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Referendums which Rejected Independence

In this article, we bust the oft-heard separatist myth that "no nation ever voted against its own independence" and we list the countries which did exactly that! Pic above shows British patriots outside Holyrood on the evening of Thursday 18 September 2014 when Scotland voted to Stay in the UK!

The SNPGREENS like to tell us that "No nation ever voted against its own independence".

The first thing to be said is that they frame the debate in a way which we do not accept!

That is, they frame Scotland as "a colony" which is somehow "held onto" by "the UK" or "the British Empire". Yes, they will literally use the phrase "the British Empire"!

As a result, they imagine that Scotland is somehow "in the same position as any former colony of the British Empire".

They do not accept the fact that Scotland is an intrinsic part of the United Kingdom; and from its very beginning, the United Kingdom was a Scottish idea before it was an English idea; that Scotland is a founding member; that we disproportionately helped to build the UK; and consequently, Scotland is the UK.

That means we cannot "leave" what we created, we can only destroy it! And we don't want to do that.

So all comparisons of Scotland with "a colony" are invalid. We don't see things through the frame they see things.

Having said all that, let's address their false frame and show it for the nonsense that it is – just because it is always fun to reveal their lack of knowledge!

In this article, we list the referendums, or government decisions, where a country could be said to have "voted against its own independence".

Let us first take the countries which are connected with the UK in some way, or part of the UK itself. Then we'll look at the wider international stage.

We've arranged these in chronological order, and by the date of the last referendum in that territory.


Newfoundland: 22 July 1948.

Newfoundland was a self-governing colony of Britain until the 1907 Imperial Conference resolved to confer Dominion status on all self-governing colonies in attendance.

A Dominion's status was defined in the 'Balfour Declaration 1926 (Imperial Conference)' as meaning:

They are autonomous Communities within the British Empire, equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs, though united by a common allegiance to the Crown, and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations.

In a referendum in 1948, it voted against independence, and voted instead to join the Dominion of Canada, which was a move seen as continuing a form of "British Union". On an 85% turnout, 52% voted for confederation with Canada.

The Cayman Islands: These were a self-governing territory of the British colony of Jamaica from 1958 to 1962. When Jamaica became independent of the UK in 1962, the Cayman Islands opted to stay as a British colony (although there was no referendum). Today it is one of the 14 official "British Overseas Territories".

Anguilla: In 1967, Britain granted St Kitts and Nevis full internal autonomy (although at the time, not full independence), and Anguilla was incorporated into a new unified dependency, incorporating 3 islands in the Caribbean named St Christopher-Nevis-Anguilla.

This was against the wishes of many Anguillans. They wanted to secede from the group in order, not to declare independence, but to return to the fold of Britain, through direct association with the UK, rather than as part of the new group.

This led to the rebellion on 30 May 1967, which evicted policemen on the island who were from St Kitts. This was a period of tension, where Britain was eventually forced to intervene in Operation Sheepskin.

Consequently, Anguilla came back under the direct jurisdiction and sovereignty of the United Kingdom (although there was no referendum), as a separate island in its own right. Today it is one of the 14 British Overseas Territories and our relations are strong and well. St Kitts and Nevis is an independent Commonwealth Realm with Charles III as Head of State.

Northern Ireland: 8 March 1973.

The first-ever referendum in the UK was held on whether Northern Ireland should remain part of the United Kingdom or join with the Republic of Ireland. The referendum was boycotted by Irish nationalists. On a turnout of 59%, 99% percent voted to remain in the UK!

Bermuda: 16 August 1995.

A referendum was held to decide whether Bermuda should become an independent sovereign state or remain a "British Dependent Territory". 74% voted against separating from Britain. To this day, Bermuda is one of the 14 British Overseas Territories.

Quebec: 20 May 1980; 30 October 1995.

In 1980, the proposal for the province to break away from the rest of Canada was defeated by 59.56% to 40.44%. The second attempt at "independence" was defeated narrowly by 50.58% to 49.42% on the highest turnout in Quebec's history (93.52%).

Gibraltar: 10 September 1967; 7 November 2002.

In the 1967 referendum, on a 96.6% turnout, Gibraltar voted 99.6% to remain under British sovereignty rather than pass to Spanish control. In the 2002 referendum, and on an 88% turnout, Gibraltar voted 99% to oppose the idea to move to a new position where Britain and Spain would share sovereignty.

Falkland Islands: 10 and 11 March 2013.

On a turnout of 92%, 99.8% voted to remain a British Overseas Territory, with only three people voting against.

Scotland: 18 September 2014

On the highest turnout ever at a poll in Scotland of 84.6%, 55.3% voted to stay in the UK, against 44.7% to break up the UK; a winning margin of 10.6%.


Malta: 11 and 12 Feb 1956.

Malta had a referendum which specifically voted to join the UK!

The Proposal was that Malta would have 3 seats in the House of Commons. The Home Office would take responsibility for Maltese affairs via the Colonial Office. The UK Parliament would control the defence and foreign affairs of Malta, and eventually taxation. The Maltese Parliament would be responsible for all other areas of public life, including education and the position of the Catholic Church.

The result, on a 59% turnout, was that 77% voted to join the UK! However, the British Government was to reject the proposal.


Djibouti: As "French Somaliland" on 28 September 1958; 19 March 1967.

In 1958, a referendum was held between becoming part of the new French Community or becoming independent. On a 73% turnout, 75% voted to join with France. In 1967, on a 95% turnout, 61% again rejected independence from France. Voting tended to be along ethnic lines. However in 1977, when it was called "The French Territory of the Afars and the Issas", a referendum on a 77% turnout, saw (an unusual?) 99.75% vote for independence!

