What does Brexit mean for Scotland and the UK?

ScottishFabiansScottish Fabians is hosting a half-day conference in Edinburgh this coming Saturday to discuss the challenges and opportunities of the EU referendum result. Sign up to attend here.


On 23 June the United Kingdom voted by 52% to 48% to leave the European Union. Scotland voted by 62% to 38% to remain in the EU. After a tumultuous summer, which saw the resignation of the Prime Minister and a leadership contest in the Labour Party, it is clear that we will leave the EU. Attention must now turn to the terms of our departure after 43 years of membership, and the economic, social, and constitutional consequences for Scotland and the UK.

So far, there has been little attempt from those on the political left to define Brexit or set out a compelling vision of what the UK might look like after leaving the European Union. But the need to do so is urgent. We also need to understand why so many voters in traditionally Labour areas voted to leave. There seem to be many reasons beyond the question asked in the referendum itself, but we have only just begun to unpick these.

Meanwhile, of course, the referendum result has put enormous strain on the relationships between the constituent parts of the UK.

On Saturday 8th October, the Scottish Fabians will host a half-day conference in Edinburgh, providing a much needed opportunity to discuss the challenges and opportunities of the EU referendum result. This important conference will consider what the referendum result means for Scotland and the UK and how progressives north and south of the border should respond.

The conference will address a number of questions:

  • What does Brexit mean for the future of the UK, and how can the Labour Party position itself in a new round of constitutional debate?
  • Does Labour need to develop a new vision of devolution for the post-Brexit era?
  • What does a future outside the EU have in store for Scotland?
  • What does the referendum result say about voters’ concerns and how can the left respond?
  • What lessons can Labour learn from the rise of nationalism and identity politics?

The conference will feature a keynote address from John Denham, former Labour MP for Southampton Itchen. John, who has written extensively about English identity in recent years, will discuss the rise of English nationalism and how it may have contributed to the EU referendum result. He will make some wider observations about the relationship between England and Scotland in the aftermath of Brexit. Ian Murray MP will also offer his thoughts.

As well as these high profile speakers, the conference will feature a panel discussion chaired by Sarah Boyack. Stephen Boyd, Assistant Secretary of the STUC, David Martin MEP, and Professor Nicola McEwan of the Centre on Constitutional Change at Edinburgh University will offer insights into the economic, social and constitutional aspects of Brexit. There will then be an opportunity for participants to discuss their own views around these themes.

This conference provides a great opportunity for progressives in Scotland to consider the referendum result and begin to work out how we should respond to Britain’s departure from the EU. The conference will run from 2pm to 5.15pm on Saturday at Central Hall, 2 West Tollcross, Edinburgh, EH3 9BP. You can sign up here. We look forward to seeing you.

Related Posts

11 thoughts on “What does Brexit mean for Scotland and the UK?

  1. “So far, there has been little attempt from those on the political left to define Brexit or set out a compelling vision of what the UK might look like after leaving the European Union”

    Perhaps because the political left has been sidelined and pushed out from any part being played with regards to the negotiations.
    Brexit is an extremist right wing coup its going to be negotiated along extremist right wing ideological needs and wants which wont by their very nature allow advantage to any of the minor constituent parts of the UK.
    The vision will indeed be compelling but it wont be allowed to have any left wing ideas attached to it.

    “We also need to understand why so many voters in traditionally Labour areas voted to leave.”

    You already understand and know the answer to that question but wont publically admit what the problem is so I’ll remind you what the problem is.
    In England and Wales traditional Labour voters were disenfranchised from Labour when Labour turned away from them to become another Tory party.
    They turned to UKIP because they didn’t see UKIP as being mainstream and part of the UK established Tory elite the way they now view Labour.
    In Scotland of course they had a better choice with the Left of centre social democratic SNP.

    Labour will respond in a UK context. Completely ignoring the constitutional divide because you’re a UK political party which means you will have to make your futile attempts to involve yourselves in the process from the English Welsh perspective.

    I say futile because as ive previously mentioned this is and extremist right wing coup and only the Conservative Tories will steer Brexit towards their end game. They will welcome Labours right wing Red Tory support but will ignore any attempts to water down their extremist right wing approach to the negotiations.
    Cant see that being a problem for Labour Fabians though eh?

  2. I love your questions, No 4 “What does the referendum result say about voters concerns and how can the left respond?”,

    Well with the result being a resounding 62 % for remain in Scotland, I would guess Scotland would not like being taken out of the EU against its will.

    As for how the left will respond, if by the left you mean labour (Scottish) they will do “sweet fanny adams”. They have no power, no support and certainly no ideas. They will sell this country to Tory Westminster to keep their party snouts in the trough no matter how small the trough is becoming.

    Our country deserves more but they won’t get it from Labour.

    Hae yer conference, nought will come out of it for Scotland.

  3. Be nice to know why Dugdale is so reluctant to sign up to the joint left wing coalition against the Tory stance on immigration and the registration of foreign workers in the UK.

