Sunday, 2 July 2017

Scottish independence now looks very unlikely and will be more so after Brexit


A British Remainer friend (let's call him Tony), at dinner a year ago just before the referendum, made various arguments for staying in the EU, such as that all reputable economists think we should stay (not true) and that no former party leaders wanted us to leave. I mentioned Michael Howard, Ian Duncan Smith, David Owen and Margaret Thatcher. 
I also mentioned Nigel Lawson and Norman Lamont.

Then he said he thought nationals of other EU countries who live in the UK should have had a vote in the referendum.

This was like the thirteenth stroke of the clock, that not only was unconvincing in itself but cast doubt on the other twelve. I don't think he gets the idea of nationhood.

He had dinner with me again last night. One year on and he is now cock-a-hoop. He hopes Brexit will happen in name only. He becomes possessed with rage about Brexit and thinks it will lead to Scotland seceding. 

Before the referendum I too feared that Brexit threatened the Union that matters, the Union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This was much the strongest argument that I could see for voting Remain. I see now that, in fact, Brexit makes Scot secession less likely. 

It might even, if we are lucky, make Scottish secession cease to be a live issue forever.

It is a much more attractive proposition for Scots to leave a UK which is part of the EU, rather than a UK which has left, 
even though either way secession comes with enormous risks. A Scottish government could not spend a penny of public money negotiating with the EU until it became an independent sovereign country. After doing so it might be that the EU would not accept Scotland (Belgium, Spain and Romania might object fearing a precedent for Wallonia, Catalonia or Transylvania). And at the least there would be a period when Scotland was not subsidised by London or Westminster. 

I can't imagine enough Scots being prepared to risk this for the SNP to ask for a referendum. In the words of Sir Humphrey in Yes, Minister

That would be a courageous decision.

The SNP would be very foolish and foolhardy to ask for one, unless they had a reliable 60% lead in the polls.  They can afford to lose one referendum but losing two is more than carelessness. It's the end for the cause of Scottish independence, at least for thirty or forty years.

Yet experienced Scottish journalists fell for Nicola Sturgeon's scam that she intended to do this.

A UK leaving the EU makes independence much less, rather than more, attractive. I could explain in detail why, but my work has been done for me by blogger Effie Deans here.


  1. If a largish majority in Scottish opinion polls did ever favour independence a British government would be foolish to allow one, though David Cameron created a precedent. But I do not see such a majority coalescing after Brexit for reasons explained in Effie Deans' blog.

  2. To use a metaphor a stroppy teenager who might consider getting out of the car while in town will probably pipe down once you get into the mountains. Dominic Johnson