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Question haunting Scots: Will there be a referendum again – to leave UK or not?

By Sadhan Mukherjee*
The Scots are having a nightmare. Their Scotch seems to have lost its soothing effect on the politico-economic aliment that Scots survived on so far. They voted against leaving European Union (EU) during Brexit referendum hoping that Britain’s membership in the EU will be retained. But they were outvoted by the rest of Britain.
They had even preferred three years ago to remain with Britain foregoing their own independence. They thought that independence from Britain may prevent their own independent membership in the EU due to firm opposition from Spain that is already fighting the Catalan bid for independence.
Scotland now needs EU more than ever before though it’s major economy is integrated with Britain. However, it had developed relations with other EU members over the years and its foreign trade accounted for almost 25% with countries other than Britain.
Now that Brexit is going to be a reality soon, the Scots are worried. They need to remain in the EU but that is not possible if they are a part of Britain. The arguments in favour of remaining within Britain do not seem to hold any water in the prevailing situation. Scotland is heading towards steady fiscal deficits. Its economy is in a shambles. Britain’s booming pre-Brexit economy itself is slowing down and it obviously cannot help Scotland much despite the lip service paid by Prime Minister Therese May.
Scotland’s industry today is in doldrums. Its famous ship building industry that built a number of famous warships and passenger liners including Queen Elizabeth II is in recession. Its textile industry has lost its pre-eminence. Its aircraft industry, especially jet engine manufacturing, is no longer viable and GE and Rolls Royce have shifted the manufacture of their engines elsewhere.
In recent years, basically two liquids supplied Scotland’s economic sustenance – Scotch and Crude oil. Its other major industries include banking and financial services, construction, education, entertainment, biotechnology, transport equipment, gas (mainly from the North Sea), and tourism.
Scotland’s GDP in 2015 was estimated at £152 billion including revenue generated from North Sea oil and gas. Now the oil prices have fallen drastically and North Sea oil and gas seem to be running out. As per latest data available in January 2017; its 2016 third quarter GDP growth was only 0.2%.
Wages are falling; last year, the average pay dropped by about 5%. Scotland is a country of 5 million people and many believe that they would live better as an independent country. Will there be a referendum again – to leave UK or not? This question is haunting all Scotsmen. If such a referendum takes places soon, probably most Scots will vote to get out. Scots with their kilts will then assert their national ethos.
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*Veteran journalist

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