Boris on alert as only matter of time before Sturgeon achieves independence referendum

Dr Andrew Dowling, reader in contemporary Spanish history at Cardiff University, explained to Express.co.uk that “because London has already shown its willingness to hold one referendum, I suspect at some point – maybe not in 2023 as the Scottish nationalists hope – it’s only a matter of time, whether it’s 2028 or 2030, that they get a second referendum.” He said: “Because the position of London is that it’s willing to accept the separation of Scotland in the right conditions, that’s completely different to the question of Spain and Catalonia.”

Dr Dowling cited a number of other factors to Express.co.uk, all of which distinguish the Scottish independence movement from that of Catalonia.

He said: “I think the biggest difference is the fact that Scotland, in terms of the UK, is pretty small; it’s five million people out of a country of 67 million people.”

Contrasting with Spain, he said: “What makes the real difference with Catalonia compared to Scotland is that Catalonia is one-fifth of the Spanish economy.

“No Spanish government is ever going to willingly lose one-fifth of its economy.”

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“No Spanish government is ever going to willingly lose one-fifth of its economy.”

In 2017, Catalonia’s exports totalled £63billion, which is more than a quarter of the national total, and it has historically had the highest GDP of all the Spanish regions.

Scotland, however, accounted for about 7 percent of the UK’s GDP in 2019.

Even behind the economics, however, Dr Dowling stresses the cultural factors impacting the two independence movements.

He said: “For most English people, it would not be a trauma if Scotland left the UK.

“Some people might be disappointed, some people might be upset, but for most people, it wouldn’t be a trauma.”

The same principle does not apply to the Iberian nation, according to Dr Dowling.

He said: “In Spain, however, the notion of Spanish unity is so deeply ingrained – and you’ll encounter this – people will say that if Catalonia left Spain, ‘it would be like amputating my right arm.’

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“The whole perception of what Spain is, is very different to what is the UK.”

As a result, he said: “The Spanish governments of all political persuasions are all really clear that they will never permit a referendum on independence, and are also hostile to the very notion of independence.”

Disparities in how the two independence movements are constructed, he argued, impacted their likelihood of success in the near future.

He said: “With Scotland, things are clear, because there is one party, really, that has a clear hold on the independence movement.”

He added: “Catalonia is deeply divided between two positions – two parties, really – that just can’t get on with each other around the question of independence.

“It’s a much more divided independence movement.”

Detailing the background, he explained that “Catalan independence is still coming to terms with what was really a political defeat in the autumn of 2017.

“However seriously you think of the attempt to break away from Spain in the autumn of 2017, it’s pretty much clear that it was a failure.”

In the 2017 referendum, following very low voter turnout, the highest court in Spain ruled that the vote was illegal under Spain’s constitution.

As Dr Dowling said: “Not one country in the world has recognised Catalan independence.”

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