A nation divided - will the UK survive?

Staff count ballot papers at the Glasgow count centre at the Emirates Arena Image copyright Getty Images

Many huge questions are raised by the EU referendum result.

In Scotland the biggest and most pressing question is whether this vote could spell the break up of the UK and hasten the day we see an independent Scotland.

Every region in Scotland voted to remain but the UK-wide result means that Scotland will nonetheless be leaving the EU.

This is exactly the scenario the SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon envisaged when she said that if Scotland is "dragged out of the EU against its will" that could trigger a second referendum on Scottish independence.

Already her predecessor as SNP leader Alex Salmond is saying that Ms Sturgeon will now call for a second referendum - indyref 2, as it is known in Scotland

All we have heard so far from Nicola Sturgeon is a statement saying: "Scotland has delivered a strong, unequivocal vote to remain in the EU".

She has also said: "Scotland sees it future as part of the EU"

Hints there about the possibility of indyref 2 - but no commitment yet.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The UK voted to leave the EU but Scotland voted to remain

She will deliver a statement later this morning that may clarify her position but I would be surprised if she actually sets a date for another vote.

She will tell us that the Scottish government will immediately start to take steps to try to preserve the country's relationship with the EU.

And she will undoubtedly point out that it is difficult for Scottish voters to accept such a momentous decision when they clearly voted the other way.

SNP politicians will point out - repeatedly - that during the Scottish referendum in 2014 voters in Scotland were frequently told that they should vote to stay in the UK if they wanted to stay in the EU.

Many arguments were had about whether an independent Scotland would be able to join the EU and on what terms. That argument looks rather different now - to say the least.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Nicola Sturgeon said: "Scotland has delivered a strong, unequivocal vote to remain in the EU".

And if there is significant anger from Scottish voters that their wishes are being ignored that could swell support for Scottish independence

But there are other issues that mean a Brexit might make it harder for the nationalists to win indyref 2.

The question of which currency an independent Scotland would use is even more complicated if rUK is outside the EU.

We almost certainly would be talking about a hard border between England and Scotland.

And no-one knows what the potential emotional shock of being taken out of one union might do to voters sentiment.

Nicola Sturgeon understands all these complications very well.

She did not want to find herself in this situation.

But here we are and the pressure from her supporters and party members to go for another independence referendum may be irresistible.

She is a cautious politician - more cautious than Alex Salmond, who is keen to go for indyref 2.

She will not want to make any hasty decisions.

But if this EU result does produce polls showing a majority in favour of Scottish independence it may be her best chance to achieve her overriding political ambition.

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