    Doesn’t have a problem sharing a stage with the Conservatives but balks at sharing a stage with actual left wing socialists and social democrats.

    Is this seriously how Labour plan to fight back in Scotland? You don’t feel your right wing Tory credentials have been established firmly enough?

    1. That pretty much mirrors my posting below. Where is Labour’s response to what seems to be a rise in (overwhelmingly) English xenophobia and a possible tip over into racism? The reaction bears an uncanny resemblance to the way that Miliband and co caved in to the anti-Scottish campaign waged by Crosby for his Tory paymasters during the 2015 general election. They didn’t oppose it on democratic principle but went along with it as a “kinder, gentler” form of anti-Scottishness: disguised as being merely anti-SNP.

  4. In the 1970’s “old” Labour was the euro sceptic party and the Conservatives were pro European. Furthermore, during these times the SNP were also a euro sceptic party!

    It’s a strange world, when the Labour Party and the SNP are both banging on about protecting the European Single Market, it’s curious as to why they’re so concerned about saving a free market Thatcherite policy.

    The other EU policy that the “left” seems intent on saving is the Free Movement of people. This other “free market” policy is widely despised by the British working class. Who are routinely rounded upon as being racist, stupid and uneducated for daring to oppose it.

    The European Union is a sewer; we are well shot of it.

    The SNP’s vision of an independent Scotland within the EU is going to be a hard one to sell, especially as 40% of the SNP support broke ranks and voted for Brexit.

    The SNP position on the EU is a joke. If they were truly interested in more power being invested upon the Scottish people they would have wanted out of the EU.

    I don’t agree with Scottish Independence, but I do respect people like Jim Sillars, who actually want Scotland to be a proper independent country.

    Sturgeons; “there will be another referendum if Scotland is taken out of the EU against her will” was a third rate con trick.

    The SNP followers should face the facts: Your leadership is leading you a merry dance; it’s all over, there isn’t going to be another Scottish independence referendum.

    1. It must mean that the EU has gotten itself into a position where it is more left of centre than Westminster.

      Seems its the English and Welsh working class who are concerned about immigration not the British working class.

      The UK union is a far bigger sewer yet you seem to be content to wallow in it happily.

      Wont be hard to sell and end to the UK within an EU at all. The Tories are doing most of the work for us. And only 11% of SNP voters support Brexit.

      The Uncle Tam position in the union is beyond a joke. You talk about freedom from the EU when the ONLY yoke Scotland finds itself in is the Westminster yoke.

      What is a proper Independent country in a world of interdependency Andy? which country is properly Independent in your misty eyed world Andy?

      So what should we SNP followers do Andy vote New Tory Labour or Old Tory Conservative? Or perhaps UKIP? What do you suggest?

      Just another worthless rant about nothing.

      1. The SNP are flogging a dead horse with the independence within the EU.

        It was actually Jim Sillars who thought up this line and it won him the Govan by election for the SNP back in 1988.

        This policy stance has served the SNP very well for many years, however, as the EU became ever more powerful, independence within the EU became little more than “plastic” independence.

        Now that we are leaving the EU, the SNP are pretty much snookered.
        Even if Sturgeon called a second independence referendum (which she can’t, as she doesn’t have the power), there is no way she could get anywhere near a majority, as we will no longer have the safety net of the EU.

        It’s back to the drawing board for the SNP.

        Brexit has burst your balloon.

        1. The SNP doesn’t have to flog anything Andy. They don’t even have to lift a single finger to trigger Indyref. Right wing fascist xenophobia South of the border is doing all the work for us.
          That coupled with a worthless ineffective Labour opposition promising decades of right wing fascist Government and Indyref 2 is as inevitable as the result will be.
          In or out of the EU Right wing extremist Tory excesses will deliver Scottish Independence quicker and more effectively than any Yes campaign.

    2. Many of them, like myself maybe saw it as a tactical vote and a way to force a second Independence Referendum.

      What the EU Reeferendum has shown is the rise of English nationalism which is also a threat to this so called precious union.

  5. If Scottish Labour ally with the SNP on independence, and public purse support for party politics, then their joint success and hence Independence will mean Scottish Labour near at last to achieving real power in Scotland and so leaving the SNP without an obvious roll. What the hell are Scottish Labour waiting for?

  6. Is it possible for people in Labour to get real for once and start acting (Note that word ,”acting”.) out of principle and common decency? We have had demons released since the EU referendum campaign and it’s result. There has been a sharp rise, down south, in various forms of racially and ethnically based hate crimes reported by various police forces.

    We’ve had a couple of utterly disgraceful speeches at the Tory conference marginalisng and scapegoating foreign born residents of this country (Both Scotland and wider UK.). Where is Labour’s opposition to this? You are supposed to be the UK’s Official Opposition. I’ve heard principled opposition from the SNP, the Greens and Plaid Cymri. Would Labour care to take some time off hating each other to oppose the rising xenophobia and borderline racism being propagated by the UK Government?

Comments are closed.