A Scottish flag, center bottom, is held up alongside European Union flags. These protesters supported Britain remaining in the European Union. (AP/Matt Dunham)

A Scottish flag, center bottom, is held up alongside European Union flags. These protesters supported Britain remaining in the European Union. (AP/Matt Dunham)

Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon launches an election campaign bus in the town of South Queensferry, Scotland, on December 5, 2019. (Jane Barlow/PA via AP)

Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon launches an election campaign bus in the town of South Queensferry, Scotland, on December 5, 2019. (Jane Barlow/PA via AP)

Protesters in Scotland demonstrate against Prime Minister Boris Johnson in August 2019. (Jane Barlow/PA via AP)

Protesters in Scotland demonstrate against Prime Minister Boris Johnson in August 2019. (Jane Barlow/PA via AP)

Campaigners for Scottish independence stand outside a polling place in Edinburgh, Scotland before the 2014 referendum. 45% voted to leave the United Kingdom in 2014. (AP/Matt Dunham)

Campaigners for Scottish independence stand outside a polling place in Edinburgh, Scotland before the 2014 referendum. 45% voted to leave the United Kingdom in 2014. (AP/Matt Dunham)

Supporters against leaving the United Kingdom hold up banners during a rally in Edinburgh, Scotland. The “No” side won in 2014 with 55% of the vote. (AP/Matt Dunham)

Supporters against leaving the United Kingdom hold up banners during a rally in Edinburgh, Scotland. The “No” side won in 2014 with 55% of the vote. (AP/Matt Dunham)

Scotland Breaks Free?

Posted: March 1, 2021

The leader of Scotland makes an announcement: If I win the next election, we’ll vote to leave the United Kingdom!

Think of Scotland, England, and Wales as three brothers who share a bedroom. Their “bedroom” is an island—the Island of Great Britain. Just like real brothers, they don’t always agree about everything.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon heads up the Scottish government. But even she has a boss: Prime Minister Boris Johnson. He leads the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom is made up of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. That group of countries left the European Union during Brexit.

The European Union (EU) is a group of 27 countries in Europe that work together. In order to belong, governments pay money to the EU. They have to follow certain rules about how business is done and about how people cross borders. Brexit is two words put together: Britain plus exit.

First Minister Sturgeon and many other Scots disagree with Brexit. They still want to be part of the EU. EU membership makes it easier for countries in Europe to trade. First Minister Sturgeon’s argument goes like this: The United Kingdom forced us into Brexit. So we want out of the United Kingdom.

Scotland has its own culture and pride—kilts, clans, bagpipes, and all. Scots love to dine on haggis—sheep stomach stuffed with the animal’s organs—and shortbread—butter, flour, and sugar baked together. Some Scots even speak a language called Gaelic. Opinion polls show many Scots want to become an independent nation. You can imagine the Scottish “brother” saying, “Aye! I want my own room!” Of course Scotland can’t physically move off the island. But it could start to make its own decisions.

Will Prime Minister Johnson let Scotland vote to leave the United Kingdom? He might say, “No, Scotland must stay.” Is that playing fair? Many Scots—in their traditional way—say, “Naw.”