Announcement of a Date of an Independence Referendum could come within weeks

Since last year, the Scottish government has been very quiet about the timing of a second independence referendum, and has received flak from impatient ‘yes’ supporters wanting the starting gun to be fired.

In my previous article, I argued that holding an independence referendum is urgent, and it needs to be done before Brexit in March 2019. I would like to be more precise and argue that it needs to occur no later than September 2018, for Scotland to avoid a post-Brexit dystopia, because Scotland will have no chance of having another referendum after.

Nicola Sturgeon has consistently stated that once the nature of the Brexit deal were known, there would be a decision taken on the timing of a referendum. Events of this week make clear what Brexit will look like; both in terms of the possibility of a good Brexit deal for the UK, as well the status of Scotland in a post-Brexit UK.

While the full implications of the Windrush scandal have yet to play out, thus far it not only shows just how rotten, inhumane, xenophobic and cruel the May government is, but also fatally undermines any trust the EU can have in the UK in a future relationship. Think about it. UK citizens who have lived here for decades are being asked for decades of documents that don’t exist, documents proving their status were deliberately destroyed, they are declared to be illegally living in the UK, fired from their jobs, evicted from their homes, denied health care, bank accounts frozen while spending thousands on legal fees, and deported to a country they barely or never knew. In some cases, we’re talking elderly hauled from their homes, sent to detention centres, and deported on charter flights.

And it’s not just citizens from the Caribbean. In Scotland we see the case of the Brain family and Olya Merry fighting extradition. We have barely begun to grasp the scope and scale of the ‘hostile environment’ policy put in place by Theresa May, but it is already more than sufficient to obliterate any trust the EU can have in the UK to abide by any agreements, especially regarding the status of its citizens.

Even in the absence of Windrush, the EU timeline for withdrawal also dictates that constitutional future for Scotland be decided by Scots in September, because after constitutional decisions will be permanently made for Scots. Under the current timeline, the withdrawal agreement needs to be completed by October, as well as a declaration on the future relationship. There is to be ratification of the agreement by the 27 member states, the EU Parliament, and the UK Parliament (Scottish Parliament has no role) before formal withdrawal in March 2019. During the proposed transition period which is to last until December 2020, the UK will be required to abide by all EU law, and be subject to rulings by the European Court of Justice. While the UK will be allowed to negotiate trade deals with third countries during this period, none will be allowed take effect until 2021. 

However, the proposed timeline is looking increasingly untenable, because a lack of trust in the UK increases the likelihood of a no-deal hard Brexit. Trust is essential for any agreement, and the UK has zero. Would you trust a government who forcibly deports the elderly?

Even if the UK were trusted and a decent deal could be reached by October, if Scotland waits beyond September to decide, then Scotland will be locked into the withdrawal agreement, and unable to avoid leaving the EU, Single Market, and Customs Union. Deciding in September is also important because it will inform the EU in withdrawal negotiations, so that they know what exact entity is withdrawing. We already know that Northern Ireland will retain ‘regulatory alignment’ with the Republic to avoid any hard border, essentially remaining in the Single Market and Customs Union. There is no question that if Scotland were to vote yes in September, the EU would allow it to remain in the Single Market and Customs Union until Scots decide if it wants to become a member state, or perhaps a member of EFTA.  It is inconceivable that the EU would force Scotland to leave the Single Market and Customs Union against their will. 

Given that the possibility of a good deal or even any deal is very low, we also learned this week that Scotland’s post-Brexit constitutional is grim indeed.

This last week, the UK government took the Scottish and Welsh continuity bills to the Supreme Court, and then Welsh Labour sold out and renounced their bill and allowing their powers to be sequestered by Westminster for 7 years. 

To summarize as the constitutional issues as briefly as possible, the UK EU withdrawal bill currently winding its way through the Parliament allows the Government to rewrite the devolution settlements. There are 111 EU powers that are shared with the Scottish Parliament that should be directly transferred to it post Brexit. There had been negotiations with the UK government, in which all but 26 of the powers would be transferred, but there has been no agreement. Therefore, Westminster is free to take all the powers, even abolish the Scottish Parliament, unless Scotland votes to dissolve the Union very quickly.

To bolster the legitimacy of calling a referendum, the Scottish Government must show that it has exhausted every option to safeguard Scotland’s interests before Brexit. When the Supreme Court likely rules that Westminster sovereignty wins every time, this threshold will have been reached, and it will be time for Scots to categorically assert their sovereignty.

