“If I ruled out a referendum, I would be deciding that Scotland will follow the UK to a hard Brexit…”

The political gamble of Ms Sturgeon’s life, or so says Alex Massie in the Spectator. Well, maybe. She hasn’t actually called anything yet, just flagged her intention to do so within a set timeframe. However…

Brexit, she confirmed, has changed everything. Before the EU referendum she had accepted there could be no grounds for a second referendum unless or until such time as there was evidence a significant number of Scots had changed their minds and were now prepared to back independence.

Those rules, those calculations, ceased to apply on 23 June last year. Brexit created an opportunity. Now she intends to take it, buoyed by the most recent polling which put support for independence on 50 percent.

Here we go again, then. Technically, Theresa May can say No. She can, if she chooses, tell the Scots that, actually, you cannot have your referendum. It is hard to see how that line can be held, however, given the precedent set in 2014 and the evident change in circumstances after Brexit.

Sturgeon’s speech is lengthy, but this section here underwrites Massie’s hunch that the Yes side’s preferred line will be Take Back Control. Sound familiar?

We didn’t choose to be in this position. In common with most people across the country, I wish that we weren’t. But we are, and the stakes are high – so we must have a plan for the way forward.

For better or worse – depending on your point of view – the future of the UK looks very different today than it did two years ago.
As a result of the Brexit vote we face a future, not just outside the EU, but also outside the world’s biggest single market.

In addition, the collapse of the Labour Party means that we face a prolonged period of uninterrupted and unchecked Conservative government at Westminster. Some predict that the Tories could be in power now at Westminster until 2030 or beyond.

And after a period which has seen the establishment of the Scottish Parliament and, more recently, hard won extensions to its responsibilities, we now face the prospect of a centralization of power at Westminster.

……

It has implications for our economy: for jobs, opportunities, public spending, and living standards – and for our ability to protect and advance our vital day to day priorities in education, health and business.

It has implications for our society – how open, welcoming, diverse and fair we will be in future?

And it has implications for our democracy – to what extent will we be able to determine our own direction of travel, rather than having it decided for us?

It’s worth repeating the last lines of Ms Sturgeon’s speech in this particular regard:

I know there are some who want me to rule out a referendum completely or delay the decision until much further down the line. I understand why some take that view. And of course, these views weigh heavily on me.

But so does this. And this, for me, is a key consideration.

If I ruled out a referendum, I would be deciding – completely unilaterally – that Scotland will follow the UK to a hard Brexit come-what-may, no matter how damaging to our economy and our society it turns out to be.

That should not be the decision of just one politician – not even the First Minister. By taking the steps I have set out today, I am ensuring that Scotland’s future will be decided not just by me, the Scottish Government or the SNP.

It will be decided by the people of Scotland. It will be Scotland’s choice. And I trust the people to make that choice.

Challenges for Yes include the current state of the public accounts (they have a deficit touching on NI’s high levels), and the crash in oil prices. Interestingly, with the Euro recovering (don’t look too closely at Greece) currency choice may be less contentious than it was in September 2014.

The Labour party’s abject state allows the SNP to contrast their stated values and pitch it against that of more Brexit-minded England. That said, in Scotland’s current state the Nordic model doesn’t look like a goer this time.

The biggest problem is similar to what Republicans in NI currently face: ie, the necessary management of expectations. Earlier last year I argued (somewhere on Slugger) that if the UK could not be persuaded to retain the EU Scotland would have difficulty leaving the UK over it.

It’s not a clean, clear proposition, yet at least. Sturgeon cannot offer a clean choice between Brexit plus UK or Indy plus EU. Her government is aging and falling in popularity. She may not be able to rely on the “tactless bluster” and “near-colonialist arrogance and deafness” of the pro-union side.

And she’s facing an opposition of Scottish Tories, who are unlikely, as Scottish Labour plainly was, to be embarrassed by charges of ‘Unionist’ or acquiesce in the SNP’s former case for home-grown social democracy. However, they will have one clear message to broadcast:

Plenty of people who should know better will now suggest Sturgeon has blundered today. The economic case for independence, they will say, has never been weaker; the complications of EU-membership after independence never more obvious. And what, by jove, of the relationship between Edinburgh and London after independence?

All strong arguments of weighty concern. There will be many other imponderables too. But if politics is, at least in part, a matter of story-telling then one side has an obvious advantage. The SNP, it is clear, will fight this referendum – if there is, as seems probable, a referendum – on a simple, three word, platform: TAKE BACK CONTROL. Of course, such a simplistic slogan could never win, could it?

