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Scottish Response To Brexit And U.K. Elections


Brexit is finally coming to the United Kingdom. Or at least that is the promise after the resounding win by Boris Johnson and his Conservative Party. That means that England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland will no longer be part of the European Union once the deal gets done.

But in Scotland, a different message was sent by the ballot box this week. Scots overwhelmingly voted for the Scottish National Party, which is advocating independence from the U.K. so that it can remain in Europe. We have Emma Harper on the line. She's an SNP member of the local Scottish Parliament, and she's going to tell us more. Good morning.

EMMA HARPER: Good morning, Lulu. Thank you for speaking to me this morning.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: The head of your party, Nicola Sturgeon, said yesterday - and I'm quoting here - "Scotland very clearly wants a different future to the one that's been chosen by much of the rest of the U.K. And Scotland wants to have the right to choose its own future." Boris Johnson says that isn't going to happen, and he's not authorizing a second referendum on independence. What now?

HARPER: In Scotland, we have a different approach to how the government is running the country. And I think democracy should prevail. That's the bottom line.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And what does that look like? I mean, Scotland tried a referendum in 2014. Most voted then to remain. What makes this time different?

HARPER: Well, in 2014, it was still pretty close. And a lot of the messages that were given to the people in Scotland in 2014 was if you voted no, you would be OK and remain in the EU. But it has completely, you know, turned around since then.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Your party won 48 out of 59 seats. I mean, that is a pretty resounding victory. Why are Scots feeling so differently about Brexit than England and Wales?

HARPER: The people that I'm speaking to realize that we need our EU citizens, our EU friends to work in Scotland and support our businesses and support our economy.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: What I'm hearing you say there - that there is no desire by Scots to be led for five years by a Tory government in London.

HARPER: Well, no. It is an awful, daunting thought to have five years of Boris Johnson and his cronies.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Well, what can you do? Because, legally, it is the government there that gets to decide if a Scottish referendum can take place.

HARPER: Next week when we are back in Parliament, my understanding is that the first minister is going to set forward a plan if they profess to have democracy. We need the government to agree what's called a Section 30 order. We had a Section 30 order granted for the 2014 referendum. So why can't we have another Section 30 order to approve another referendum?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: What your party is advocating could lead to the breakup of the U.K. Is that a future you are prepared for? We've seen what the U.K. leaving the EU has been like. Are you promising something that might not be either easy or good for the country financially?

HARPER: Well, financially, Scotland is very, very strong economically. I mean, Scotland actually exports more than it imports. Our diverse portfolio for salmon, beef, lamb - including whisky and even our renewable energy.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Finally, you know, the EU is also not in favor of countries splitting up. Are you certain that they would welcome this?

HARPER: The EU leadership has already intimated that Scotland would be welcomed to join. The rest of the EU will want what's best for everyone.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's local Scottish MP Emma Harper. Thank you so much.

HARPER: Thank you, Lulu. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.