I hope most Scots appreciate how kindly they are viewed by much of the world. I’m sure any of you who have gone abroad discern the much more favourable reaction you get when they realize you’re Scottish, and not merely British, as they swoon over your cool accent. In my Political Science class here in Brittany last week, the students were completely with the Scots in their desire to stay in Europe, as they couldn’t stand the attitude of the English. While the British ‘brand’ has overshadowed Scottishness until now, you can rest assured that Scots have engendered a great deal of good will in the world.
This good will is about to pay off in spades in the Brexit negotiation. Just after the vote in June, Nicola Sturgeon flew to Brussels and met with Jean Claude Juncker head of the European Commission and Martin Schultz President of the European Parliament. She was warmly greeted and listened to about her desire to keep as close ties as possible with Europe, whatever happens with Brexit.
Then, in late June, we heard this resounding exhortation from MEP Alyn Smith.
Compare this the EU Parliament reaction to Nigel Farage.
Since then, Nicola Sturgeon has proven to be the most competent and respected politician in the UK, or the English-speaking world for that matter. She has tirelessly explored all options to assure Scotland’s place within the EU, with independence being the final option if no other viable path can be found.
This positive and cooperative attitude is why Scotland has so much good will, which will help immensely for Scotland to secure independence within the EU, and eventually replace the UK as a member state.
Meanwhile in Westminster, the chickens are coming to roost in Big Ben, and it is beginning to dawn on them what a monumental blunder Brexit is. While Brexiteers for months have been prancing about exhorting cake possession and ingestion, and all the rinky-dink trade deals they could sign after leaving the most successful one in the world, the last few days have revealed how costly and economically devastating the divorce will be.
The agenda for the divorce will be set by the EU. A ‘good deal’ is not on the menu. First on the list is the bills for what the UK has already committed to, pension liabilities and the like, which looks to be an eye-watering €50 billion. Well, at least the UK has its sovereignty back.
Despite all the talk of the ‘plans’ the UK government is cooking up as to their future relationship with the EU, within recent days any fairy tales about the UK getting the ‘best deal for Britain’ have come crashing down to earth. There is no way during the 2 year period there can be both a divorce and a new trade deal, largely because the terms of divorce must be settled before there is a basis upon which to negotiate a new trade deal. It will likely take another decade to negotiate another trade deal, if the EU even wants to bother. They may want to get some rest after 18 months in a room with David Davis and Boris Johnson having to smell their farts.
The most destructive thing that the UK government has done since the Brexit vote has been displaying its attitude of contempt and arrogance towards the process. Just after the vote, there was some good will towards the UK and a desire to make it work as well as possible. Then, Boris Johnson gets chosen as Foreign Minister, Nigel Farage keeps hanging around Brussels and insulting them, and the UK keeps acting as if it has the upper hand, as if the EU wouldn’t dare give them a bad deal. Something about upsetting German car makers.
This blithely arrogant and contemptuous tone of the UK has withered any potential will to help Britain through this smoothly, and the EU 27 are more united than ever in preserving Europe and not giving the UK a deal that would encourage others to leave. That means full divorce, and they’ll see about a trade deal after. Optimistically in 12 years, the UK may be close to the same trading deal it has right now.
We also learned that Scotland will take part of the divorce proceedings, which confirms that the EU will cooperate in helping Scotland remain in the EU to the highest degree possible, perhaps as an independent state. Given all of the scenarios such as ‘reverse Greenland’ or joining the EFTA, Scotland becoming independent would be the easiest and most elegant solution. If Scotland becomes independent, this will have to be factored into the divorce proceedings. Perhaps it will be less expensive for the r-UK if Scotland and Northern Ireland separate from the UK and remain in the EU. The UK, the EU, Scotland, and likely Northern Ireland and the Republic will jointly negotiate the post-Brexit constitutional future of the British Isles.
Scotland is only in this position because of the good will it has built up, and the positive attitude Scots have exhibited in the EU project as evinced by their overwhelming vote to stay in. During the 2014 referendum campaign, Scots were constantly told they would be thrown out of the EU if they left the UK, and they would have to get to the back of the queue behind Kosovo to join. There was much sympathy throughout Europe for Scotland’s position and desire to retain them within the EU had they voted ‘yes’, but no member state could openly endorse Scottish independence.
Brexit turns this on its head. It also demonstrates that the EU membership is about much more than treaty requirements. At the end of the day, it is a political organization composed of human beings. They don’t want to expel good EU citizens and nations; it would be suicidal. While Madrid’s hair is on fire shrieking that only member states can negotiate and that Scotland must leave with the r-UK, the EU will be sitting down with Scotland to discuss its constitutional future. This demonstrates pragmatism over treaty rigidity, and gives hope to the Catalans as well.
Mark my words. Scotland will soon be a proud independent member of the European family of nations. The beauty of the Scots character has seen to it.