Is Theresa May boosting the case for an independent Scotland?

In Scotland a much bigger story is brewing than ours.   Theresa May  is taking Nicola Sturgeon head on and may come a cropper. She’s behaving as if the Tories’ clean sweep in England boosts their authority in Scotland.  Nothing could be further from the truth. Despite winning 25% of the vote in Scotland, it only emphasises the Conservatives as the party of pro-Brexit England. The Nats are up in arms claiming that May now wants to revisit the whole devolution settlement.

May makes a fair case in wishing  to reserve some powers due back from Brussels  to Westminster over agriculture, fisheries and the environment that  otherwise under devolution would   transfer over to  Holyrood, Cardiff Bay and Stormont. she needs those powers  in order  to make new trade treaties with other countries.  But was she wise to goad Nicola Sturgeon  into  calling for  Indy ref2? Papers on  the right  and left are worried.

The politically cautious pro-EU FT (£) has serious doubts

  On Friday, Mrs May accused the SNP of obsessing with independence at the expense of all other considerations. The prime minister has a point. The problem is that the manner in which she is pursuing Brexit risks strengthening calls for independence. It would have been wiser if the prime minister had stuck to her original course: approaching the Brexit negotiations in a way that does not alienate the significant minority that voted to remain. Her failure to do so may prove to be a profound miscalculation.

 Lesley Riddoch the Belfast-born  pro-nationalist commentator is scathing in the Guardian.

What has been roundly ignored to date has been the Scottish government’s options paper – still the greatest amount of ink on paper by any government relating to Brexit. It suggests ways to keep Scotland inside the single market, and was presented to the British government in December. To date there has been no official response: all there has been is backtracking.

After promising that powers returning from Europe would be devolved, it now looks as if control over agricultural and fishing subsidies will stay at Westminster when they return from Europe. Yet when SNP politicians seek clarification – as the SNP’s Westminster leader, Angus Robertson, did in prime minister’s questions this week – they are dismissed like stupid, unruly children.

“My way or the highway” is the standard British government response to pleas for opt-outs or flexibility. But behind the scenes, opt-outs aplenty are being considered for constituencies that matter to May – naturally Scotland is not among them.

Top of her priority list is the City of London whose powerful remain-voting bosses are thoroughly panicked.

And of course there is the special and delicate problem of Ireland – both sides of the border voted to remain in the EU, mostly because membership removes the vexed problem of an internal border. If there is a bolder geographical fix offered to Northern Ireland, Scotland will be the only important player left out in the cold.

That’s why independence is becoming an option for many people who voted no two short years back – many on the back of a cast-iron assurance that the only way to stay in the EU was to stay in the UK.

May and the Scottish Conservatives are currently waging a phony war over Scottish independence because their own party’s record is woeful. The Scottish government will trigger another referendum when May has fully demonstrated how little Scotland means in the dangerous game of Brexit. We may not be waiting long

Mrs May is treating Scotland the same way as she treats the Remain constituency- as a group to consult and then overrule. She is failing to grasp that a majoritarian, winner take- all- approach doesn’t work when under devolution voters have an alternative. Rather than court ultimatums from Sturgeon she would be well advised to devise a  better framework for negotiating over the SNP’s considered case in their document, “Scotland’s Place in Europe”. The UK government needs to convince, that access to the single market is much the same as continuing membership – a tough call.

May’s  defenders say that detailed negotiations between Whitehall and Holyrood are proceeding in the Brexit department and both sides wish for similar ends. If so, the fruits of their labour had better surface soon

And where is Northern Ireland in all this? Sorry, too busy just now. But watch out for Gerry Adams.

 

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  • Enda

    It’s perfidious Albion, all over again.

    I would hope the Scottish people take note of promises given and then taken away.

    I don’t know how many people voted No on the assurance of staying in the EU, but they were sure as hell sold a dud.

    Here”s hoping that the numbers are enough to turn the vote in the next election.

    I sure as hell know what way I’ll be voting this time!

  • So the statement on agriculture/fisheries is: “In areas like agriculture, fisheries, and the environment, the devolution settlements in effect devolved to the legislatures in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast the power to implement EU directives in these areas, within a common EU framework. The essential common standards which underpinthe operation of a single market were provided at the European level. As we bring powers and control back to the United Kingdom, we must ensure that right powers sit at the right level to ensure our United Kingdom can operate effectively and in the interests of all of its citizens, including people in Scotland.”

