european_flags-europske zastave-europa.jpg
Photograph: freeimages.com/robert_driese

Scottish by inclination but Italian by birth, Claudio Massimo is on the side of those wanting to leave the EU.

"We're not the master in our own house," the Edinburgh souvenir seller complained to dpa. "We have to obey the EU diktat. They tell us what to do."

Massimo is not qualified to vote in Britain's in-out referendum on June 23 on whether to remain a member of the European Union.

His voice is certain to be drowned out by the pro-EU majority in the 4 million Scots registered to vote.

Sam Singh, another shopkeeper in the Scottish capital's Golden Mile tourist strip, is more in tune with the prevailing mood in this northerly nation of the United Kingdom.

"It's guaranteed that Scots will vote to stay in," Edinburgh-born Singh said. "All my friends, all my business associates, we all want to stay in."

Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the Scottish government, has gone further, demanding that England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland must each deliver a majority vote in the referendum to make withdrawal legal. Prime Minister David Cameron's government has rejected her demand.

"The voters here are in favour of staying in but are outnumbered by opinion in England," said Mark Diffley of market research firm Ipsos MORI. "If the UK is dragged out of the EU it'll be against the will of the voters here."

In a recent Ipsos MORI opinion poll, 54 per cent of Scots said they would vote for independence if the UK opted to leave the EU. But Diffley, along with most analysts, doubts whether Scots will have an early second chance to break away.

When it was put to them in 2014, 55 per cent of Scots rejected the case for separation. The independence referendum was billed as a "once-in-a-generation" chance to be free from London's control, and Scots are likely to have to wait a long time before another vote.

It seems certain that Sturgeon's Scottish National Party (SNP) will maintain a big majority in the Edinburgh parliament after regional elections on May 5 and that Scots will reject any move to leave the EU on June 23.

Sturgeon has said another independence vote will only come when the separatists are sure of winning the day.

"The reality is that there has not been a consistent and strong enough change in attitudes to the constitutional issue for the party to be confident of winning a second referendum in the near future," Diffley said.

The fall in the oil price - to around 40 dollars a barrel from more than 100 dollars at the time of the 2014 independence referendum - has destroyed the economic case for separation. Scotland's petroleum revenues were down by 50 per cent last year.

Last year, Scotland generated less tax per head than the rest of the United Kingdom for the first time in 35 years, the independent National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) said.

The institute declared that the "Scottish fiscal situation is both generationally unequal and fiscally unsustainable."

What helped scupper the case for separation two years ago was a simple question: Which currency would an independent Scotland adopt?

The separatists, after at first picking the euro, then said they would stick with the pound.

Savvas Savouri, chief economist with London-based fund manager Toscafund, has analysed the complexities of Britain leaving the EU and Scotland applying to join the bloc after securing its own independence. He says it is unlikely that Scotland could keep the pound.

"Can you imagine Ireland being confronted with the prospect of Scotland rejoining or staying in the EU with a pound that has fallen sharply, and being faced with the prospect that Glasgow and Edinburgh would be more competitive as a business location than Dublin?" he says.

"Dublin would say that they would have to join the euro or adopt another currency that didn't have the credibility of the pound or the euro."

For Massimo, who sees Edinburgh as his permanent home, Scotland sticking with the EU, or trying to rejoin it, would be just as silly as saying goodbye to the United Kingdom.

"In Italy, with the euro, the economy went down and the taxes went up," he said. "We had to go to the bank to borrow money to pay taxes. You must be master in your own house."

Latest news

Plane crashes at airport in Melbourne

A five-passenger charter plane has crashed into a building next to Essendon Airport in Melbourne, with witnesses reporting explosions, fire and black smoke, police said Tuesday.

Air France pilots give green light to lower cost subsidiary

Members of Air France's main pilots union on Monday voted to accept the creation of a new lower cost subsidiary that the flag carrier hopes will help it compete on long-haul routes.

US Army General McMaster tapped as Trump's national security advisor

Army Lieutenant General HR McMaster will be the new White House national security advisor, US President Donald Trump told reporters Monday.

Greece's creditors want sweeping reforms before next bailout payment

Greece must make sweeping reforms to its labour market, pension system and collective bargaining agreements in order to receive its next vital bailout payment, the country's European creditors said Monday.

President wants to recall "politically appointed ambassadors", can't do it without gov't

President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic said that many politically appointed Croatian ambassadors were not carrying out state policies but that she could not replace them without the government to appoint career diplomats who would fight for Croatia's interests.

Izetbegovic hopes ICJ will confirm Serbia's responsibility for genocide

The Bosniak member of the tripartite presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bakir Izetbegovic, on Monday rejected criticism stirred up by the announcement that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) would be requested to review its judgement made after Bosnia sued Serbia for genocide.

British lawmakers locked in heated debate over Trump's state visit

Allowing US President Donald Trump to visit Britain would be akin to "pimping out the Queen," one British lawmaker said Monday during a heated debate in British parliament over two petitions concerning the US leader's future state visit.

Vitaly Churkin, Russia's sharp-tongued ambassador to the UN, dies

Russia's long-time ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, died in New York on Monday, following a career that spanned four decades and saw Russia emerge from the Soviet Union and experience many turbulent events in its relations with the West.

French police raid National Front over European Parliament payments

France's far-right National Front Monday said that investigators had searched its offices in relation to allegations that it misused European Parliament funds.

Unhappy Presidents' Day: Trump still manoeuvring after Sweden comment

Donald Trump used his first Presidents' Day in office to continue trying to talk his way out of comments implying a terrorist attack in Sweden that never happened.

Croatia supports Kosovo's territorial integrity - Grabar-Kitarovic

Croatia's President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic on Monday expressed the support to Kosovo's territorial integrity and Euro-Atlantic aspirations during her talks with the visiting Kosovo Foreign Minister Enver Hoxhaj.

Petrov rules out early parliamentary election

Parliament Speaker and Bridge party leader Bozo Petrov on Monday dismissed speculation about a reshuffle of the parliamentary majority, saying an early election was likelier, but that right now he did not see "such a scenario."