Scottish Election 2021: The farmers hoping independence doesn't bring a hard border

Video report by ITV News UK Editor Paul Brand

Independence is again on the agenda as voters head to the ballot in Scotland's general election, whether they want it to be or not.

For many near the border with England, it’s an issue they’d rather leave in the past.

“There’s been too much Covid and Brexit at the moment and I’d rather just leave the country alone to get back on its feet,” said one voter in Hawick, a town in the south of Scotland.

In 2014, the Scottish borders made their stance very clear in the Independence Referendum – rejecting a break-up with the UK by two to one.

The border voted to remain in the UK un 2014.

Two voters hoping Thursday’s Scottish Parliamentary Election doesn’t lead to a second independence referendum vote and a potential hard border with England are farmers James Playfair-Hannay and Simon Orpwood.

James and his cattle live on the Scottish side. His land runs right up to the border, where it meets the English farm of his friend Simon Orpwood.

He fears an independent Scotland could create a hard border with England.

“We’ve seen you’ve got a hard border between Ireland and UK mainland at the moment and what hassle that’s caused – this is going to be the same, surely.”

Simon is hoping for the best, but says there is “not much we can do about it”.

“As the border is at the moment we’re backwards and forwards across the border the whole time,” he said.

“We hope it [independence] doesn’t happen.”

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Ahead of Thursday’s election, the biggest issue for this election is independence, according to Ipsos Mori Scotland’s managing director Emily Gray, who spoke to ITV News last week.

But unlike last year, when voters would have likely been very interested in pandemic policies and recovery, people are not thinking a lot about coronavirus.

Voters appear to be more concerned by independence, education, the NHS and the economy – with coronavirus fifth on that list.

But some Scots living within short drive from their neighbours in the south are hoping those priorities shift once again, come what may after the election.