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  • Old Mortality

    ‘one of the richest countries in the world PP’
    You should know by now that’s not true. A few years of rapidly growing income does not make you as wealthy as countries which have enjoyed superior growth over a much longer period of time. And a goodly part of the wealth is owned by foreigners (Apple etc).

  • Old Mortality

    ‘We all know the benefits the EU brings to NI’
    Lots of handouts?

  • Old Mortality

    I think you’ll find that most of the Marshall Plan was spent in rebuilding continental Europe, but I’m sure you’ve got the exact figures to hand.

  • Katyusha

    Hahaha.
    Chris, you are seriously comparing Scotland (a nation that would formerly have been an EU member and already complies with all European standards and norms) with Turkey, and the states of the former Yugoslavia that not very long ago were in the throes of a series genocidal ethnic wars?

    There is no queue. It is a process, individual to each candidate. There is no reason why other states have to wait for Turkey to join just because they’ve been waiting in line the longest.

    You may be right that this is a bluff, as Sturgeon knows that May cannot possibly risk granting the Scots another referendum at this moment; Westminster’s denial of Scotland’s legitimate aspirations will further stoke nationalist fervour. But even if Scotland has to reapply to join the EU, there is no real barrier to their accession.

  • mac tire

    “You even rely on the UK to police your airspace!!!!”

    And the UK relies on the USA for nuclear cover. So what’s your point? We live in an interdependent world.

  • the moviegoer

    Not to hand but I remember it from a documentary. Google is great though so here is the true picture. UK got more money than Germany, France or any other continental country.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/modern/marshall_01.shtml

    Interestingly, the hubris that saw the Marshall Plan money squandered on dreams of reclaiming former glory is the same type of hubris leading the UK to Brexit.

  • Fear Éireannach

    Despite the “the many many denials on Slugger” you continue to talk of a queue., Yet as per your post above, Turkey applied in 1987 while the Czech Republic applied in 1996, it joined 8 years later while Turkey is still waiting. So there is no “queue” where you have to wait behind others, you are judged on your own merits. So your post is a bit of a political con.

  • Ciaran O’Neill

    I’m just trying to get my head around the fact that one of the site’s chief Brexiters is quoting the Spanish Foreign Minister. What was it that we heard about faceless bureaucrats from Europe again? I loves me a good 180 degree turn

  • Fear Éireannach

    “most young people have been emigrating again”
    I think we need a citation for this one.

  • eireanne3

    “My great grandfather fought with the Connaught Rangers in WW1 and despite giving his all for King and country, upon his return to Belfast he faced nothing but discrimination as he tried to build a better life for himself and his young family”.

    here’s what happened to many people like Ciaran’s great-grandfather

    https://eurofree3.wordpress.com/2013/11/14/catholic-ex-servicemen-dont-count/

  • eireanne3

    “Our people have low self esteem”
    Who or what fostered the “low self-esteem ” over generations?

  • Madra Uisce

    No dont ask Chris to educate himself. I love reading his posts its a mixture of Comical Ali and Alf Garnett and brightens up my day

  • eireanne3

    Time to nail this “EU queue” fallacy.
    Applying for EU membership is not the same as lining up at a bus-stop or picking a number for service at a supermarket.
    For the series “They were here before me so they get in/on/served/ first”

    If we need an analogy, it’s more like applying for University
    Criteria are set (e.g. 3 A stars) – if you have them, you’re in.
    If you haven’t, you’re told what you need and the University of your choice waits until you satisfy their criteria before accepting you as a student.

    Same with the EU. Scotland may join a pool applying for membership (and even this is debateable) but will have 40+ years credentials of satisfying EU criteria to put on the table.
    Who’s looking at fast-track admission ?

  • Old Mortality

    You may be right, but I somehow think that it’ll take a lot of propaganda to compensate for the financial gap left by one its largest members.

  • Old Mortality

    Perhaps Gavin, like me, simply wouldn’t care to be considered Irish.

  • Ciaran O’Neill

    And that’s fair enough, it’s your right. The point I’m making is that it’ll be up to unionists to convince us that a union with a country that doesn’t value us much is worth keeping. What is the long term plan for us within the union? I’ve asked several unionists on here but never get an answer

  • eireanne3

    no problem – be British but remember you cannot stop the march of the Irish nation. Living on the island of Ireland does not give you that right

  • Katyusha

    Oh don’t worry; Theresa May is at as well.
    “Take Back Control” means relying on the Spanish to protect UK interests.
    We’re a long way through the looking-glass at this stage.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Would the DUP call one they think they can win. 😀

  • Kevin Breslin

    Wages are higher in the Republic of Ireland than they are in Northern Ireland.

