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Scottish people’s fears over leaving the UK in a second independence referendum will be considerably lessened in a second ballot, Express.co.uk has been told. It places the Union on a fragile path, handing a serious blow to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s assurances that Scotland will not leave. The Conservatives are reportedly preparing to combat Scottish independence despite rhetoric in the previous months suggesting they have no plans to entertain the idea.
Yesterday, it was announced that Westminster would move at least 500 civil service Cabinet Office jobs to Glasgow by 2024.
A new secondary headquarters north of the border is intended to help Mr Johnson’s redistribute the London-centric power imbalance in the UK.
It has also been suggested that House of Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg is pushing the idea to see the Commons sit in the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish parliaments for a fortnight every year.
But, some believe it is too little too late.
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Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, leader of the separatist Parti Québécois in Canada, told Express.co.uk that when and if Scotland secures a second independence referendum, the fears that hindered the first ballot will not cut through this time.
In his first interview with a British or European media outlet since becoming leader last year, Mr St-Pierre Plamondon said: “From Quebec’s standpoint, what we see in Scotland and in Scotland’s situation is a historical window for independence.
“Something we saw between the first and the second referendums in Quebec was that the argument of fear was less effective the second time round.
“This is because people are more acquainted with the arguments, they have had more time to evaluate from a rational standpoint.
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“So we saw a clear gain from the first to the second referendum, and that might apply to Scotland in the context – I don’t see how Boris Johnson and England will be able to be credible in arguments of fear connected to independence just after the Brexit vote, and all the arguments that were put forward by the Prime Minister himself.”
Much of the arguments for and against independence in 2014 remain similar today.
Logistics surrounding the border between England and Scotland, the welfare state, health service and taxation are all up for debate.
A recent London School of Economic (LSE) study suggested the rise in popularity for independence makes no economic sense.
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Thomas Sampson, associate professor of economics at LSE, told The Daily Telegraph: “What we’re finding is that because that trade with the rest of the UK is more important, that at least for the foreseeable future it wouldn’t really make sense for Scotland to rejoin the EU economically.”
Former First Minister Alex Salmond who led the 2014 vote claimed that Scotland would be able to raise £250million a year more in tax without tax hikes.
He said he would do this by revamping the country’s archaic taxation system, making it harder for people to tax evade and commit fraud.
Yet, almost immediately, the opposition pointed to work carried out by the Institute of Fiscal Studies, which projected a rise in Scottish tax revenue, or a cut in spending, of around £6bn.
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The outfit said Holyrood would have to reverse the rise in debt and push debt down to 40 percent of national income in forty years time, no short order.
Mr St-Pierre Plamondon believes that “once the campaign starts” it is already too late no matter how fear-inducing the arguments against independence are.
He said: “Whether you call it a lie or an over statement, the bottom line is, most of the arguments and the communications during a referendum are oriented towards inducing fear in the population that is about to vote.”
But, while the independence campaign got well underway some months, if not years ago, Robert Tombs, the renowned historian, said it is for this very reason that an independence vote does not seem convincing.
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The majority of polls – bar one or two – have consistently tallied popularity for independence in Scotland at just over 50 percent.
Citing evidence that suggested up to two thirds of people in the UK were dissatisfied with the EU before Brexit, he said: “But only just over half voted to leave because of the economic risks.
“It seems to me if you think that Scotland is similar, you’d have to have at least two thirds of the Scottish electorate saying they wanted independence before it became a serious prospect.
“As far as I know it’s only just over the 50 percent mark, and I can’t believe that’s anywhere near enough to make it happen when there’s already a serious campaign about it.”