    So Scotland essentially just an admin centre for EU. Don’t see anything here to say anything except that central policy will be decided by Westminster rather than Brussels. No change at all.

    Obviously the perpetually paranoid will read all sorts into this Essentially, other than hating the English or being viscerally anti-Tory, nothing is actually changing.

    There are two quotes used here to *make* (prove? a point: two reliably anti-Westminster pro-EU commentaries. Maybe reading a bit more widely would be useful:

    http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/grievance-machine-has-a-bunged-up-sump-bndjdkq68 £

    “Granted, understanding of this issue is still in its early days. The SNP has still to explain why surrendering powers to Brussels to bring about a European single market is acceptable, but surrendering the same powers to London to bring about a British single market is unacceptable. If an EU single market is right, why is a UK single market wrong?”

  • Enda

    Clearly the English didn’t think the EU market was right, but the devolved administrations be damned if they want to take power back.

  • Obelisk

    It is almost as if the Tories are trying to drive the Scots out of the UK to permanently cement their own rule in England…and once Scotland goes the drain of Northern Ireland can be rapidly dispatched.

    Far-fetched? Extraordinary? Unbelievable. I agree, such an analysis reads like a bad political thriller.

    But can anyone offer an explanation for what the UK government is doing other than rank stupidlty and arrogance? Yes I know it’s rank stupidity and arrogance, I am just trying to give them the benefit of the doubt here.

    They aren’t even pretending anymore. It’s the old line from the dominant partner in an abusive relationship. ‘You are nothing without us, we dare you to leave’.

    How much more will the people of Scotland take from a Tory government that clearly feels it no longer needs to lie to them about how important they are as David Cameron did?

    At what point will national pride assert itself over the economic threats the Tories are wielding?

    The prospect is tantalisingly real.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Theresa’s brass neck, tin ear and rusty ‘Iron Lady’ impersonation adds up to a great metallic clanging – the death knell of the Union. I applaud her arrogant deafness. Nicola Sturgeon can probably hardly believe her luck in having such an opponent.

    “The Union must be destroyed” to paraphrase Cato the Elder.

    And good luck to you guys in NI – the destruction has taken it’s first great step, it would seem.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    The amount of power Scotland has in the UK compared with what it would have in the EU are entirely different. In the EU we would have a voice, a vote and a veto, on a similar standing to the other countries in the EU.

    In the UK at present our voice – 50 or so MP’s, is consistently over-ruled and Scottish proposals and policies are not given effect. As we have recently seen, we are even severely rationed as to speaking time on Scottish affairs while other MP’s are given a full crack at our own whip. Our vote and voice are nullified and as for a veto – dream on. This is what is known as a democratic deficit, and it is unsustainable, rather like the DUP.

    The EU single market is a market equal for all, with shared and beneficial standards.

    A UK ‘single market’ would be a) dominated and controlled by, and for the benefit of, England, and b) with Brexit, a down escalator to a ‘lowest common denominator’ free market with deals done to import cheap low quality US food, cost cutting health firms, Chinese steel and a low wage economy.

  • Ciarán Doherty

    For decades they have called the bluff of nationalist communities outside of England, it doesn’t matter how badly they are treated they just cannot bring themselves to part from the status quo.

    So as much as I want the union ended, it’s not hard to see why the Tories are so arrogant and condescending towards Scotland and NI. Time for the celts to put their money where their mouthes are and actually vote out, until then it’s all talk.

