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Wednesday, August 5, 2020 10:01:55 PM
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Independence not on ballot, but on voters' minds in Scotland

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SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon holds a baby in Dalkeith, whilst on the General Election campaign trail in Midlothian, Scotland on Wednesday.

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07th-Dec-2019       
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AP, Scotland :
Ask voters in this picturesque university town in eastern Scotland how they're voting in next week's election, and they're likely to transition seamlessly from talking about which candidate they want to send to Parliament to discussing whether or not they want another bite at voting for Scottish independence, which voters rejected in 2014.
The question of Scotland's independence from the rest of the United Kingdom is not on the ballot, but it's uppermost in the minds of many voters in St. Andrews, and elsewhere in Scotland, as they make their final choices.
That's because the decision to take the United Kingdom out of the European Union - known as Brexit - has upended the political landscape and exposed old divisions among England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, fraying the ties that bind the U.K. In Scotland, that means talk of independence. In Northern Ireland, it means fears that the sectarian violence that plagued it for decades could return.
These issues, and Brexit itself, are just below the surface in the Dec. 12 general election. Rarely has an election been so fraught with implications for the future of the United Kingdom, a structure often taken for granted because of its familiar symbols - the queen who has reigned for more than six decades, the Parliament that is centuries old - but is vulnerable as it engineers a radical change in its relations with the rest of Europe. Voters in Scotland overwhelmingly chose to remain in the EU in the 2016 referendum, so it's fair to say Scotland is being dragged through Brexit against its will.
The North East Fife district that is home to St. Andrews was the tightest in the United Kingdom's last general election - only two votes meant victory for the Scottish Nationalists over the Liberal Democrats in 2017 - and the foes are grappling again. While they are united in their rejection of Brexit, they are divided over whether Scotland should vote, again, on its own independence.
The Scottish Nationalists say yes, that Brexit is so dire it merits another vote on whether Scotland, an economic player in its own right, blessed with ample energy resources, natural beauty, and a rich tradition of self-sufficiency, should forge its own way as an independent nation. The Liberals, meanwhile, remain committed to remaining inside the U.K., even if Britain extricates itself from the European Union as scheduled on Jan. 31.
Retired boxer Chris Honess has no doubt where he stands: He's going to vote against the Scottish Nationalists with the hope of quelling talk of another independence referendum. He thinks the whole structure of European defense would be threatened if Scotland breaks away.
"I am 100% against the breakup of the United Kingdom," said Honess, 69. "I think we're very good at complaining, actually the U.K. works very, very well. If the SNP (Scottish Nationalist Party) were to succeed in breaking up the United Kingdom that would definitely weaken NATO, and I'm a huge supporter of NATO."

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