Leader: ‘Practical questions will return to fore’

Nicola Sturgeon hinted that Scotland could block the UK's exit from the EU. Picture: SWNS
Nicola Sturgeon hinted that Scotland could block the UK's exit from the EU. Picture: SWNS
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Any attempt to block the UK’s exit from the EU by the Scottish Government would be explosive.

It would cause fury in England and Wales where it would be seen as holding their countries to ransom and ignoring the democratic will of the people of Great Britain. But the dramatic difference in voting patters either side of the Border – and the very real risk that Brexit will be highly damaging to the Scottish economy – will mean that many Scots are likely to support the move.

There is no doubt that the results of last week’s poll demonstrated a very different outlook when it comes to relations with Europe between Scotland and our nearest neighbours. Few would argue that it does not constitute a material change in circumstances, justifying a second independence referendum. Deciding the next step, though, is far from straightforward for Nicola Sturgeon. If she goes for another vote and loses, then the independence cause really will be dead, for at least a generation.

There clearly has been a surge in support for the nationalist cause in the last few days as a direct result of the European referendum result. We cannot be sure though whether that support will stay and grow over the coming months or slide back again. There is a lot of emotion surrounding Brexit right now. A lot of practical questions will return to the fore ahead of any second indie poll. Nationalists will have to make a better job of answering a lot of questions in wavering No voters’ minds if they are to carry the day. The collapse in oil prices, the potential status of our currency and economy and renewed questions about potential border controls are among the issues they will have to address.

No one should rule out the First Minister addressesing all those questions convincingly enough, but she will be wise to follow the example of many others right now and keep her options open.