Mayotte: 8 February 1976; 2 July 2000; 29 March 2009.

This French territory off Madagascar held a referendum in 1976 on whether to stay with neighbouring Comoros and become an independent State together; or to break with Comoros and stay with France. On a turnout of 83.3%, 99.4% of people wanted to stay with France.

In 2000, on a turnout of 70%, the population voted by 73% to become a "collective department" of France. In 2009, on a turnout of 61%, it voted by 95% to become an even closer "overseas department" of France.

Puerto Rico: 23 July 1967; 14 November 1993; 13 December 1998; 6 November 2012; 11 June 2017; 3 November 2020.

Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States. There have been various proposals for its future, including maintaining its current status, becoming a State of the USA, becoming independent, or a "freely associated state".

In 1967 voters were given the choice of full independence. Less than 1% (0.06%) of the population voted for that option on a turnout of 64%. In 1993, on a turnout of 73.5%, only 4.5% voted for independence. In 1998, on a turnout of 71.3%, and with 5 options on the ballot, only 2.6% voted for independence.

A referendum in 2012 returned 5.5% for independence, while the idea of joining as an official State with the USA was growing in popularity. A referendum on 11 June 2017 returned a 97% majority to become a US State, but only on a 23% turnout. The referendum on 2022 asked "Should Puerto Rico be admitted immediately into the Union as a State?" and on a 55% turnout, 52.5% voted to do so. The USA, however, remains sceptical of such an arrangement.

New Caledonia: 13 September 1987; 4 November 2018; 4 October 2020; 12 December 2021.

In 1987, this Island group in the southwest Pacific Ocean was asked the question, "Do you want New Caledonia to gain independence or remain within the French Republic? On a turnout of 59%, 98.3% voted to "remain with France".

Furthermore, "Do you want New Caledonia to attain full sovereignty and become independent?" was asked 3 times. In 2018, on a turnout of 81%, 56.7% voted "No". In 2020, on a turnout of 86%, 53.3% voted "No". In 2021, during concerns about Covid, the referendum was boycotted by a section of the population, and on a low turnout of 44%, 96.5% voted "No".


The "Netherlands Antilles" was the name of an island group, considered one country, in the southern Caribbean. As one country, it was part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It consisted of the islands of Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Sint Maarten. The Netherlands wanted to restructure the Antilles grouping – which was officially dissolved in 2010 – and referendums have been held in each Island in order to gauge opinion.

Of these 6 Islands, only Aruba and Bonaire have voted for independence. However, today all 6 remain connected with the Netherlands, although the legal status of each differs.

According to Wikipedia:

The Kingdom of the Netherlands consists of four constituent countries: the Netherlands, Aruba, Curacao, and Sint Maarten.

There is a difference between the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Netherlands: the Kingdom of the Netherlands is the comprehensive sovereign state, while the Netherlands is one of its four constituent countries. Three Caribbean islands (Aruba, Curacao, and Sint Maarten) are the three remaining constituent countries.

Three other Caribbean islands (Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba) are special municipalities within the country of the Netherlands. Until its dissolution in 2010, the islands had formed the Netherlands Antilles, with the exception of Aruba, which left the grouping in 1986.

Aruba voted for independence overwhelmingly on 25 March 1977. However, in 1994, the plan for full independence was dropped, and today it remains one of the 4 nations of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, along with Curacao, and Sint Maarten. The citizens of these countries are all Dutch nationals.

Bonaire: 21 October 1994; 10 September 2004; 17 December 2010; 18 December 2015.

In 1994, voters were asked to choose between the status quo, autonomy within the Netherlands, integration with the Netherlands or independence. On a turnout of 66.5%, 90% voted for the status quo, with less than 0.25% voting for full independence. In 2004, on a turnout of 57%, 59.5% voted for "Direct Ties with the Netherlands". In 2010, a referendum was invalidated due to low turnout and in 2015 a referendum voted against a direct link to the Netherlands largely due to opposition to the imposition of secularism and liberalism by the Dutch authorities.

Curacao: 19 November 1993; 8 April 2005; 15 May 2009.

In 1993, 73.6% voted to "restructure the Netherlands Antilles", with less only 0.5% voting for independence. In 2005, on a turnout of 55%, 68% voted to become an "autonomous country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, with 5% voting for independence. In 2009, this decision was approved on a 67% turnout, with 52% voting to confirm the proposition.

Saba: 14 October 1994; 5 November 2004.

In 1994, 86% voted for the status quo of being part of the Netherlands Antilles, with 0.5% voting for full independence. In 2004, 86% of the population in Saba voted for closer links to the Netherlands; while remaining a part of the Netherlands Antilles got 13% of the vote; and independence got less than 1%.

Sint Eustatius: 14 October 1994; 8 April 2005.

In 1994, and on a turnout of 44%, 91% voted for the status quo of being part of the Netherlands Antilles, with a tiny 0.2% voting for independence. In 2005, on a 56% turnout, 76.6% voted to remain part of the Netherland Antilles, with less than 1% voting for independence.

Sint Maarten: 14 October 1994; 22 June 2000.

In 1994, on a turnout of 65%, 60% voted to remain part of the Netherland Antilles, with only 6% voting for independence. In 2000, on a turnout of 56%, 70% voted to "Become a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands", while only 14.4% voted for independence.

This is a work in progress. If you see any omissions, please tell us.



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