Johnson faces battle to retain Scotland while Brexit deal shows scars

Photographer: Hollie Adams / Bloomberg

Prime Minister Boris Johnson may be defending his last-minute trade deal with Brexit, but he faces a battle with Scotland in the coming months, which could also decide the UK’s future direction.

An hour after announcing that an agreement with the European Union was reached on Thursday, Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon quickly reaffirmed his demand for a second vote on the separation of the three-century union with England and Wales.

“Before starting the tour, it is worth remembering that Brexit is happening against the will of Scotland,” she wrote on Twitter. “There is no agreement that can compensate for what Brexit takes from us.”

PM Johnson Eyes election after Parliament Forcing Brexit Delay

Photographer: Hollie Adams / Bloomberg

Scotland, which voted 62% to 38% to remain in the EU in 2016, is expected to hold elections for its decentralized legislature in Edinburgh in May. Research suggests that Sturgeon’s pro-independence Scottish National Party could win a majority that would reinforce it promise to hold a referendum on the departure of the United Kingdom at the start of the new parliament.

This would increase the stalemate between London and Edinburgh, with Johnson so far refusing to sanction a second vote. His Conservative Party officials have already raised the alarm about Scotland and the need to fight the SNP.

The trade agreement with the EU opens up “great opportunities” for Scottish companies, Scotland’s Secretary of State, Alister Jack, said on Thursday. This is unlikely to calm Scottish companies, which are already struggling with the burden of the coronavirus pandemic, according to Sturgeon.

“Scotland did not vote for any of this and our position is clearer than ever,” said Sturgeon. “Scotland now has the right to choose its own future as an independent country and once again recover the benefits of EU membership.”