We Hung Out with Angry Protesters Who Want Scotland to Stay in the EU
They don't want to be dragged out of Europe with the rest of the UK.
It was a familiar sight and not one long forgotten. Saltires and Yes flags flew outside the Scottish Holyrood Parliament last night but not as part of a Scottish independence rally – this time it was for saving Scotland's place in the EU.
Thousands of people protested outside the Scottish Holyrood Parliament on Wednesday evening as part of the "Scotland to Remain Part of the EU" demonstration organised by Young European Movement UK. "I woke up like most of my country with a horrible taste in my mouth after the EU referendum vote," explained Johnney Rhodes, 22, who organised the demonstration and was the main spokesperson for the event.
"This country did not vote for ignorance and fear. We have to take action to show all of Europe, even if it's just with a smiling face, that Scotland welcomes the EU. This is not a firework, this will ring out until Scotland is secure in the EU," Johnney said. "There's going to be a great public discourse and when Scotland is confident over how we're going to stay in the EU we are going to go with that path. One thing we can guarantee is that we're not going to stop until there is a Scotland back in the European family."
The European family was firmly represented at the pro-EU demonstration. Euro-bunting with all the flags of the continent waved around Holyrood. Poland, Germany, Italy, Spain, France, Belgium... but not a Union Jack in sight. "I am completely Scottish and I am completely European. It's difficult for me to identify as British given the result we saw last week," said Michael Scott, 29, from Edinburgh. Michael has lived in Paris for nearly ten years and is one of the many dressed in a saltire flag. "Knowing our EU neighbours makes us more open minded people. If Scotland wants to remain an attractive place for foreign students to come and study then being part of the EU is vital."
Yes! Yes to Indy! Leith Says Aye! Still Yes! It was hard to ignore the 2014 IndyRef merchandise floating around the demonstration, slogans seemingly as relevant as they were in 2014. "I know we're not alone. The Yes movement is here but there are so many Europeans here too. I hope there are some No voters here as well," he Michael said. "If I had been living here at the time [of the IndyRef vote] I probably would have voted Yes despite the complications but if there was another IndyRef I'd actively encourage everyone to vote Yes. I think given where we stand today and political developments in Westminster a Yes vote in Scotland is the safest way to protect our continued EU membership."
The result was barely in when Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, was arranging flights to Brussels to discuss Scotland's future EU membership. On Wednesday Sturgeon travelled to Brussels for meetings with EU Parliament president Martin Schulz, MEP and former Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt and Gianni Pitella, leader of the Progressive Alliance of Socialist and Democrats in the European Parliament.
"This is an exceptionally difficult time for Scotland and we have no idea what's happening next," said Ross Greer, Scottish Green Party MSP for the West Scotland region who joined the demonstration with Scottish Green leader, Patrick Harvie. "All we do know is that we can exhaust every option to stay in Europe, that might be staying in the UK or a second referendum on independence. We need every option available so that we protect the workers, the parents, the local environment, the economy and everything that comes from being in the EU."
All 32 councils in Scotland voted to stay, with the final result in Scotland being 62 percent remain and 38 percent leave. "Scotland is very united on this," said Lily Copping, 25, from Glasgow. "I'd rather we were all unified but now it seems like that's just not an option. Especially when you look at the map, Scotland voted to remain and you can't argue with that."
Michael Orzeg-wydra, 22, living in Glasgow but from Poland, agreed. "Because we had the majority vote it really gives us some hope. The arguments have been turned on their head. I voted No in 2014 but now the vast amount of arguments that the No campaign used have now made me want to vote Yes."
One of the key arguments during the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum was that the country would lose EU membership if it left the UK.
Sara Lomas, 19, from East Calder in West Lothian was once a firm No voter. "Back in 2014 the No campaign said if we vote Yes we'll be out of the EU, and now this has happened. We'd rather be in the EU and out of the UK," Sara said. "It's just not right we're being taken out the EU against our will."
Scotland cannot predict its future but a second vote on Scottish Independence is seen to be inevitable for the majority and with more and more No voters swapping sides. Sceptics still exist however and the country will again prove divided on their UK independence.
"I'm not going to pretend that a special arrangement for Scotland or even a second IndyRef is a magical cure," Patrick Thompson, 31, from Edinburgh said. "It's more uncertainty and it's more turmoil. Remaining is the best option."
"A second IndyRef doesn't fill me with a great deal of joy," he added. "It's like one of those evil ironic genies in a Twilight episode where you wish for money and the next day you get an insurance check because your family died. Independence was something I was interested in seeing but not like this," Patrick says holding his flag firmly. "But it could be worse, I could be living south of the border..."
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