Scottish independence referendum: What happened in 2014?

By Daniel Rosney
Newsbeat reporter

  • Published
Nicola Sturgeon in 2014Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Scotland voted 'no'

Should Scotland be an independent country?

"No", was the answer the majority of the Scottish public gave eight years ago when asked in an independence referendum.

In 2014 we were told by both campaigns - the winning "no" side with 55% of the votes, and the losing "yes" team with 45% of the votes - it was a "once in a generation" decision.

But now Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wants another one.

Why was there an independence referendum in 2014?

The SNP - Scottish National Party, which Nicola Sturgeon leads - secured 69 seats in the 2011 Scottish Parliamentary Election.

That's four Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) more than it needed for a majority.

Independence is the SNP's main aim and the then prime minister agreed, based on those election results and the number of MSPs, Scotland should be asked about its future.

Why does the SNP want independence?

The Scottish parliament makes decisions on things like education and housing for its citizens.

Health is the main issue that's devolved - meaning Scotland doesn't need to follow the policies the UK government sets out - and that's why, during the pandemic, we've seen different rules coming from Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England on Covid-19 restrictions.

Nicola Sturgeon's SNP party campaigns for more powers and argues Scotland should be able to make all its political decisions, so things like defence and foreign policy.

What did both sides say in 2014?

For younger voters things like university tuition fees, defence and the economy were key issues.

Those wanting independence argued free university fees in Scotland could continue but those against said financially that wasn't possible.

If Scotland had voted "yes" it would have broken up the UK's armed forces and would have needed to start its own one.

Radio 1 Newsbeat's coverage at the time included a debate a week before the September 2014 vote.

Media caption,
Watch highlights from Radio 1's Scottish referendum debate

Who could vote in the 2014 referendum?

For the first time in the United Kingdom's history, 16 and 17-year-olds were able to vote in Scotland.

In total more than three and a half million had their say on their future.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Nicola Sturgeon was the deputy first minister at the time of the 2014 referendum

Why does Nicola Sturgeon think there should be a second vote now?

The SNP, along with the Green party, said in the 2021 election that if they had the most votes they would put forward plans for another referendum.

The First Minister of Scotland argues that as her party won the most votes it shows people want change and they would have a majority in the Scottish parliament if they joined up with the Greens.

Nicola Sturgeon has been saying for years things have changed - especially after the 2016 European Union referendum.

What has Brexit got to do with this?

The majority of Scottish people backed remaining part of the European Union in the Brexit vote.

It was a decision made two years after Scotland said it didn't want to be independent at a time when the UK was in the EU.

Independent campaigners say Scotland can re-join the EU if it separates from the UK but there's no agreement in place to confirm that will happen.

Will there be another vote on Scottish independence?

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has unveiled what she called a "refreshed" case for independence.

She has published the first of a series of papers setting out the case to break away from the UK saying "Scotland today is even more prepared for independence than we were in 2014".

But it's not as simple as that.

The law says any change to how the UK is run is decided by politicians from across the United Kingdom, meaning any potential vote will need to have the support from the parliament in Westminster.

That is unlikely to happen. The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has dismissed the idea saying "we should respect" the previous independence result and that people across the UK wanted all politicians focused on the cost of living crisis and post Covid recovery.

But Nicola Sturgeon says she "stands ready" to negotiate with the PM about how to get another vote through legally.

It could go to court, especially as neither side seem to be up for a compromise.

Follow Newsbeat on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Listen to Newsbeat live at 12:45 and 17:45 weekdays - or listen back here.