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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.
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Polling data from Panelbase shows that, if Britain quit the EU, Scottish respondents would vote 52 percent ‘Yes’ to independence from England and 48 percent ‘No’ — a reversal of the number if Britain chooses to remain.
“That is well below the 60 percent figure that we were advised the the SNP would want to see in polls before it took the risk of a second independence ballot,” Curtice said.
However, there is “reason to believe that some voters might switch sides on the independence question,” leaving everything still to play for.