For so many of my friends in Scotland the announcement by their government that they are to have a second independence referendum, was greeted with dismay. They regarded the last one as so divisive and unpleasant that they have no enthusiasm to repeat the process, particularly given that they were assured that the last one was to be a once in a generation experience.
I expect we’d feel the same if were told we had re-run the EU referendum.
What generated substantial correspondence from my constituents the last time that Scotland had an independence referendum, was the question of the franchise: There are a surprisingly large number of people living in the New Forest, who regard themselves as Scottish and believe that they should have a right to vote on the future status of what they see as their own country.
The difficulty is that we are all British subjects and there is no legal means of distinguishing between us as citizens of our kingdom’s constituent parts. The right to vote in Scotland, like voting in any other part of Great Britain, is dependent only upon having a residential address there (assuming you are old enough, a UK subject or a citizen of the Republic of Ireland for general elections, or of any other EU country for local elections).
If the residents of Scotland are to have a second independence referendum, and were they, this time, to vote to leave the UK, one of the principal difficulties would be in defining our separate nationalities. How would we go about it?
Would it be decided simply on where you are living on the determining date?
How else could we proceed, given the extent to which we are inter-married?
How would people claiming a heritage in one part of the Kingdom, but living in another, have their nationality resolved?
An independent Scotland might well set about this task quite differently from the remainder of the UK, leaving some people potentially stateless.
At the very least it would be a very distressing and dismal process.
The Union of England and Scotland over 400 years ago was sought by the Scottish Parliament for financial reasons, after a currency crisis. Since then however, we have effectively become one country and one people to such an extent that unwinding the union will make our leaving the EU a piece of cake by comparison. I can quite understand the lack of enthusiasm about putting the question a second time.