Why 70 Islands Want to Leave the United Kingdom


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By now, it’s safe to say that the UK’s 2016 vote to leave the EU has ushered in numerous unforeseen consequences. High on the list: reinvigorated calls for Scottish independence. Though the country’s dream of complete political autonomy has so far gone unrealized, one archipelago in Scotland’s Northern Isles is inching ever closer to not just breaking free from the UK and Scotland, but restoring a political allegiance severed in the 15th century.

Earlier this week, the Orkney Islands council voted 15 to 6 in favor of a proposal to begin looking into “alternative forms of governance” beyond their status quo position within the UK and Scotland. Several options are on the table, but the most drastic governmental reorganization could see Orkney become a self-governing territory of Norway.

Orkney’s ties to Scandinavia aren’t just geographical, but historical: The islands belonged to Norway and Denmark from 875 until 1472, when they were gifted to King James III of Scotland to secure his marriage to Margaret of Denmark. It’s a history Orcadians haven’t forgotten. As University of the Highlands and Islands professor Donna Heddle told Globe and Mail, many still celebrate Norway’s Constitution Day every May 17, and Norse first names like Erland and Thorfinn remain popular on the island.

A view from sea of Stromness, a village in the Orkney islands

Photo: Getty Images/Nicola Colombo

Though Orkney’s cultural affinity for Norway is certainly salient, Orkney council leader James Stockan put forth the vote in response to modern political challenges. He told BBC News in the days before the vote that the islands have been “failed dreadfully” by both UK and Scottish governments, with the archipelago receiving less funding per capita than the Shetland and Western Isles. Leslie Manson, once the Orkney council’s deputy leader, told The Independent that the absence of funds needed to repair the aging ferry fleet that shuttles residents across Orkney’s islands (20 of which are inhabited) was “the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

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Lisa Holden
Lisa Holden
Lisa Holden is a news writer for LinkDaddy News. She writes health, sport, tech, and more. Some of her favorite topics include the latest trends in fitness and wellness, the best ways to use technology to improve your life, and the latest developments in medical research.

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