Brexit and Scotland: Between Two Unions

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This article addresses the territorial dimension of the Brexit referendum and its consequences, especially with respect to devolution and the independence debate within Scotland. The convincing Scottish majority vote for Remain alongside the UK vote to leave the EU has exposed the difficulties in reconciling rival self-determination claims. The Brexit vote has also raised again the issue of Scotland’s place within the UK, and for some justifies reconsideration of the decision the Scottish electorate made to remain within the UK by rejecting independence in 2014. The article considers the explanations for the Remain vote in Scotland, and the reactions of the Scottish and UK Governments to the competing preferences north and south of the border. It argues that the ‘one nation’ nationalist rhetoric of the UK Government in the aftermath of the vote is at odds with the plurinational character of the United Kingdom. It critically examines the effects of the Brexit process to date on the influence and constitutional authority of the devolved institutions, while pointing to the challenges that would confront advocates of independence were that issue to re-emerge as the Brexit process unfolds.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-78
JournalBritish Politics
Issue number1
Early online date19 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • brexit
  • self-determination
  • Scotland
  • devolution
  • independence


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