    P.S. As a European and a Globalist, I see the man and woman of Kent as part of my “we” too. I have family in North Humberland and Dundee and family in Donegal and Monaghan, I’m not keen on playing family vs. family here. I’ve have friends from Bosnia, France, Spain, the US, Austria, Belguim, the Netherlands, Jordan, Australia and at one stage even Turkmenistan … so I don’t think someone else’s we should define mine.

    Maybe when a customs and trade border emerges in their backyard down in Kent they were constantly told would never happen, these people in Kent can empathize with what we in Ireland were saying was going to happen all along!

  • Kevin Breslin

    Yes, we buy enough Kerrygold to make a return on that 1 Euro per person investment and a lot more then some.

  • Kevin Breslin

    The EU largest trading block in the world. 😀

  • Kevin Breslin

    The UK will be seventh replaced by India in 2020.

    Out of the five most populous nations in western Europe, it comes third for overall wealth just ahead of Spain and Italy, behind Germany and France. So it’s pretty much mid-table for where it is.

  • Kevin Breslin

    People are struggling in Belfast too, I don’t think leaving the European Union is going to do a damn thing but make life worse for them.

  • Brendan Heading

    Ireland was never bin the UK – not for hundreds of years anyway. It was generously allowed an Irish Parliament though, like Scotland, it did keep buggering it all up

    Chris,

    Your history is in a complete mess, as is your concept of “generosity”. Ireland was not in the UK when it had a Parliament. The Parliament was removed not because it kept “buggering up” but because the the British government was anxious to control its colonial possession.

  • Brendan Heading

    Ireland a haven for cheap labour? The same Ireland where the average wage is some £8000 above the average for NI? You must be joking!

    Ireland’s labour is still cheap compared to other places; and you’ll note that Ireland is much more successful at attracting inward investment than Northern Ireland is.

    Are you saying the UK doesn’t look for inward investment?

    No he isn’t, but let’s have some fun anyway.

    What about Nissan, Toyota, Honda, BMW, Ford, Vauxhall?

    Nissan recently threatened the UK with pulling out of Sunderland, even after it obtained a concession directly from Number 10. BMW is delaying a decision on where it will produce the electric mini until the brexit situation becomes clearer. Ford has decimated its manufacturing capacity in the UK in recent decades. There are serious concerns about the future of Vauxhall manufacturing in the UK once the merger with PSA goes ahead. Toyota is one of the big firms that warned of brexit consequences although it hasn’t made any threats yet.

    To be fair the Honda plant is doing very well and Honda are building the new global Civic platform there.

    Not to mention foreign owned utilities such as EDF (French), E.On (German), Northumbrian Water (Chinese) etc.

    You are bragging about the UK’s decision to privatise its power plants and water utilities and sell them to foreign countries ?

  • Havelock Vetinari

    Wouldn’t the Scots be better off being ruled by a Scottish parliament at Edinburgh rather than a predominantly English one at Westminster? After all, Westminster will always put the interests of England first since that is where most of its members come from.

  • Havelock Vetinari

    Since most “Ulster” unionists are descended from people from England and Scotland and consider themselves to be British, why then don’t they just move back to Britain and let the north of Ireland be unified with the Republic? The problem seems to be that unionists want to live under British rule but not live in Britain itself.

  • Havelock Vetinari

    And what is “Northern Irish”? Are these people who want Northern Ireland to become an independent nation?

  • Havelock Vetinari

    Personally I find it ridiculous that any nation can have a monarch in the 21st century and consider itself to be a modern nation.

  • Havelock Vetinari

    Three hundred years ago, England was a rising power in the world. Today it isn’t. The EU is much more powerful than the UK.

  • Havelock Vetinari

    The main problem is that you have a bunch of crazy British people who want to live under British rule but don’t want to live in Britain itself.

  • Brendan Heading

    North Down DUP:

    my wife is Romanian

    I’m curious to understand why a person married to an EU citizen is actively supporting a process which threatens their right to live in the UK.

  • Havelock Vetinari

    I hope you make yourself laugh. At least one person should find your nonsense funny.

