British nationalists are, as we would expect, drooling over the comments form Mariano Rajoy and Francois Hollande just as they revel in anything that they perceive as a put-down for Scotland. While hard-line unionists welcome these comments as promising to thwart the democratic will of Scotland’s people, a more rational perspective recognises that they are, in fact, nothing more than statements of the obvious fact that Brexit negotiations will be conducted at UK Government level. There is nothing at all controversial in these remarks, and they have no bearing whatever on what the First Minister is seeking – rather successfully – to achieve by engaging with EU leaders and representatives of member nations.
But let’s suppose that the statements from Rajoy and Hollande really do represent the spoke in Sturgeon’s wheel that British nationalists so fervently crave. Let’s suppose they really were declaring a veto on any arrangement which allows Scotland (along with, presumably, Northern Ireland and Gibraltar) to maintain its relationship with the EU regardless of whatever deal is struck with the UK. What are the implications?
Quite simply, if Rajoy and Hollande are saying Scotland cannot remain in the EU as part of the UK, then this necessarily means that we must seek to secure our place in Europe as an independent nation. It is a fundamental principle of the EU that no European nation which meets the relevant criteria can be refused membership. Scotland has met the requirements of membership for over 40 years. So it is far from certain that any attempt to deny Scotland membership would succeed. For sure, the simple veto that British nationalists like to imagine is little more than one of their sick fantasies involving the belittling of Scotland.
Back to the real world, and one thing is very clear. If Scotland’s status in relation to the EU is to be negotiated by the UK Government, we cannot possibly trust them to defend our interests. At the very minimum, Nicola Sturgeon must demand that Scotland is fully represented in any talks whinge impinge on the nation’s interests. This means having senior Scottish politicians, such as Alex Salmond and Humza Yousaf, fully embedded in the UK Government’s negotiating team – reporting to the SNP group at Westminster and the Scottish Parliament.
Should the UK Government refuse this, then we must assume that they have no intention of acting in good faith. It must be made absolutely clear that Scotland will not be bound by any agreement which has not been freely negotiated and ratified by those who have a democratic mandate from the people of Scotland.Views: 2876
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