Further devolution and reform in Scotland is more practical
Split on the topic of independence, Scotland has not made up its mind. With a slim majority voting to remain in 2014, more than half of the country is against leaving the Union. Even if the vote flips, millions of Scotland's residents will still be in favor of staying. Increasing the devolution of powers would reflect a more pragmatic approach to the question of independence.
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Since gaining a devolved parliament in 1998, Scotland has been able to forge many of its domestic policies, such as health and education. Instead of independence, Scotland should look at options that resemble further devolution. Scottish independence has an immensely convincing emotional argument; that Scotland has a distinct identity and national character that necessitates independence. Unfortunately, the realities of such a move come at an immense economic and social cost. Not only would it rattle the economy of both Scotland and the UK, but it would tear apart a 300-year-old British union. To avoid the risks associated with independence, Scotland could consider having more powers devolved from Westminster. Whether it be economical, immigration, foreign policy, or all of the above, Scotland could begin to make its case for more independence within the UK. The UK must pursue an option resembling greater devolution, in place of risking a second, and affirmative, independence referendum. Another option to consider is Scotland becoming an EU sub-state of sorts, similar to Norway's relationship with the bloc. This would require extensive talks between the UK, Scotland, and the EU, but it may be a less calamitous path forward for all parties. Each of these options still represents fundamental changes to Scotland's relationship with the rest of the UK. Still, it may be the only option to maintain the structure of the UK and the prosperity of the union.
Independence is the only way forward for Scotland. Scotland's true aspirations will never be realized while it is in the UK. Even with further devolution, changes in UK leadership, and broader policy changes, it will not appease the will for an autonomous Scotland. Concerning devolution, the demands that would meet the needs of Scotland would not be granted by the UK. Scotland seeks to control its own immigration, military, and foreign policy. Each of these policies would fundamentally challenge the sovereignty of the UK, and the idea of Britain altogether. Additionally, it would still keep Scotland tethered to the rest of the UK and its polices. Pursuing a policy of Scottish EU involvement will likely be impossible in the present moment. With Britain just exiting the EU, proposing part of the country to fall under (partial) EU jurisdiction would be a non-starter. While it could be an option in the future, it does not meet the moment and the growing support for a second independence referendum. The road to Scottish autonomy, independence or otherwise, will be challenging. Ultimately, Scotland must seek whatever guarantees its needs are met, and independence is the most achievable.
[P1] Scottish independence would be costly for all parties involved. [P2] Further devolution would likely appease pro-independence Scots and avoid the hurdles of separation. [P3] Scotland could also explore options with the EU, while also staying in the UK. [C] Pragmatic compromises on policy and devolution may be the only option to retain Scotland as a part of the UK.
Rejecting the premises
[Rejecting P1] The costs of independence would be an investment in Scotland's future. [Rejecting P2] Scotland's policy goals will not be met by devolution alone. [Rejecting P3] It is unlikely that the UK would agree to Scottish EU involvement due to concerns about certain policies.