Orkney, an archipelago in the Northern Isles of Scotland, is exploring options for independence from the UK, according to the Daily Telegraph.
13 of the island group’s 21 councillors have backed a motion calling for an investigation into “greater autonomy or self-determination” following the Brexit vote and the renewed threat of Scottish independence.
The motion requests that the council’s chief executive compiles a report considering “whether the people of Orkney could exercise self-determination if faced with further national or international constitutional changes, or indeed to decide if more autonomy might be beneficial for the well-being of Orkney.”
Orkney, along with the neighbouring Shetland Islands, was ruled by Norway until the fifteenth century. Its residents have pushed for greater autonomy in the past, and they were promised more powers in the event of Scottish independence in the run-up to the 2012 referendum.
Islanders are typically very hostile to Scottish independence, however, and have tended to favour a Westminster administration over a Holyrood one. Orkney voted against Scottish independence by 67% to 33% in 2014.
Graham Sinclair, an independent councillor who tabled the motion, told the Telegraph: “I think the islands are more significantly different — both historically and culturally — from the rest of the country.”
A 2013 poll found that just 8% of Orkney residents backed full separation from Scotland, even in the event of Scottish independence, with 82% against. Consequently, full autonomy remains highly unlikely.
Sinclair added that it was a “very preliminary shot,” and suggested that an opinion poll might be carried out to determine how residents felt about the issue.
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