On the morning after the Brexit vote prevailed on the 24th of June, my initial reaction was: “The UK has committed suicide. Scotland will be independent, Ireland will be reunited, both remaining within the EU, and England and Wales will figure out what they will do”.
While this prediction could ultimately turn out to be blithely rash, many events have lent credence to my predictions, especially regarding Scottish independence.
When writing for Newsnet between 2012-2014, I wrote several articles describing exactly this scenario: A UK-wide Brexit vote with Scotland voting to remain, and the complications it would pose.
This was in the context of the incessant Unionist propaganda during the 2014 referendum campaign blithely asserting that Scotland would be kicked out of the EU if they had the temerity to vote for independence. As with so many other scare stories, this assertion was not based on any law, treaty or fact. The EU treaties are silent on the scenario of a nation within a ‘family of nations’ that is part of an EU member state voting to stay while the rest votes to leave. There is solid EU jurisprudence which holds that individual EU citizens cannot be deprived of their citizenship, let alone entire nations. These assertions were a crock.
We have now found ourselves in a position where England and Wales, which together constitute the vast majority of the UK, voted to leave, whereas Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to stay. How does one reconcile Scotland and NI staying both in the EU and the UK?
Basically, it is becoming increasingly apparent that remaining in the EU and Brexit UK will be impossible. The UK can’t select a legitimate government, let alone negotiate the horribly complex agreements which would allow for dual membership. Furthermore, being in a “union” which could drag Scotland out of the EU against their will is sufficient cause for Scotland to leave the UK, let alone actually forcing Scotland to leave the EU to remain forever chained to Westminster, nukes and all.
Phillip Hammond has confirmed that Scotland cannot have a ‘separate deal’ from whatever would remain of the UK. He is absolutely correct. However, if the UK is even remotely democratic, they must respect the will of the Scots to remain, which will mean Scotland voting to become independent and leave the UK in order to remain in the EU. It’s that simple and inevitable. We’ll see in the coming months if UK democracy is on life support, or is stone dead, and Scotland is condemned to perpetual Tory rule.
In any case, there is tremendous good will in Europe for Scotland to remain. This was obviously not the case during the 2014 referendum, when there were threats of expelling Scotland from the EU, even though there is no provision in the treaties for such an action. Quotes by EU leaders who were in no position to make any assertion about EU policy were invariably portrayed by the vile UK press as yet another ‘blow’ to Alex Salmond, forever crushing his dream of an independent Scotland.
These threats were also bolstered by the notion that any enlargement requires unanimity among the member states, and that Spain for example could veto Scotland’s entry so that the Catalans don’t get any ideas. This is a fundamental misunderstanding of EU political practice. First of all, this would be ‘inlargement’ rather than ‘enlargement’, because Scotland is currently in the EU. Secondly, these decisions require consensus rather than a unanimous vote among EU member states in practice. For example, East Germany became an EU member overnight after reunification, based on a consensual decision. If a former communist dictatorship can immediately become a member, why couldn’t Scotland which is a recognized nation within the EU in good standing.
Within Europe, the UK has often been uncooperative and counterproductive, and generally a pain in the ass. For Europeans, Nigel Farage and David Coburn represent the narrow-minded intolerant xenophobia of the UK, and Nicola Sturgeon and Alyn Smith represent the good will and cooperative spirit of Scotland. Who would you rather work with? D’uh. Europeans feel the same way.
So it will take time, and there will be many hurdles and issues to resolve as Scotland heads towards independence. However, the die is cast. As long as the referendum has full integrity, is controlled by the Scottish government, and has no scope for rigging as it had in 2014, independence is inevitable.