MANY NATIONALISTS were hit by the bombshell study back in march by NatCen that showed, surprisingly, that Scotland doesn't want a differentiated deal with the EU post Brexit. That does not mean regional differences cannot be applied within the UK as a whole, but that Scotland does not want or need a special status within the EU.
Indeed Remain voters support, by a plurality, control over migration that is greater than it is now and for it to be no different for EU or non-EU nationals. Is this a surge of support for unionism? I'm not convinced nor am I sure the Remain side was a proxy for independence given we know about a third of SNP voters voted Leave – leaving them with the odd title of the most Eurosceptic party.
Instead, in a polarised, Ulsterised, personalised, politics – loyalty to party leaders carries much sway. All five Holyrood parties backed Remain, it was only when there was a gap between England and Scotland in the voting did the SNP seize on this to show how “different” our view on the EU is. Which is why I'm happy the EU has funded a study that shows Nicola Sturgeon is talking rubbish again (How do citizens across the different regions identify with the EU? - Cohesify).
Taking out the internal Scottish constitutional issues and asking purely EU related questions, as the Cohesify H2020 study does, we see a very different picture (see map below).
First of all, a referendum that is binary treats all votes the same. Whether inked with pidgeon's blood or tickled with pencil, every cross on the ballot carries equal weight. It doesn't matter if someone is reluctantly pro-remain or passionately pro-leave. When asked about the nuances of how attached people feel to the EU and how positive or negative a view of the EU they have, the study finds that EVERY region of the UK except London has both a negative view of the EU and a rather ambivalent attachment to it.
"Take it or leave it, though I don't like it I'm worried about the alternative". To be fair I think this accurately reflects the mood of many people I met on the campaign trail."
Scotland, in regarding the perception of the EU, is as Eurosceptic as northern England, northern Sweden, eastern Germany, Brittany and central Italy. That isn't just for Scotland as a whole, by the way. It is every single region of Scotland showing the same negative view of the EU, coupled with a very neutral overall sense of belonging to it.
This very easily explains the result UK-wide that was pretty evenly split – it was only in Scotland where the Tories hammered the pro EU message along with the SNP and Labour. That we managed 38% for leave despite no major elected representative backing remain shows just how effective leaders are at getting their vote out. When we take out the big cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, much of the rest of Scotland could be easily taken as parts of England when it came to voting. Banff and Buchan went Leave, while Moray was 50/50.
In this sense Remain represented the status quo and after a traumatic Scottish referendum and a landslide SNP victory in 2015 are we surprised? It was more than anything a herald that Scots don't like being jostled about too much by constitutional upheaval, having had enough slices of that gateau to not desire any more anytime time soon.
This explains why the SNP supporters went more towards Leave than the unionists as it represented a dynamism, a change, a stepping stone to true independence from Brussels and London. The study showed that while there were slightly more people with a positive view of the EU in Scotland and the North West of England, when it came to those holding a neutral or negative view there was no difference across Britain.
Why does this matter?
Well, this is the first and probably last piece of research funded by the EU that objectively examined attitudes to the EU by region all across the EU and so taking out both the internal Scottish debate and the dynamic effect of powerful regional leaders uniting behind one position. Not that any deed goes unpunished these days.
In this objective research there is no great difference in how we and England see the EU and coupled with the previous NatCen survey showing we now all want to get on with Brexit, maybe it’s about time we all took the hint and did just that?