5 November 2020, 18h00 – 20h00
Antwerp, The Nottebohm Room, Hendrik Conscience Heritage Library
Scotland and Brexit: the Road to Now by Murray Pittock
In the 2016 Brexit Referendum, Scotland voted to remain in the European Union by a 25% majority, and every one of the country’s 32 local authority areas voted to Remain, while the capital, Edinburgh, voted by a margin of almost 3 to 1 in favour of the EU. Although Scotland had voted against independent statehood by the relatively narrow margin of 55-45 in 2014, Brexit immediately opened up the question of Scottish independence once again, not least because the UK government made no concessions whatever to Remain opinion in Scotland or elsewhere, and indeed adopted a form of Brexit more absolute than that advocated by Vote Leave during the campaign. This lecture charts the background to Scotland’s compellingly different vote in 2016 in the context of the structures of the country’s history and the nature of the Scottish national movement, and examines in detail the course of politics since that date. It focuses in particular on Scotland’s continuing engagement with the EU under Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP government in trade and policy terms, including the 2020 joint strategic review with the Republic of Ireland and the navigation of the difficult politics of the 2017 Catalan referendum. The latest polling in Scotland suggests a 55-45 majority for independence, with peak support at 66% in Glasgow and a clear majority in Edinburgh and the Lothians, and the lecture closes with an evaluation of likely future developments.
Prof. Dr. Murray G.H. Pittock is a British cultural historian and one of Scotland’s most influential scientists. Murray Pittock started his career at Aberdeen University and became the very first professor in Scottish literature in England after he switched to Manchester University. He is currently Bradley Professor of Literature at the University of Glasgow and fulfilled various leading functions there. He is ProVice Principal at the University, where he was previously Vice Principal, Head of the College of Arts, and Dean from 2009 to 2015. He gained international prestige with his book The Road to Independence? Scotland Since the Sixties, followed by numerous other books that appeared in various languages. He was awarded various international prizes and was a fellow at re-known universities in the United States, the Czech Republic, France England. Pittock is a high valued advisor of Scottish Parliament Members and chairs several boards of Scottish national cultural and heritage institutions.