Simplistic soundbites: Scotland


The “Remain” proposition is so straightforward and obvious.  Even if there is a majority across Britain for Brexit, there will clearly not be a majority in Scotland.  The Scots, who have an historical affinity with the continent, will feel that they are being rail-roaded out of the EU by an English majority, which will be ample grounds for a second Scottish referendum.

The EU might have jibbed at accepting a newly-independent Scotland as a new EU member while Britain remained “IN”, but it might be much more positive about accepting Scotland after Brexit – if only to embarrass Westminster.

So (they say) Brexit will inevitably lead to the break-up of the UK.  Or will it?  The first point to consider is that the SNP is working itself up to demand a second referendum anyway.  Yes, Nicola Sturgeon would undoubtedly try to use Brexit as a pretext, but without Brexit she’ll simply find a different pretext.  Brexit may not make too much difference.  But the Guardian suggests that some SNP members may vote for Brexit merely on the basis that they think it might provide grounds for a second Scottish independence referendum.

We take it for granted that Scotland is against Brexit.  But as in England, opinion north of the border is divided.  In 2014, the Scots elected a UKIP man as one of their six MEPs.  A recent opinion poll showed support for Brexit at a surprising 27% among SNP voters – who are supposed to be strongly pro-EU. And recent developments in Europe – and Cologne – are likely to drive anti-EU feeling.

Certainly a newly-independent Scotland applying to join the EU would have to buy the whole nine yards.  Euro membership.  Schengen.  The opt-outs negotiated by Britain would no longer be on offer.  No doubt some Scots would be expecting generous hand-outs from Brussels.  But though Scotland’s per capita GDP is low by Western European standards, it is high compared to the poor counties of Eastern Europe, and still more so compared to would-be accession states like Turkey or Serbia.  There will be no cash cornucopia for Edinburgh.

Scotland would also have to accept Brussels’ plans for the resettlement of very large numbers of refugees.  Alex Salmond was always very positive about immigration into Scotland, but I suspect that many rank-and-file SNP voters may take a different view, especially after the events of the last few months.

Canny Scots will recall that an independent Scotland could not have bailed out RBS in the banking crisis.  They will recall that SNP plans for the Scottish economy were drawn up when oil was $100+ a barrel.  An independent Scotland would be in terrible economic trouble with oil at $30, and North Sea rigs lying idle.  Indeed if the SNP pursues Alex Salmond’s wild plan to make Scottish energy 100% renewable, the country will be dependent on back-up from England.

Barclays have a unique take on this question. As reported in the Telegraph, they believe that Brexit could result in widespread economic disruption on the continent, and Britain (and the Pound) could be seen as a “safe haven” compared to continental chaos. In this context, the Scots might prefer the relative security of the UK and the Pound Sterling against the uncertainty of the €urozone.

On balance, I feel that risk of a British break-up post-Brexit has been considerably exaggerated.  But it’s an integral part of the Remain Campaign’s “Project Fear”.


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10 Responses to Simplistic soundbites: Scotland

  1. Alan Wheatley says:

    Any historical affinity the Scots have to the continent is surely misplaced. My understanding of history is that “the continent”, e.g. France, was only pro-Scotland as an ally for getting at England, and when continental invasion plans failed they dropped and support for Scotland like a hot potato.

    Also, is it not the case that at the general election in 2015 more Scottish votes were cast for parties that wanted to retain the union than were for independence, though, of course, the resulting number of MPS bears no relationship to that sentiment.

  2. Alan Wheatley says:

    I am not so much concerned as to the number of Scots who vote for the UK to remain in the EU as the number of English, Welsh and those from NI who vote to remain for fear leaving will break up the UK. We are already seeing this line of argument used as part of Remain’s fear campaign.

    The counter for the Leave campaign is to effectively argue their case, showing to all of us how much better we all will be out than in. I think a good number of Scotts will be persuaded by that argument; if only they hear it and are prepared to give it a fair hearing

    And, hopefully, the Scots will also take into account how an independent Scotland will be viewed by other EU nations compared with the UK view which, irrespective of how the Scots think they are treated, is one of concern and consideration. What, in practice, will be the attitude of 27 other EU countries be towards Scotland, whom they may think that if they wanted favourable treatment they should be looking to England rather then giving them another problem to deal with.

    • Ex-expat Colin says:

      Its all about money(naturally) and where and how much gets tapped off. All I see is New Britain getting caught out due to the VI’s in Westminster who issue much veiled intention. As we see in the results of today!

      There is more to it than that but loss of our assets etc is much more than a bother and the Scots need to reflect on that. Don’t want to bail them out (see Nigeria)

      • Alan Wheatley says:

        Money is, of course, important. It is very tangible. But money can be a consequence of politics: for instance, energy policy has a big impact on who has the money, or put another way, where the financial gains and losses fall as a consequence of political policy.

        And money is short-term compared to decisions about nationality, and the consequence of a choice about nationality determines who makes the decisions.

        Those Scots who want independence should ponder upon how much independence they have as a part of the UK compared with how much independence they would have as a country within the EU; they would be a very much smaller part of the EU. It seems to me that if the Scotts really do want to be a fully independent country the last thing they should be doing is to join the EU.

  3. Jane Davies says:

    Just supposing, when the UK leaves, the Scots vote for independence and ‘rejoin’ the EU and Schengen is imposed I take it as a given that the border with England would be guarded vigorously as is the norm between two separate countries?

    • John Poynton says:

      Exactly so, Jane. Otherwise Scotland would become a back door for migration into England. Scots would no longer be able to look for work south of the border, and would also no longer received the benefits of UK regional policy, defence (think cyber attacks and GCHQ in particular) and subsidised public services.

      • Alan Wheatley says:

        After Brexit there would be a land border between Ulster and Eire. This was raised at an EFDD public meeting at Stourport last week, and in reply Jim Carver was relaxed at the prospect, surprisingly so I thought.

        Of course, in the land of “what if” another consequence of Brexit could be that Eire would follow suite.

      • Ex-expat Colin says:

        Are you in Stourport..or near Alan? I’m in Kidd.

        When the borders are up the VAT rates are on I suspect. Smuggling whiskey anybody?

        The Scots have no idea what problems they will cause themselves…as we know! Hopefully there are no Tory/Lab loonies in power when it happens.

      • Alan Wheatley says:

        The next EFDD public meeting in the West Midlands is at Chateau Impney Hotel & Exhibition Centre, Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire, Wednesday Feb 10th 7:30pm Say No to the EU meeting > Speakers James Carver & Jill Seymour from UKIP, and Simon Richards from the Freedom Association.

  4. Ian Terry says:

    Here in dictatorship Scotland you must accept the fact that the majority, if not most of those dyed in the wool nationalists only read and preach the propaganda as put out by Empress Nick and her top team. They seem to keep quite on the fall in oil prices and the number of their Westminster MPs with two or more jobs which is against their own party conference vote. Yes the borders would have to be properly maintained and policed. Not before bleeding time.

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