By a Newsnet.scot reporter
The UK’s shock decision to leave the European Union has thrown the Scottish constitutional question wide open, with First Minister Nicol sturgeon stating that a second independence is now “highly likely”.
The 52%-48% Brexit vote – led by the English regions and Wales – came on the back of a vicious campaign featuring bitter arguments about immigration and blame for the state of the British economy. Brexit leaders including UKIP’s Nigel Farage and Tory neocons Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Iain Duncan Smith, claimed that millions of Turkish citizens would soon be able to flood EU borders, and that leaving Europe would secure savings of at least £350m each week, both of which have been proven to be untrue.
Prime Minister David Cameron announced his intention to resign after a failed campaign, having presided over the division of the UK from the rest of the EU, and the possible break-up of the UK. He will stand down when a new pro-Brexit leader is elected at the Tory conference in October, which should trigger two years of negotiation to leave the EU.
Nicola Sturgeon has indicated she is to consult the EU about the possibilities of an independent Scotland retaining EU membership. Scotland favoured remaining in the EU by 62%-38%. The highest pro-EU vote was in Edinburgh, which recorded 74% in favour.
Apart from Scotland, where Remain majorities were recorded in all 32 local council areas, Northern Ireland and London were the strongest pro-EU Remain supporting areas. English cities including Liverpool, Manchester, York and Bristol voted to Remain, while large swathes of northern, eastern and south west England backed Leave. A clear majority of Wales also backed Brexit.
Newsnet is recording a podcast discussion of the implications of Brexit, which will be uploaded later today. Academic Prof Iain Docherty and journalists Angela Haggerty and Maurice Smith give their views of the implications for Scotland and the various parties.
Social media is recording evidence of No voters who may be willing to switch to Yes to independence as a result of the UK vote. However, the timing of a one independence referendum will be an issue for the SNP, who will want reassurance of a strong majority vote. There will be issues too about who might oppose independence this time around, most likely only the Tories under Ruth Davidson. Big questions remain about the position of Scottish Labour.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump welcomed the Brexit decision on arrival at Prestwick for the opening of his golf course and hotel at Turnberry, repeating the Leave campaign’s slogan that British people had “taken their country back”. Meanwhile the pound has crashed, international stock markets are fluctuating wildly and there are rumours that one American bank has indicated already that it is to transfer 2,000 jobs out of London and into EU financial centres in either Dublin or Frankfurt.
Newsnet.scot will be updating its coverage of this seismic moment in UK politics tonight and over the weekend.