  • chrisjones2

    All you have to do is:

    1 win a referrendum – they did give you an answer last time and now your economic position is much worse
    2 find a way to fund your new state – the sums from last time are now out by £10bn ish
    3 persuade the EU to take you in – the next round may take 10 years if the EU still exists then
    4 in the interim beg a Trade Deal from the UK

    By the way the Catalans are planning their own (illegal ) referrendum on independence from Spain. Even if you win yours dont be too sure that the Spanish will agree your accession because of the precedent. Oh yes and the Euro is looking very dodgy again so good luck with getting access to it and then surviving in it – see Ireland, Spain, Greece, Portugal etc etc etc

  • Karl

    Or alternatively, stay part of a country ;

    Where the government has squandered your natural resources to subsidise a low tax economy for the benefit of the rich for decades.
    Where the needs of your own infrastructure and economy are secondary to that of a megalopolis.
    Where your people are lured away from home because better education and opportunities are located at the centre of power
    Where your money is spent of aircraft carriers and nuclear weapons
    Where your country is used as a test lab for new taxes and ill thought out social schemes
    Where foreign policy is decided in the bullingdon club

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Scotland is the 12th largest economy in the EU and 24th largest in the world – so why would we not be viable as an independent state? The EU is gasping to take us in – they want to replace the UK as much as possible, and as a bonus stick one to the Brexiteers – there would be no problem there. As for the rUK – they are grasping at deals from anyone who will entertain them, so that won’t be a problem either. The Union is on it’s last legs – suck it up, Chris.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    And thats only the best parts of the deal!

  • chrisjones2

    ” squandered your natural resources to subsidise a low tax economy for the benefit of the rich for decades.”

    Aye …all that subsidy to Scotland wasted

    “Where the needs of your own infrastructure and economy are secondary to that of a megalopolis.”

    See above

    “Where your people are lured away from home because better education and opportunities are located at the centre of power”

    Or they are desperate to get away from small minded closeted Nats

    ” Where your money is spent of aircraft carriers and nuclear weapons

    For your defence though I agreee thatv the carriers were just an electoral bribe the the then PMs constituency

    “Where your country is used as a test lab for new taxes and ill thought out social schemes”

    That one has me stumped but now you have so much devolution feeel free to treat you own populace as socialist lab rats – and answer at the ballot box for it”

    “Where foreign policy is decided in the bullingdon club”

    “you dont appear to know what the Bullingdon Club it but better its decided in the UK than nBrussels which is what wilol happen if you join the EU. Try selling to your population that you must control your own destiny by joining a mega EU Empire where decisions are taken by the Germans and French

  • chrisjones2

    “The EU is gasping to take us in”

    Dream on

    “The Union is on it’s last legs – suck it up, Chris”

    As if I care!!! I just point out the irrationality in your posts

  • BonaparteOCoonassa
  • Gerry Lynch

    If you want to understand the mental shift that is occurring among politically moderate middle-class Scots who had always been proud to be Scottish, British and European, follow Alex Massie on Twitter and read his stuff in The Spectator. He (and his father) were some the last true old-school Wet Tories still standing in Scotland; Brexit came as a profound shock. He isn’t the only Scots Tory who is considering, albeit far from convinced by, independence. And there are far larger numbers of normally Labour and LibDem middle-class Scots in the same position.

    It’s far from certain what Indyref 2 might bring – the evidence seems to be equally sized middle-class shifts towards independence and working-class shifts away from it post-Brexit – but the fact that people like the Massies are even considering it should provide everyone with food for thought. Including the SNP, who if they want to succeed will need to make space for people who don’t much like their party to come on board with independence.

    Although NI is more tribal than Scotland, such a sudden mental shift is not impossible among hitherto pro-Union Alliance, Green and even UUP voters. This is why the DUP beasting Mike Nesbitt, indeed using him as an excuse for their own failure, is so foolish.

    An interesting aside – Faisal Islam takes the opposite view from Brian: working in an environment where May’s speech was the big story on Friday, he thought that the NI Assembly election was the really earthshaking Brexit news last week.

  • Gerry Lynch

    The EU will take Scotland in. The political calculus has changed beyond recognition. When a Spanish Foreign minister says the EU should accept a Scottish membership application on the nod, and that minister happens to be a PP MP from Madrid old enough to have been part of the Francoist establishment, you know just how far the political calculus has changed.

  • Robert ian Wiliams

    No ..because the combination of Hiberno-Scots ( formerly Labour supporters)and the SNP core have peaked the limits of the SNP….I honestly believe there would be less support for a second attempt at an Independence Referendum. I think Theresa May is far more effective than Cameron.

  • Robert ian Wiliams

    A very helpful analysis ..thank you

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    1) You care – your posts reveal you as an ardent Unionist
    2) You have not pointed out any “irrationality” – you have just made assertions, backed by exactly no evidence.