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A ‘multi-national’ compromise? June 27, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

I’d been wondering at the assurance of the claims by the Scottish administration in regards to rerunning a referendum on independence, not because I disagree with them but simply because Sturgeon seemed so confident. And the link provided by SonofStan to this piece by Brendan O’Leary of the LSE neatly outlines why she might feel that way:

The Scots have every right to hold such a referendum, because the terms specified in the SNP’s election manifesto have been met—namely a major material change in circumstances.

Again, that this wasn’t foreseen by the Leave side, or rather it was ignored, is one of the many curiosities about everything we have seen in recent days. While I think – for many reasons articulated here, that Exit was a massive error on the part of the UK electorate, the prospect of independence for Scotland and other constitutional changes is almost, I stress, almost, something that makes up for it.

The sight of the UK government fighting on so many constitutional and effectively diplomatic fronts simultaneously, O’Leary mentions how the Spanish government hasn’t been shy in mentioning Gibraltar for example, is remarkable. It really is a storm of unprecedented severity. Michael White, in the course of a piece which I would have some very specific disagreements with in the Guardian (not least his analysis of Corbyn) did make one good point which was that he had never experienced a crisis of this magnitude for the British state in his lifetime. I don’t think any of us have – perhaps short of any one who lived through the second world war. Everything, literally everything, has been lesser, but by engaging with and winning a referendum on Brexit, the UK is now moving beyond the heated but frankly rather artificial angst of its former relationship with the EU (one whipped up in large part by politicians and a media who found it a useful diversionary tactic – and a means of pinning blame for their omissions) into rather more tangible constitutional issues that span the breadth and width of the UK itself and beyond.

O’Leary’s piece looks at various examples – Greenland, closer to home and fellow members of the British Irish Council, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man, and so on. He suggests that:

Now consider politics going forward. Negotiating UKEXIT is not going to be easy for the next Prime Minister and Cabinet—indeed the difficulties may precipitate a re-alignment of party politics and a general election.
The Westminster parliament must give effect to the advisory referendum, and it will have to deliberate over the consequences of imposing an EU departure against the majority will of Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The consensual solution would be to negotiate for the secession of England and Wales from the EU, but to allow Scotland and Northern Ireland to remain—with MEPs, but without representation on the Council of Ministers, though with the right to have a single shared commissioner.

Of course this is blue sky thinking in a sense. The political problems may well cut across it. Leave may not care much about Scotland and Northern Ireland but would they be content to see those parts of the UK (as they are currently) remain within the EU? Well, perhaps. Perhaps it can be done. But the sense of a patchwork quality to the UK itself has surely never been greater, the air of contingency. I could well imagine a pushback by Leave on this.

Yet Leave is in for some hard lessons. O’Leary makes another point:

One state that was neglected in the referendum debate was the United States. Anyone who imagines that a UK-US trade agreement will get easily get through the American Senate has limited knowledge of US treaty-making. It will not matter whether President Clinton or President Trump is in the White House. When the new UK cabinet is formed it should recall President Obama’s serious warning that the UK will be in the back of the queue, and that therefore means that the bargaining power of the EU and its member-states will be strong. The constitutional compromise suggested here will calm the UK’s domestic politics, and give the EU a continuing stake in some of the UK.

That struck me as one of the most naive aspects of the Leave platform, the unwillingness to engage with the US or Canada or wherever as is, rather than as they wanted them to be. Sure, thumb your nose, but that act has ramifications for actual workers, actual people.

Finally O’Leary makes an excellent point:

There is one key lesson from the political science of multi-national states. They are usually not destroyed by secessionists alone. Rather, the key trigger that leads to the break-up of such states is the unilateral  adjustment of the terms of the union by the centre, without the consent of its multi-national components.

That’s the key. That’s what those who prosecuted Leave so ferociously have seemed to ignore, whatever ones views on whether Leave was a good or bad thing in itself. No plan, no path, the danger being ultimately no UK.
Anyhow, it’s a fascinating piece more broadly and as SonofStan says well worth a read.


1. gendjinn - June 27, 2016

I see Merkel wants to give the UK generous trade terms. One wonders how much of a veto the various countries have. Can say Greece stick it to the UK for the brutal dictatorship they inflicted upon them?

Just wondering. If they (and we) do then it really is a terrible pity that spineless splash of tepid piss is our Taoiseach. And MM is an idiot for not launching on a re-unification/border poll campaign, undercutting SF. Quid pro quo motherf*ckers!

Liked by 1 person

2. dublinstreams - June 27, 2016

does leaving Europe negate the reasons for Scottish voters nott wanting to leave the UK?


