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4/27/16

Scotland: North Sea oil, Brexit and Scottish independence - by Alasdair Soussi

As Scotland looks ahead to its fifth general election since the opening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999, questions surrounding the nation's constitutional future have remained doggedly persistent.

While the election on May 5 will be held to determine which party assumes the role of the next devolved Scottish government, the spectre of Scotland's September 18, 2014 independence referendum - in which Scots rejected independence from the British state by 55 to 45 percent - has loomed large over the domestic political scene.

Yet, despite the current political supremacy of the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) - which took 56 out of 59 Scottish seats in last year's UK parliamentary general election and is looking odds-on to secure a third successive Scottish Parliament victory next month - its continued push for an independent Scottish state was recently dealt a series of economic blows.

While the May 5 election campaign has seen the major issues of taxation, health and education debated among party leaders, the independence factor has never been too far away.

Indeed, with the UK's in/out EU referendum scheduled for June 23, SNP leader and Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon has mooted the prospect of a second Scottish independence referendum in the event that Scotland, by way of a UK-wide vote, is ejected from the EU against its will. A recent opinion poll suggested that Scots would be split 50/50 on independence if there were a British exit from the EU. 

Thus, after the forthcoming Scottish Parliament election, which, according to opinion polls, the SNP is expected to win handsomely, the economic arguments surrounding Scottish independence are unlikely to fade.
"Of course Scotland could make it as a successful, wealthy independent country - but the economic and fiscal question is how it would be different outside the UK than inside the UK," said independent economist McLaren.

"If oil was at $100 a barrel and we were back in 1999, it would be better off because we would have all those future oil revenues. But fast-forward to 2015 and there is almost nothing coming out of the North Sea."

Read more: North Sea oil, Brexit and Scottish independence - Al Jazeera English

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