History and Government Faculty Presentations

Scottish Secession: Prospects for Independence After Blair?

Document Type

Conference Presentation

Event Date



British Politics Group Conference


Chicago, IL


The introduction of a Scottish parliament was, in many regards, the most important constitutional change in the United Kingdom since the Anglo-Irish Act of 1921. Given the stewardship of Tony Blair, Scottish independence was always unlikely; however, are prospects for secession any different under new leadership? Under Gordon Brown, a Scotsman, the nationalist sentiment in Scotland is not likely to rise. However, given the new devolved parliament, the desire for Scottish independence may increase under a staunchly English or conservative leader possibly in the mould of David Cameron. This is all the more possible given a YouGov poll1 in September which suggested that a majority of Scots backed independence over the status quo. While there is still a long way to go before Scottish secession, it is more plausible with a parliament. A referendum on independence is also possible citing the example of Quebec in Canada and would only require the Scottish National Party (SNP) to gain power in the Scottish parliament. A 50% plus one vote would then provide legal grounds to dissolve the 1707 Act of Union. If, in fact, the Scottish desire for independence is realized, does this change Blair’s legacy? John Major once warned against devolution calling it, “the Trojan horse to independence”. An independent Scotland would allow Scots the opportunity for representation at the United Nations and the European Union. Until now, Scotland has only known representation on the world stage via football and rugby pitches. Will this change after Blair leaves Number 10 Downing Street?


Scottish independence, Parliament, Tony Blair, secession


Conference entitled "Britain After Blair: The Legacy and the Future"