THROUGHOUT most of the run-up to the independence referendum, I had been quite a firm No. For a mixture of reasons I was worried about staying part of the European Union, concerned for my parents’ jobs and pensions and unsure what kind of economic uncertainty separating from the Union would bring.

That isn’t to say I didn’t engage with those who were voting Yes and the arguments. I remember many late-night conversations with friends at university where we would discuss questions around what currency an independent Scotland would take, how we would be viewed on the world stage as a small nation and if Alex Salmond was really the leader we would want for a newly independent Scotland.

Fast forward two years and in spite of the referendum result, all of the things I feared are happening to Scotland against our will under a veil of “taking back control” from Westminster, masking blatant xenophobia and male bravado. The toxic conversation around Brexit broke any remaining illusion that our fragile Union was “one nation” and frankly, sickened me to the bone.

So what exactly turned me from a Naw to a full-on Aye?

Firstly, there was the treatment of Scotland and Northern Ireland by Westminster throughout the Brexit negotiation period. I single out Westminster because living in London, I had many conversations with English people who understood the injustice that faced two nations whose votes were being discarded.

Sixty-two per cent of Scottish voters stated they did not want to leave the EU and yet, there we were, staring down the barrel of a hard Brexit.

I watched, gobsmacked, as time and time again, Ian Blackford or Nicola Sturgeon repeated that Scotland did not want to leave the EU – only for it to be dismissed by those who’ve never been north of the M25. Not once did we see a diplomatic approach to Brexit – no mention of a softer exit, a different deal for other devolved nations or just generally listening to the other side in what was an extremely close race. The utter contempt shown to Scotland from the Tories brought their true colours out – we were never an equal partner and never would be as part of the Union.

READ MORE: From No to Yes: ‘For me, Brexit was the pivotal point’

Secondly, I came to realise that not only did Scotland have a separate identity to the rest of the UK but our values and attitude towards policy were different. Conversations around welfare, migration or international relations felt so disjointed to have on a UK level as Scotland consistently leans more left on them, but this was never reflected in the policy outcomes. Dreams of devolution fixing these issues have been completely shattered over the past few years – the only way to have autonomy over these issues is to not be ruled by Westminster.

I’m under no illusion that the road to independence is not going to be an easy one. But it is the right path for Scotland. I hope that we can continue to engage both sides and treat the question of self-rule as a dialogue for every Scottish person to have. And who knows, there are probably many more people out there like me who just needed the last two years as a wake-up call to how good an independent Scotland could actually be.

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