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Scotland and Brexit… yet more! March 23, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Andrew Rawnsley in the Observer at the weekend made some useful points in relation to Brexiteers and Scotland, but I think he’s far too harsh on Scottish Nationalists throughout. For example.

Above all else, the Brexit vote has furnished the Scottish nationalists with the ideal grounds for a further push for secession. They made a manifesto commitment to stage a second referendum in the event of a “material” change in Scotland’s circumstances. There can’t be any serious argument that the UK’s departure from the European Union is a material change. If they were candid, the nationalists might acknowledge that they would have been working towards another attempt at separation whichever form of Brexit was chosen by Mrs May.

But that reifies the second part of the process – a process initiated by Brexit itself over the first part. No Brexit vote and the SNP would be much much less likely to push for a referendum given they themselves ruled out one short of a ‘material’ change in the circumstances, as Ranwsley accepts.

And in fairness he does note that:

But it is no less true that additional and incendiary ammunition has been handed to the nationalists by Mrs May’s decision to pursue a rock-hard version of Brexit that privileges the desires of the Brextremists over everything and everyone else. The prime minister has fuelled the constitutional inferno with her inflexible failure to make any accommodation at all with the large number of voters – a substantial majority of them in the case of Scotland – who didn’t want to leave the EU. The SNP can now contend that it is not they who are the reckless parochialists; they can pitch themselves as the sane internationalists trying to save their country from a rampant English Tory nationalism.

And I’m entirely sure I disagree with the following:

On the issue of timing, the Scots appear to be in contradictory minds. Pollsters report that a majority don’t want another referendum soon, but they also object to a plebiscite being blocked by Westminster. I don’t want to eat that – unless you tell me I can’t.

If the voters are being contradictory, they are at least matched in their illogicality by the protagonists on both sides. Pro-Brexit unionists are in the hideously contorted position of arguing that Scots should not “take back control”, precisely the opposite of what they have told Britain in relation to the EU. The SNP is telling Scots that being deprived of access to the single market will be so bad for them that they should compound the damage by quitting the single market with England, the destination for the bulk of Scottish exports.

But… and this is well worth keeping in mind, Scotland is arguing not against any markets with the UK. How could it be otherwise, they as noted last week point to the situation on this island as an example where there’s at least rhetorical adherence to the idea that ‘something must be done’ to maintain the basic integrity of economic links (whatever the reality will prove to be). they’re arguing against breaking links with the EU. Though Rawnsley is correct that:

…the people least qualified to scare Scotland with the economic perils of going it alone are the Brexiters who plan to wrench Britain out of the world’s largest trading bloc. The SNP has a changing and confused line on the EU, with some of its people now saying that they would not necessarily seek membership for an independent Scotland. The fact that a third of Scottish voters chose both independence and Brexit might have something to do with the shaping of that position. Both sides are hurtling through the looking glass.

But not quite. The SNP is making sensible noises about the EEA and EFTA. But this flux, this chaos is all a result of Brexit. Break up of the union, impacts on this island. Where does it end?


1. GW - March 23, 2017

Where does it end?

I’ve no idea. Except not in the place that the Brexiteers (right and left) imagine.

When does it end? I fear we will still be using the B-Word in a decade.

And it will continue to act as the ideal distraction from class politics.


2. GW - March 23, 2017

But at least Barnier (the EU negotiation chief) is regularly mentioning border issues within Ireland as a priority.

Nothing kicks off in the divorce settlement negotiations until the terms of reference for Barnier have been agreed sometime in late April. Then there’s about 12 months to get a agreement which needs to be ratified all over the place in Europe. And in the English parliament, if they are given a vote. During the negotiation window the French and Germans are going to be distracted by national elections.

Good luck with that.

Then in two years time, if an agreement is reached, future trade and other arrangements between Little England and the EU can be discussed.


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