The prospect of a second referendum in Scotland in the wake of Brexit is just a fallacy; it’s not going to happen.
Sturgeon’s second term in office as First Minister will be remembered in history as an administration that became too preoccupied with the Brexit vote. She failed to get the result she wanted and wasted her time meeting EU leaders to try and secure a ‘unique’ deal for Scotland whilst laying out a set of Brexit tests.
Many of these tests include: Scotland retaining access to the Single Market, participating in counter-terrorism measures via Europol, and keeping the free movement of labour.
Despite her insistence at a UK-wide approach to Brexit, May has warned Sturgeon that No.10 will have the final say on Brexit, not Sturgeon.
Sturgeon is bound by the 2014 Edinburgh Agreement to not hold a second referendum as the first one was seen as a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity.
However, these are not the only barriers to her plans which make the notion of Scotland leaving the UK impractical.
Firstly, opinion polls suggest that many Scots are not in favour of a second referendum. A recent Survation poll shows that 44.7% of people think Scotland should not conduct a second referendum, compared to 41.9% in favour of a second vote.
The results of the EU Referendum in Scotland showed that SNP voters were the most Eurosceptic out of all the voters of the main parties there. 29% of SNP voters backed Brexit, compared to 27% of Conservative voters and 17% of Labour voters. Sturgeon risks alienating many of her own voters if she decides to hold a second referendum.
Even though many in the SNP claim that 62% of Scots voted to remain in the EU, the reality is not that simple. 67% of Scots bothered to vote in the EU Referendum. That means 33% of Scots did not vote at all. How they would have voted will now remain an unresolved mystery, but it is difficult for Sturgeon to claim she has a mandate for independence within the EU when a third of Scots did not vote at all.
And Sturgeon needs all the votes she can get if she hopes to win a majority in the next set of Scottish elections. This year, the SNP fell two seats short of winning a majority, winning 63 seats in Holyrood. With a lack of support for a second referendum from Ruth Davidson’s resurgent Conservative Party, it will be very difficult for Sturgeon to win a majority of MSPs in support of a second referendum.
Finally, it is not just opposition from Scottish politicians she will have to face, but opposition from the EU itself. Both Spain and France have already announced that they will veto Scotland’s application to rejoin the EU after leaving the UK should a second referendum ever happen. This is due to secessionist issues in their own countries.
Regardless of Sturgeon’s rhetoric, it is safe to say that all these empty threats about a second referendum make the prospect of holding one a pure fallacy. Many politicians find they cannot always fulfill their promises due to obstacles beyond their control. And Sturgeon is no exception. This will make passing legislation on the issue difficult, and even if she succeeded, there’s no guarantee Sturgeon win a second referendum.