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Edinburgh students react to independence referendum announcement

Edinburgh students polled by The Student have reacted in favour of leaving the United Kingdom if a second Scottish independence referendum, announced on Tuesday, goes ahead.

According to a straw poll held on The Student’s Instagram account on the night of the announcement, 69% of respondents would vote “Yes” in an October 2023 referendum.

The poll was held on the paper’s Instagram Stories feed, and saw 197 responses.

These results are similar to the opinions of younger Scots more generally, who in recent years have consistently polled in favour of Scotland leaving the UK.

A recent poll, meanwhile, found the Scottish public nearly evenly divided on the question of independence.

After undecided voters were removed, 51% of voters supported a “No” vote and 49% supported “Yes”.

The poll, held between 23 and 28 June, was conducted by Savanta ComRes on behalf of The Scotsman, with a sample size of 1,029 Scottish adults. Ten percent of those polled were undecided.

Several Edinburgh University students shared their reactions to the referendum announcement with The Student.

Sophia Blum, a second year Social Policy with Quantitative Methods student from Falkirk, is cautiously optimistic about what a “Yes” result could mean.

“It really wasn’t a shock to see Sturgeon is pushing for indyref2.

“I am pro independence because for the vast majority of my life, Scotland has not gotten a government we have voted for yet are still subject to many of their policies and laws.”

She said that she supports EU membership for an independent Scotland, but worries about the practicality of Scotland rejoining the bloc.

“Spain has a large influence and given their situation with Catalonia, I don’t think they would respond well to Scotland’s independence from the UK.”

Sophia concluded that, even with her concerns about the difficulties of EU membership, she would still vote “Yes”.

Lucy Ross, a third year Law student from Glasgow, supports independence and would vote “Yes” in October 2023.

“Purely from a pride point of view, I’m pretty patriotic for Scotland, I’ve represented my country in sport so it’s another layer of being proud of where I come from.”

However, she believes the timing of the referendum is too soon after the last vote.

“I think we should maybe have waited longer after the first one, it’s not even been 10 years yet.

“I don’t think there has been a big enough change in opinion from older generations to sway the vote.”

Lucy said she understood the SNP’s justification for calling for the referendum, describing Brexit as a substantial enough change in political conditions to justify another vote.

She says she is not “filled with confidence” about Nicola Sturgeon leading Scotland through independence, however she thinks Nicola Sturgeon will “do the best she can.”

The Student could not reach any Scottish students who were supportive of a “No” option at a hypothetical referendum before time of press.

An undergraduate student from Edinburgh spoken to by The Student changed their voting intention from “No” to a likely “Yes” after first being interviewed by the paper.

“I wouldn’t vote yes because I think Scotland is the better or best nation.

“But I would if it brought us back to the EU, increased funds in the arts, and prevented the interference of Westminster.”

They explained that they found some areas of conversation around Scottish independence to be distasteful.

“When it comes to the yes vote, the most I’ve been seeing is a lot of intense Scottish nationalism that sort of reminds me how a lot of people in America show off their pride.

“I think it’s almost overshadowed the real pros of independence.”

The student said their father’s recollection of his experience growing up in Northern Ireland during the Troubles had some weight on their voting decision.

“He does worry things will fall the same way as they did there, where instead of fighting with England we fight amongst each other.”

Nicola Sturgeon’s government has referred the question of whether or not the Scottish Parliament can legally call a referendum independent of Westminster to the Supreme Court.

The first minister also sent Boris Johnson a letter on Tuesday, asking him to start negotiations on a referendum with her government.

Image “The Scottish Parliament” by dun deagh is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

By Joe Sullivan

Hey there, I'm Joe! I'm The Student's marketing officer - meaning I run the paper's social media accounts - alongside being one of the paper's News Editors.

I love reporting on local happenings here in Edinburgh, and am always looking for tips on what the paper should be looking in to or covering.

If you'd like to tip me - or if you'd like to chat otherwise - I can be found at...

Email - josephsullivanwrites (at) gmail (dot) com
WhatsApp & Signal (not by text message) - 07909 399 518
Twitter - @_josephsullivan
Instagram - @joe92743