Monday , June 17 2024

Scottish independence is a dead issue

I woke up one morning in Spain to find that Britain had voted to leave the EU. I got a shock. I was certain that Brexit would lose. I reacted to the news with some pleasure, but also some nervousness. It would probably have been better for me financially if we’d voted to remain. This is at least the case in the short term. Although I campaigned hard for Leave, I would have reacted to a Remain vote with a certain amount of relief. As I saidright at the beginning of the campaign there are good arguments for staying in the EU and there are good arguments for leaving. It was always a question of balancing the pros and the cons.

I have had to follow events from afar, catching headlines on newspaper stands and snippets of news on the BBC. But I think that sometimes helps. Firstly it is necessary to delete all the noise. From the perspective of the world outside Britain it matters not one jot who leads the Labour Party right now. All this turmoil is very interesting to us, but it won’t matter five years from now. Likewise the backstabbing in the Conservative Party will not matter much even by September. My first choice for Tory Party leader was Boris. He’s intelligent and a great communicator. His flaw is that he sometimes lacks judgement. My second choice would have been Gove. He’s by far the most intelligent Brexiteer, but has little charisma and likewise has shown a lack of judgement recently. I fear that he allowed the Cameroons to sway him. Third choice is Theresa May. Her flaw is that she is a Eurosceptic who didn’t have the courage of her convictions. She quietly campaigned for Remain because she thought they’d win. But she’d probably do a pretty fair job of uniting the Tory Party and she’d be able to make the tough choices that will need to be made in the future. Long term too it won’t matter very much who leads the Tories.

The UK faces a number of long term issues that are important. It’s time everyone focussed on these rather than the minutiae of political talent contests. The most important issue that we face is the question of whether or not we are a fully functioning democracy. There have been some disgraceful demonstrations against the result. Sorry folks, this is just wrong. Unfortunately it has become a bit of a habit recently. Every time we have an election or a referendum, those who lost complain and try to overturn the result. This is quite simply anti-democratic. It needs to stop.

It is vital that the UK actually does leave the EU, because that is what the electorate voted for. There can be no attempts to stop this by using the Scottish Parliament or the UK Parliament or some obscure law or other. If the UK does not leave the EU, then we do not have a democracy. Simple as that.

I have no great fear now about life outside the EU. Project Fear II has turned out to have been grossly exaggerated. The pound has fallen, which makes things rather more expensive when we’re on holiday, but it will massively help the UK economy. Everyone in the world is trying to devalue their currency. The worst position of all is to have an overvalued currency. The markets are going up and down, but that doesn’t massively worry me as from the perspective of five or ten years a few weeks of turbulence will likewise be just noise. Everyone who is important wants the post-Brexit world to work. We will end up with more or less free trade with the EU and we will regain some control over our laws and our borders.

There was quite a lot of noise likewise from the Scottish nationalists in the days after the vote. But they found out very quickly that from an international perspective Scotland is a region of the UK in the same way that Catalonia is a region of Spain and Saxony is a region of Germany. Many Scots may not like this, even some of those who voted No during Indyref, but this is because they are not following through on the logic of the position. Scotland is called a country and a nation and there is nothing wrong with that, but Scotland is not a sovereign nation state. It therefore matters not one little bit that Scotland voted to remain while the UK didn’t. In any nation state there will be parts that disagree with the whole. If that were grounds for secession, then no nation state could long endure. Nicola Sturgeon’s complaint is exactly the same as if Texas voted to secede because it didn’t vote for Obama. Only a few rednecks in cowboy boots think that way. Again it is anti-democratic and it is wrong. We had a free and fair referendum on independence less than two years ago. The SNP lost. Get over it.

Will there be a second independence referendum? I think not. No-one in the EU wants to encourage sub-nation nationalism. There are too many parts of the EU member states which would love to secede too. The whole of the continent is made up of places that once were independent and might likewise dream of being a nation again. It is for this reason that the most powerful people in the EU are going to refuse to negotiate separately with Scotland. When the UK leaves the EU therefore, Scotland will go with it.

Let’s imagine the SNP tried to have a second referendum. When would they have it? Would they have it before the UK has finished leaving the EU or after? But how could we in Scotland possibly know whether we wanted to leave the UK until we knew what sort of deal the UK gets from the EU? Moreover can you imagine the chaos of the UK negotiating to leave the EU while Scotland at the same time was negotiating to leave the UK? So it is clear that in order for Scotland to join the EU, we would first have to be outside of the EU. We would then have to apply to join. But the conditions for joining the EU are that a country has its own currency and agrees to be part of Schengen and join the Euro. No matter how angry some Scots are at the moment I can’t see many of them voting for that. Do you fancy changing the value of your house first into Scottish Poonds and then into Euros?

The whole SNP indyref argument was that life would be pretty much the same after independence. We do more trade with the other parts of the UK than with the whole of the EU put together. Much more. Why would you want to leave one trading block (the UK) with which you do most of your trade to join another (the EU) with which you do very little? This would massively change all of our lives. Brexit will be disruptive enough without adding further uncertainty.

Many Scots don’t much like the UK and many don’t feel very British. This is a serious problem that UK politicians need to address. But self-interest will tell the vast majority of Scots that we have to remain in the UK. This is not least because we are subsidised by the UK to the extent of billions of pounds every year. In any second indyref campaign it would become abundantly clear that Scottish independence would mean huge public spending cuts and tax rises. This wouldn’t be scaremongering or Project Fear III, it would be simple arithmetic.

Voting for Brexit has annoyed many Scottish nationalists, but when they calm down they will realise that it makes Scottish independence much harder. If Scotland were in the EU while the UK were not there would be a chasm between England and Scotland where once there had been only a border that no-one much noticed. Some Scots would be dancing for joy at digging such a moat, but the vast majority would not. It is for this reason I think that Nicola Sturgeon knows that she would lose a second referendum. She will squeal, but in the end she will do nothing.

If you voted for Remain yet support the UK don’t let the SNP use your Remain vote to suggest that you support them. Above all don’t let the SNP talk about Scotland as if we already were an independent nation state. We are not. We voted against that idea quite recently. It is no more undemocratic if a part of a nation state doesn’t get what it voted for than if a constituency votes for a different party than the one that ends up in government. It is however undemocratic for people like the SNP continually to make threats when they lose. But don’t worry. That’s two referendums they’ve lost. They’ll not win a third. Scottish independence is a dead issue.

This post was originally published by the author 9 July 2016.

About Effie Deans

Effie Deans is a pro UK blogger. She spent many years living in Russia and the Soviet Union, but came home to Scotland so as to enjoy living in a multi-party democracy! When not occupied with Scottish politics she writes fiction and thinks about theology, philosophy and Russian literature.

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