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Scotland Ponders Solo Future Again as U.K. ‘Brexit’ Looms

A boy and his dog view Cruachan hydro electric power station in Dalmally, Scotland, on Wednesday. Following a “Brexit,” the U.K. would be released from its renewable energy targets under the EU Renewable Energy Directive and from EU state aid restrictions. Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images Sturgeon and her nationalists would also …

Image: A boy and his dog view Cruachan hydro electric power station in Dalmally, Scotland

A boy and his dog view Cruachan hydro electric power station in Dalmally, Scotland, on Wednesday. Following a “Brexit,” the U.K. would be released from its renewable energy targets under the EU Renewable Energy Directive and from EU state aid restrictions. Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images

Sturgeon and her nationalists would also find it easier to sell the idea of independence without the complication of a “Brexit.” In 2014, the SNP argued that a self-ruled Scotland would continue to use the British Pound as its currency and would continue its EU membership, albeit as an independent state.

Under “Brexit,” Scotland would likely be governed by whatever new trade agreement London struck with its former partners unless it sought separate deals or separate EU membership — a move that would almost certainly require adoption of the shared Euro currency. Using two currencies in different parts of Britain would be a headache for businesses in Scotland, where

goods and services sold to the rest of the U.K. were worth $65 billion in 2011 — double the value exported to the rest of the world and four times as much as to the rest of the EU.

Officially, the White House has stayed out of both the “Brexit” debate and the question of Scottish independence, saying that both are matters for Brits to decide. But the Obama administration has let it be known that it would prefer Scotland and England to stay together and for the U.K. to remain inside the EU.

Much of what happens between now and June 23 depends on the success of the rival campaigns, but a key milestone comes May 5 when Scotland holds elections for its own parliament. While that poll concerns domestic issues such as health care and education, the performance of the nationalist SNP will indicate whether public opinion is strong enough to give Sturgeon the confidence to call again for independence after June.

So how realistic is a double separation this summer? John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, sees it as technically possible but otherwise impossible to call. “Scots certainly more inclined to vote to ‘Remain’ in the EU poll,” he told NBC News.

Further complicating the picture is the global fall in oil prices, which has slashed Scotland’s North Sea revenues and, with them, the case for self-reliance.

Image: United Kingdom passport sits on EU flag

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