• Tue. Jun 18th, 2024

Quitting Erasmus has made Scottish independence more likely

ByAdrià Balibrea

Jan 19, 2021

A survey conducted by The Student at the University of Edinburgh has found that 75% of students were more likely to vote for the Scottish National Party (SNP) in May’s Scottish parliamentary election as a result of the UK government’s decision to leave the Erasmus scheme; a mobility programme that guarantees most British students the opportunity to study abroad in Europe as part of their degree, at no extra cost.

Moreover, 98% of students disapprove of the decision to leave Erasmus, with 8 in 10 saying they would find it more difficult to go abroad through other schemes without the generous maintenance grant that Erasmus provides. This comes as SNP Leader Nicola Sturgeon called the move “Cultural Vandalism”. The SNP is also the only major party left in Britain that openly endorses re-joining the European Union, which is responsible for the Erasmus scheme.

The stakes at May’s election could not be higher. Although the secessionist SNP will undoubtedly remain the largest party for the fourth election running, the real question is whether or not they will win an overall majority, something which Scotland’s electoral system is designed to prevent. In 2011, the only time the SNP achieved such a result, this was leveraged by then-SNP Leader Alex Salmond to secure a referendum on Independence from Downing Street.

Polls over the last year have showed a clear consistent majority for Scottish Independence, with the New Statesman’s latest forecast of May’s election giving the Scottish Nationalists a resounding 18-seat majority, with 56% of MSPs. This would beat their record 2011 win; some would say handing them a fresh mandate for a new referendum on Independence. With the odds stacked against Unionists already, the decision on Erasmus has added fuel to the fire, angering students, whose views usually indicate that of young voters as a whole; a large section of the electorate given 16-year-olds are now also eligible to vote.

Boris Johnson justified the decision to leave the Erasmus scheme on the basis that the “UK exchequer lost out”. Needless to say, Scottish Independence would have far more serious consequences for the UK’s purse.

Image: via Wikimedia Commons

By Adrià Balibrea

Comment Editor