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Spotlight: No-deal Brexit prospect could bring Scottish independence vote forward

Source: Xinhua| 2019-09-21 00:39:00|Editor: Yamei
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EDINBURGH, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) -- The increasing prospect of a no-deal Brexit could put the second Scottish Independence referendum onto a fast track as the historic geopolitical shift may further sour the fragile relations between Westminster and the pro-Remain region.

Analysts believed that Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is set to accelerate her timetable for a second independence referendum if British Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers a no-deal Brexit.

She said there was "growing urgency" for Scotland to become independent "sooner rather than later" weeks after Johnson was sworn in as the British prime minister with a pledge of Brexit with or without a deal.

TIPPING POINT

Professor Michael Keating, chair in Scottish politics at the University of Aberdeen, told Xinhua Tuesday that the attitudes in Scotland towards independence from London were changing.

"Scotland may be approaching a 'tipping point'," he said.

The most recent poll showed the first lead for an independent Scotland for more than two years. According to the new poll 47 percent of respondents in Scotland now want another independence referendum, with 45 percent disagreeing.

If a second poll was held, 46 percent would vote Yes to independence, and 43 percent would say No, the poll said.

In the 2016 Brexit referendum, Scotland voted in favor of Britain staying in the European Union by 62 percent to 38 percent. Business leaders from port operator to fishermen are concerned over a no-deal Brexit prospect which they believe could harm local economy which is traditionally close to Europe.

Scottish National Party politician Gillian Martin, who represents Aberdeenshire East at Holyrood, said she had detected a shift in mood among her constituents.

Martin said in an earlier media interview: "Everyone I know knows someone who's changed their mind from No to Yes. Of course, not everyone is champing at the bit to have another referendum - people are weary of the amount of times they've been asked to go to the ballot box in the past few years.

"There's still a nervousness about independence. But Aberdeenshire is a bellwether. If we could get past 50 percent here, there would be a landslide across Scotland."

HARDEST HIT CITY

It is believed that a no-deal Brexit would give the Scots the hard choice between Britain's internal market and that of the European Union, leaving Scottish business which has traditionally focused on servicing the oil and gas industry in an awkward position.

In Aberdeen, one of Europe's largest operational ports has been preparing itself for a no-deal Brexit scenario by carrying on an ambitious expansion project.

Michelle Handforth, Chief Executive of Aberdeen Harbor Board, has said that the port's 350-million-pound (430 million U.S. dollars) expansion plan, the biggest marine construction project underway in Britain, will continue.

" In this way the port is preparing itself for all eventualities, including Brexit," she said.

An earlier research examining for the first time the potential impact of Brexit on cities and towns has found Aberdeen could be the "hardest hit" by higher trade costs with the European Union, though no British city will escape its effects.

The Scottish city has 37 international shipping connections, 14 of which are to other European countries.

This month, organizers said an estimated nearly 12,000 people had taken part in a pro-independence demonstration in Aberdeen, which is believed to be the biggest ever demonstration in favor of independence in the northern east Scottish city.

Neil Mackay, founder of the high-profile Scottish independence pressure group All Under One Banner which organized the demonstration, told Xinhua that he is confident than ever that the Scottish people will win a new referendum as they build up momentum across Scotland.

"With Brexit looming and Boris Johnson as prime minister, our support is growing," he said. "We want to grab the moment."

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