandball political cartoon spoke volumes about the embarrassing situation Britain is facing after its people voted to leave the European Union.

London is on one hand parting company with the rest of Europe, but on the other it is begging Scotland not to part company with it.

Ever since former prime minister Tony Blair allowed Scotland greater autonomy, the Scots have adopted a very strong pro-EU stance.

In the Scottish Parliament, lawmakers who are in favour of leaving the EU are a small minority.

The pro-EU Scottish National Party (SNP), Scotland’s leading political party, vowed after the Brexit referendum that it will seek every possible option to keep Scotland’s EU membership.

The reason why Scotland is so pro-EU is pretty simple: unlike England, the sparsely populated and remote region does not have to bear the brunt of the influx of immigrants and refugees.

As a matter of fact, Scotland does welcome Caucasian immigrants from other parts of Europe to help revitalize its aging labour force.

Besides, in the eyes of most Scots, it is London, rather than Brussels, that is infringing their autonomy.

Scotland’s need to stay in the EU is based on solid economics: as an EU member, all its products and produce can enter the vast European market tariff-free.

Moreover, Scottish businesses also hugely benefit from the various free trade agreements the EU has signed with other countries, particularly emerging markets like China and India.

Apart from tariff-free treatment, Scotland has also, over the years, received a substantial amount of subsidies from the EU through the European Structural and Investment Funds.

Brussels has been funding Edinburgh in its development of housing, education, agriculture and the fishing industry.

As some Scots put it, “while London has abandoned us, Brussels has rallied to our support with money and real help”.

Recently there was talk that the low turnout for the Brexit referendum in the Scottish constituencies, which contributed to the marginal victory of the Brexit faction in Britain overall, was in fact part of a secret plot of the SNP and other Scottish separatists to pave the way for holding another referendum on whether to seek full independence from Britain.

While it may just be a rumor, one thing is for certain: if Scotland holds another referendum on whether to leave the United Kingdom, which SNP leaders have said it will, pro-independence politicians will have a much stronger argument to convince their voters that it would be in the best interests of Scotland to leave Britain, so that it can re-apply for EU membership as an independent state.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on June 28.

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Associate professor and director of Global Studies Programme, Faculty of Social Science, at the Chinese University of Hong Kong; Lead Writer (Global) at the Hong Kong Economic Journal

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