By Thommaso Giacomini
It had been the elephant in the room since the Brexit vote results were communicated, and finally Nicola Sturgeon has called a referendum on Scottish independence. Some might say that not being Scottish my opinion does not matter, and I would agree unless the basis of #IndyRef2 is the membership of the EU, of which I am a proud citizen. Hoping that the campaign will not get as unpleasant as the 2014 one, voters should take into consideration several matters before casting their votes.
Emotionally, Scotland’s independence excites me, as I have grown in love with this country and its people. It does excite millions of citizens as well, but is leaving the United Kingdom the best choice Scotland could make right now? Probably not; as ideology will have to be overshadowed by most practical concerns during the fore-coming debate.
A figure that is bound to be held high by campaigners in favour of remaining in the UK, is that only 16% of Scotland’s £78.6bn exports are directed towards the EU, while £49.8bn are traded with the rest of the UK. Preferring a weak commercial partner over a stronger one does not sound an ideal solution for a country which, independent, would face enormous uncertainties about its future. Furthermore, the SNP would be able to justify the existence of an independent only inside of, if not the European Union, the European Economic Area (EEA). Chances for this to happen in the short-term are slight, given that Brussels will be focused on negotiating the Brexit deal for the next couple of years.
It can also be maintained that a country which wanted to ban Donald Trump from entering its ground based on his border-closing attitude might look hypocritical in wanting to create a border where there has not been one for 310 years.
However, the matter can be approached form a broader, EU-wide perspective. Many fear that the path for Scotland to re-join the EU would be obstructed by countries facing internal pushes for independence as well, such as Spain. Given that Catalunya, as well as Scotland, is strongly pro-Europe, it seems that the actual nationalists are not the smaller countries, wanting to leave their mother nations, but rather the opposite.
Scotland could prosper, like us all, in a federal European Union. Nevertheless, it does not appear that this is the direction to which the continent is heading, hence arguments sustaining that Scotland would be better off within the UK are surely the most compelling ones so far. If it does not want to fall into political oblivion, the SNP must build even stronger ones to support their case, and gain grounds in negotiating terms for a quick Scottish entrance in the EEA at least.
Scotland has the historic and cultural background to claim for independence, even before considering the differences in politics that subsist with its southern neighbour. In my opinion, for as much as thrilling the idea of it becoming independent is, it is not the most rational decision it could take.