Calum Kerr, a parliamentarian from the Scottish National Party (SNP), is having to work hard to get his message across. As he defends a wafer-thin majority in Britain’s June 8 election, he wants to focus on issues directly affecting his farming constituency bordering England, with its struggling economy that may suffer further when Britain leaves the European Union. But those issues are being drowned out by the often shrill debate about Scotland’s right to another vote on independence from Britain. Scots rejected secession by 10 points in a 2014 referendum and polls show most still do not support it. “This election is not about independence at all,” said Kerr, who wants to get away from the topic as he campaigns for votes. “It’s about getting the voice of the Borders heard and it is all about Brexit, which is amplified in the rural context.”
Polls indicate British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party has gained traction in Scotland by saying this election is about secession. She opposes another independence referendum, arguing the time is not right after Britain voted to leave the European Union last year.
Scotland’s devolved parliament has approved a second referendum, and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, also leader of the SNP, has championed it in recent months. She says Scots should be offered a new choice because Scotland voted to stay in the EU.
The early British election has interrupted that campaign, however, after May, who had repeatedly ruled out such a vote, changed her mind last month.