Scotland: A European Nation

This publication outlines the historical, political and constitutional context that gives legitimacy to Scotland’s voice in the Brexit debate.

5 Conclusion

Scotland has maintained its distinct nationhood and identity within the voluntary union of the United Kingdom for the last 300 years. Within the last quarter century, the people of Scotland have exercised their sovereign right to choose the form of their government by re-establishing the Scottish Parliament in 1999 and conducting a referendum on independence in 2014. The rest of the United Kingdom acknowledged and respected the right of the people of Scotland, within the Union, to make these decisions themselves.

Scotland has never lost sight of its strong European heritage which persists to this day. That has now been shown by another Scottish exercise of democracy - the strong vote to remain in the EU. Scotland is a European nation grounded in the desire for peace and justice, firm in its cultural, environmental, social and economic ambition, and inspired by a generous vision of our obligations to fellow human beings and to the world.

Since 1999, the Scottish Parliament has gained wide-ranging, and growing, powers of self-government to represent the interests, choices and priorities of people living in Scotland. EU law stands at the centre of these arrangements, shaping the powers of the Scottish Parliament, and providing rights to the citizens of Scotland.

Brexit poses a fundamental threat to these rights and interests, not only in areas that are within the competence of the Scottish Parliament, but also in areas where power in Scotland is still claimed by Westminster, such as employment law and migration rights. In these areas Scottish citizens enjoy protections under EU law that could be changed or withdrawn by the actions of the Westminster Government.

Whilst we accept that the formal EU negotiating role belongs constitutionally to the UK, it is also clear that Scotland’s political history and current constitutional framework make it imperative that our distinctive voice and view are heard loud and clear in London and throughout Europe.

That is not only in our interest, it is also in the interest of the UK and the EU and of all those who want to see a progressive future for Europe.

 Mike Russell Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland's Place in Europe

Mike Russell
Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland's Place in Europe

Fiona Hyslop Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs

Fiona Hyslop
Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs

Did you know…?

  • Scotland was the first country to introduce compulsory schooling.
  • Scotland was an independent country until 1707 but, from 1603, Scotland, Ireland and England shared a monarch (from Scotland) as three separate countries.
  • The Bank of Scotland, was the first bank in Europe to print its own banknotes, a function it still performs today.
  • The post office at Sanquhar, established in 1712, claims to be the oldest working post office in the world.
  • The world's first infant school was opened by philosopher and pedagogue, Robert Owen, in New Lanark in 1816.
  • Scots have won Nobel Prizes in every category except for Literature.
  • Dolly the sheep was the first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell in 1997.
  • Edinburgh University and Nobel Prize winning Physicist, Peter Higgs, predicted the Higgs Boson particle 50 years before it was discovered in Cern in 2012.
  • Based on percentage of votes, the winning margin for a vote-to-Remain in Scotland was six times that for Brexit in the UK as a whole.

Where would the world be without these Scottish inventions and discoveries...?

  • The refrigerator: William Cullen
  • The television: John Logie Baird
  • Penicillin: Alexander Fleming
  • The Horsehead Nebula: Williamina Fleming
  • The telephone: Alexander Graham Bell
  • The steam engine: James Watt
  • The bicycle: Thomas McCall


Back to top