History and Politics
Positive and Negative Currents: Can Sovereignty Attitudes Explain Scottish Pro-Europeanism?
It is widely accepted in British political discourse that Scottish attitudes to the European Union (EU) are markedly more positive than those in the rest of the United Kingdom (UK). However, this truism has not been satisfactorily explained using a comparative framework. This paper attempts to uncover whether divergent attitudes to sovereignty in Scotland and the rest of the UK can explain Scotland’s relative pro-Europeanism. This was explored using survey data. Two groups of respondents, from Scotland and the rest of the UK, answered a series of questions about EU membership, sovereignty and related political issues. These responses were then fed into a series of statistical models. The hypothesis anticipated that Scottish respondents would be less likely to view membership of the EU as a threat to the UK’s national sovereignty than respondents from the rest of the UK, and consequently would have a more positive view of EU membership. These expectations were met. The first model found that sovereignty attitudes are significantly predictive of EU attitudes, and when sovereignty attitudes arecontrolled for, living in Scotland has no independent effect. The second model demonstrated that Scottish respondents had a view of sovereignty much more amenable to EU integration. However, the third model found that none of the explanations for this dissimilarity from existing literature are fully supported by these results. Therefore, further research which might help fill this gap in understanding is suggested.