WorldbyStorm - June 27, 2016

Not necessarily, and good question. But one can understand how it changes the parameters of the original issue. Michael C made the point about how those in large countries rarely seem to understand the situation of those in smaller countries. I imagine for some in Scotland flawed as the EU is it offers an alternative framework and collection of linkages that modifies London’s writ. That’s not unimportant.


Aonrud ⚘ - June 27, 2016

The claim that a vote for Scottish independence last time was the inward-looking or isolationist choice has been turned on its head, though, hasn’t it? The pro-independence side can now use exactly the same argument – don’t vote to stay with the parochial, inward-looking UK, but with an internationalist Scotland in the EU.

Liked by 5 people

gendjinn - June 27, 2016

Certainly for some of them. There was a lot of fear mongering that Scottish independence would result in exiting the EU.

It’s not just the EU though. There were a lot of lies told by the remain side. Lies that have been exposed. I would submit that the 2015 GE results for the SNP point to the rapid change in mood between IndyRef and the GE. Leaving the EU only increases that majority.

I’d say that Scotland is gone from the UK regardless of what happens with rUK and the EU. Jan 1 2019. Unless there is a more auspicious date for Scotland they’d prefer, but it should all be done and dusted by then.


dublinstreams - June 27, 2016

how many people voted against Scottish Independence because they thought they might get not get back in the EU?


WorldbyStorm - June 27, 2016

In a way that’s moot. The fact that polls are solidifying in a Leave direction, that there has been a material change in circumstances in the situation of the Union means that – whether you or I like it or not DS, the SNP has every right to put the question to a referendum. Furthermore Scottish labour has indicated that it is exploring some form of continuing membership of the EU for Scotland, which suggests that objectively on the ground there’s a sentiment that does indeed want Scotland to remain and might be strong enough to push towards an exit which Scottish Labour certainly does not want.


dublinstreams - June 27, 2016

presumably the SNP wants to win the referendum this time, so whether the UK leaving the EU overrides the reasons they voted no the first time, is not a moot point.


WorldbyStorm - June 27, 2016

Of course. But in fairness they set a standard they’ve kept to. If the UK had voted to Remain Sturgeon clearly would not have responded the way she is now calling for a referendum. Again the test was a ‘material change’. That’s been delivered. They have every right to press forward. There’s another point too which is that it opens the ground up for continuing membership of the EU for Scotland even if a referendum doesn’t occur, or some sort of associative status which if the SNP didn’t put the screws on London likely wouldn’t have any chance of happening. Perhaps London will play hardball and attempt to stymie all and any of these but the SNP has to try.


irishelectionliterature - June 28, 2016

Regardless of EU membership and a material change….. I think that after the Brexit vote that no country would want to be associated with England and Englishness anymore.


3. irishmarxism - June 27, 2016

There’s a lot of hypocrisy all round here. In the Scottish referendum the SNP had a rather light minded approach to staying in the EU after independence, with an ‘it’ll be alright on the night approach’ and a dismissive attitude to objections that they couldn’t assume Scottish membership immediately upon separation. Now of course it’s somehow absolutely fundamental to them. The hypocrisy of some on the unionist side is obvious.

While the SNP threaten the right of the UK to exit the EU after a valid referendum result it complains about the possibility of Westminster preventing a new Scottish referendum vote. Competing nationalisms reinforce each other and they effectively become each others best enemies. The only potential alternative – Corbyn’s Labour – is slated for around a third of its supporters voting Brexit while wee Nicola is a political star because in one poll by contrast only around one third of SNP supporters voted Brexit.

Anyone who saw Sturgeons interview on the BBC Andrew Marr show will have seen a master class in not answering the question – like what currency,or the price of oil going through the floor, or a ‘hard’ border with England and whether she’ll join the UK team in negotiation with the EU to ‘protect Scotland’s interests’. Having dismissed the Euro and stood for the pound how does she think the EU will let Scotland do this if there actually is Brexit?

Lots of issues still stand in the way of Scottish separation and Brexit now stands as a shining example of how dismissing the opposition as ‘Project Fear’ doesn’t stand up as any sort of adequate response.

I doubt the SNP have yet committed to a new referendum – it can’t afford to lose twice.


4. Gewerkschaftler - June 28, 2016

I’d like to think that such a multi-national solution for the north could prevent the situation deteriorating in Ireland. I’d like to think that republicans might consider it as a step towards their goal.

But honestly, I don’t think either the DUP or the Tories have it in them.

Cue more fragility for the peace.

Sorry – still not in the best of form since the Spanish debacle.


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