23rd June 2016

Scotland votes to remain in the EU

When prime minister David Cameron called a general election in 2015, the ruling Conservative Party included a promise in its manifesto that, if returned to power, it would hold a referendum on the United Kingdom’s continued membership of the European Union, which it had joined in 1973.

At the time, it seemed unlikely that the referendum would take place. The Conservatives were only in power because they had formed a coalition government with the pro-EU Liberal Democrats, and it didn’t look likely that the party would gain sufficient votes to win an overall majority. Logic would dictate, therefore, that should it remain the party with the most seats and thus have the right to try and form a government, it would look to extend the coalition with the Liberal Democrats.

A condition of any further partnership would likely be the abandonment of the promise of a referendum.

Electoral upset

However, the Conservative Party took 36.9% of the vote which, under Britain’s first past the post electoral system, was sufficient to give it an overall majority, with 330 seats, and no need to form a coalition (in Scotland, the SNP significantly improved on past performance, increasing its seats in the Westminster Parliament from six to 56). The Conservative Party was thus committed to delivering on its promise of a referendum, which it did on 23 June 2016.

Opinion polls leading up to the referendum predicted a comfortable victory for the Remain camp. However, as the count progressed it became clear that the polls had been wrong and, less than six hours after polling stations closed, the BBC forecast a win for the Leave campaign. In the final analysis, 51.89% of votes cast expressed a preference for leaving the European Union, against 48.11% opting to remain.

Scotland votes ‘remain’

In Scotland, however, the trend was reversed, with a strong majority (62%) voting to remain. Every council area in the country had a majority for remaining a member of the European Union, with the slimmest margin in Moray (50.1% remain; 49.9% leave) and the widest in the City of Edinburgh (74.4% remain; 25.6% leave).

While the results were being tallied, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told the BBC, “Scotland has delivered a strong, unequivocal vote to remain in the EU, and I welcome that endorsement of our European status… the vote here makes it clear that the people of Scotland see their future as part of the European Union.”

Removed without consent

Although Scotland (and Northern Ireland) voted not to leave the European Union, it was nonetheless removed from it with the remainder of the United Kingdom on 31 January 2020. In the months that followed the referendum – and again following the country’s departure from the bloc, calls for a second referendum on Scottish Independence grew stronger, with opinion polls suggesting that, contrary to the outcome in the Scottish Referendum on Independence of 2014, such a vote would this time be more likely to result in the dissolution of the United Kingdom.



Other events that occured in June

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