The government of Scotland announced Thursday it has published a draft bill for a second referendum [text] that would give the country the opportunity to consider independence from the UK. The government explained [press release] the move was made to “protect Scotland’s interests in light of the UK vote to leave the EU.” However, it would be up to the Scottish Parliament to decide if and when the referendum will be held. Scotland’s first independence referendum [JURIST report] was held in September 2014 after decades of tensions with the UK. At that time, 84 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in the referendum, with approximately 45 percent voting in favor of Scottish independence and 55 percent voting against independence.
British citizens voted in a referendum in June, choosing to leave [JURIST report] the EU. The vote, an extension of British discontent with the EU, defied the suggestions of economists and British leaders, leading to the resignation of former Prime Minister David Cameron. The implications of this move extend beyond just immigration, though, as many believe this separation will negatively effect the British economy, which will likely be cut off from the EU’s single market, unless an agreement between the two can be reached. Concern over the economic health of Britain [Reuters report] going into the future led to a global market plunge shortly after the vote, as the pound fell as far as 10 percent against the dollar—a low not seen since 1985. The EU has set out a mechanism for leaving in Article 50 [materials] of the Lisbon Treaty, where a member state “may decide to withdraw from the union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements,” and “must notify the European council of its intention.” Earlier this month, the High Court of the UK heard arguments [JURIST report] about the constitutionality of the Brexit referendum.