IMPACT – MEDIUM
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she is prepared to push for a possible second referendum on Scottish independence from the United Kingdom as the U.K. prepares to begin negotiations on leaving the European Union.
The U.K. narrowly voted to leave the EU in June, but Scotland’s voters overwhelmingly voted to remain, creating further tension between the devolved Scottish government and the U.K. government in Westminster.
“I am determined that Scotland will have the ability to reconsider the question of independence and to do so before the U.K. leaves the EU if that is necessary to protect our country’s interest,” Sturgeon said Thursday at a Sottish National Party conference.
Background: Publishing a bill for consultation is only a first step toward a second Scottish independence referendum and is no guarantee that a second vote will be held. That said, it is clear that Sturgeon and May do not see eye-to-eye on the best path forward either for Scotland or the U.K. as a whole, particularly on the immigration issue.
Scotland’s economic need to support the oil and gas industry and other sectors that rely on a mobile migrant work force, and a social commitment to reject what some see as xenophobic proposals, put Sturgeon and May, and Scotland and the U.K., on very different political footing.
BAL Analysis: Whether Scotland eventually develops different immigration policies than the U.K, either by achieving independence or through political negotiations, remains to be seen. Separate immigration policies have been put in place for Scotland in the past (e.g., the Fresh Talent – Working in Scotland Scheme). This approach could allow different, and more flexible, treatment of migrants in a post-Brexit U.K. immigration regime.
This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.
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