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14 thoughts on “Announcement of a Date of an Independence Referendum could come within weeks

  1. Gordon Ross

    Mark I think you have nailed this subject. Indyref 2 must be called before Brexit bill and Henry the 8th powers are used to remove our parliament and give power to Mundell in the fancy new “Scotland Office”

  2. Clydebuilt

    Will the EU publicly commit to Scotlands continued EU membership before a vote. If not there’s a scare story for starters.

  3. Big Jock

    With the UK leaving the EU anyway. The EU will not be afraid to comment or support Scottish membership. The UK have made a pigs ear of this and the EU just want shot of them now.

    I think Nicola made many allies on her field trip around the EU. That was clever foresight on her part.

  4. Gary McIlkenny

    I agree. We know enough about brexit. There should be no more dithering about another Indyref. To do so makes us look like ineffectual pushovers. Like many folk, I’d love to see the SNP take a stronger line when it is attacked by the MSM. They have been too nice for too long, we need more than diplomacy now when dealing with the British state.

    What have we got to lose anyway? Post Brexit UK will be horrible and the Scottish Parliament looks certain to be further weakened. The Tories can do what they want and labour are useless. We will be no worse off, even in the result of an Indyref loss. If the majority of Scots genuinely prefer to be governed by a right wing, shambolic, racist, race-to-the-bottom British government, then we are wasting our time anyway.

    Maybe we will have to wait decades before demographics or events turn in our favour?

    I’m not sure that I’d want to stick around in this country long enough to find out.

  5. Christopher Bruce

    The result of Scotland moving in this way will be profound.

    Safety for the NHS, eradication of food banks.

    Safety for Scots and EU nationals under threat of deportation.

    A sensible safe non-warring future for our children.

    Equality of opportunity for all not just those close to the seats of power.

    A Broadcasting service working for the people not the state machine.

    Wages for the job, not the sex of the person doing it.

    Total illegality of tax dodging off shore accounts.

    There are a thousand more, just think of what Westminster does and do the opposite, it is guaranteed to be good for the people.

  6. Wendelabra

    When I spoke on social media of a referendum potentially being announced in Oct18 to be held in Mar19, a (well-meaning?) gent assured me it couldn’t possibly be done, seeing as the original Referendum Bill took 10 months to go through.
    We obviously have to have a vote ASAP, Sep18 at best, Mar19 at the very latest.
    Can it *actually* be done? Does anyone know realistically how long it might take to arrange, if we were, say, in a hurry…? 😉

  7. AndyMcKangry

    Agree with all of the posts
    I think the Supreme Court decision, which is an English court anyway, will undoubtedly go with Westminster and clearly breaches the act/treaty of union re Scots law, will be the Green light and we must go!!!!!!

  8. Robert Graham

    The EU know what it’s like to deal with the English , and maybe more Scots have finally figured out what’s coming their way after the love bombs have fizzled out , there will be no more love heading our way , it will be threats of Armageddon next ,
    you thought it was bad before that was a trial run because they thought that they were going to win , this time isn’t so clear cut , so expect , well expect this lot to cause some terrible events and indeed loss of life, psychopaths have no concept of conscience no connection with the consequences of their actions , life and loss of life doesn’t concern them .

  9. Les Wilson

    You know, everyone knows Brexit is total mess which if left as is, will destroy devolution ( maybe it already has) and ultimately we know it is also going to destroy Scotland’s economy.

    What else do we really have to know, we need out and fast. For me Sept 18th would be the
    best time before waters get deliberately even more muddied and time begins to run out.
    Remember who we are dealing with.

  10. Les Wilson

    One thought on the Welsh capitulation, I see this as what was designed from the beginning.
    Jones, resigning then wham, they roll over. Smells.

    On the other hand could we believe that the Labour high heeds, prior agreed to go once more hand in hand with the Tories in order for the media et al, to pose the SNP as being isolated.
    Not too far from the truth I think.

  11. Clydebuilt

    By failing to respect devolution is Westminster intentionally backing Tge FM into a corner, attempting to force her to call for Indy Ref2. Before the disaster of Brexit has hit home to the voters, creating a majority fir Independence in Scotland. Are we bring played by Westminster?

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