In Thursday’s 2017 British general election, we saw shifts of opinion and change of mood within the United Kingdom: Theresa May and Scottish Independence are both on their way out. While the conservatives may have lost their majority in parliament, after May’s failed gamble, they have secured the preservation of the union that makes the United Kingdom.
In her first speech as Prime Minister on the steps of 10 Downing Street, Theresa May highlighted that her party’s full title was “the Conservative and Unionist Party”, going on to say “that word Unionist is very important to me. It means we believe in the Union. That precious, precious bond between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland”. It seems to be one of the few promises she’s been able to fulfill in her short time as prime minister.
Post E.U. referendum in June 2016, when Scotland voted to remain in the E.U. by 62% to 32%, first Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, vowed to seek another Independence referendum from Westminster. Suggesting that it was the foremost reason why Scottish citizen voted to remain in the U.K. in 2014. In early 2017 she bought that same notion to the floor of the Scottish Parliament, where the motion carried 69 to 59, prompting the first minister to write the section 30 letter to Theresa May, a formal process of requesting permission to hold an independence referendum. The Scottish Secretary, David Mundell, rejected the request on behalf of the government. Mrs. May stated that now was “not the right time”, harping on the notion that the nation must go into E.U. negotiations united.
The recent general election displayed how the Scottish people felt about being used as pawns for another referendum. Compared to the general election in 2015 whereas all Scottish constituencies, except three, went to the Scottish National Party (S.N.P.); this election reversed that phenomenon. This election saw the SNP losing the 21 seats they had gained previous, the conservatives gaining 12, Labour gaining 6, and the Liberal Democrats gaining 3. Not to mention the ousting of Alex Salmond, the former SNP leader and head of the independence campaign, who lost his seat; as well as the outspoken SNP leaders in the House of Commons, Angus Robertson. Since the overwhelming rejection of the SNP and their manifesto, First Minister Sturgeon has lower her independence rhetoric. While many of her colleagues and critics demand it be taken off the table completely.
This call for another referendum was pushed too forcefully and in retrospect seems to have been done only for Sturgeon’s personal gain. Trends have shown her popularity is in declined and she faces mounting pressure from within her party. This is not to say that the Independence movement is dead, but has certainly suffered a prolonged setback. It will only be until after Britain has officially left the E.U. that we’ll know where Scotland stands in reference to the Union.