  • Havelock Vetinari

    If that wavering voter considers himself to be British then I know a place he can move to that is filled with British people.

  • Havelock Vetinari

    Wasn’t that a Protestant-run parliament like Stormont?

  • North Down dup

    1 she isn’t a sponger, highly skilled can get into any country as a lot of Romanians hear are highly skilled , 2 most of the romanians can’t stand the eu , 3 lots of eastern Europeans are very conservative as is my wife am dup she likes tuv

  • North Down dup

    UK is still British , I don’t have to live in Britain, I can live in NI under British rule

  • Deeman

    I stand corrected!

  • ScottishClive22

    Unlikely that Marty will be around for the poll. Gerry most likely, but not convinced the vote will go his way.

  • ScottishClive22

    but the still might not care.

  • ScottishClive22

    Does ROI really want to have this basket case of NI? How with FG and FF deal with SF, DUP etc in the dail. Belfast is not Dublin, but it sure is bigger and more arrogant that Cork or Galway – easily the second city and would demand stuff that Dublin owns.

  • chrisjones2

    Another one advocating the old ethnic or political cleansing. This site is getting a very faschistic tone

  • chrisjones2

    When it sold itself

  • chrisjones2

    I didnt say it was …i pointed out that it WAS NOT

    Its a good idea to read the posts before you challenge

  • chrisjones2

    They cant ever. No-one can unless the result is likely to be a UI

  • burnboilerburn

    If you’re a hurler or a footballer they certainly do care for sure

  • Annie Breensson

    Brendan, I suggest you re-read my post bearing in mind the bits with a vertical bar are quotes from Gavin’s post that I was trying to rebut.

    And no, I was not bragging. Simply pointing out that a large part of the GB critical infrastructure is already owned by overseas investors; something Gavin seems to think would be undesirable in a unitary Scotland. (I agree with his point)

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Are you joking? I do hope so …

  • NotNowJohnny

    That’s the benefit the UK brings to NI.

  • NotNowJohnny

    You may well be but that doesn’t change the fact that you don’t actually know.

  • NotNowJohnny

    I have no idea what you are saying here.

  • NotNowJohnny

    I’m still lost.

  • Roger

    Not sure. But i wouldn’t bank on them manning the ‘bearna baoil’.

  • NotNowJohnny

    Did you miss the question? It wasn’t a difficult one.

  • Barneyt

    I complained about 10 months ago that there was not enough news. Careful what you wish for.

  • Barneyt

    I don’t like that stuff… go back to where you came from? Not good. It discounts time and a history that many are not responsible for. With all the rights and wrongs in this history, at the end of the day we have a mixed society that have more in common than we care to admit. Just not discovered it yet. I distance myself from comments like this but mlu…not sure it’s s joke

  • Kevin Breslin
  • Annie Breensson

    Do you mean like that charmer Nigel Farage, Brendan?

  • Annie Breensson

    Go back a couple of days to this post, Reader. GS is arguing that a union with GB should be maintained because UI would lead to all sorts of depravity. I’m trying to make him aware that GB may not be all he wishes.

  • chrisjones2
  • MainlandUlsterman

    Thanks Barney. You have no idea how heartening it is to hear people from the nationalist community as offended by the disrespect of P/U/L people as we are. I hope you know I’m on your side against any unionist if and when the situation is reversed.

  • john millar

    “Ireland a haven for cheap labour? The same Ireland where the average wage is some £8000 above the average for NI? You must be joking!”

    Would this be where all earning over 35000 Euro (£31000 ?) are taxed at 40% + 9 % social charge ?

    How much is the average worker left with ?
    what are his associated living costs ?

  • john millar

    Why don`t those Irish chappies just locate a few miles south and be part of the Republic ?

  • john millar

    “Demography changes ” Growing populations”

    Euphemisms for poisoning the biosphere and rendering inconvenient species extinct
    Add the familiars of famine at worst and social pressures at best.

    Demograph how are you

  • john millar

    “Oh really, so why was there one in 1973?”

    To legitimise the place of NI in the UK
    To shut up the UI brigade
    To counter the British occupation mantra of (particularly) Irish america

    Because its result would not suit the various republican fellow travellers the idea of the poll was resisted right across the AFM republican outfits

    After it was over they then claimed that Roman Catholics had not voted (in spite of clear evidence to the contrary) and thus it did not count

  • Reader

    Surveyor: English politicians went up to Scotland…some of those English politicians turned out to be arch Brexiteers…
    OK. I’m stumped. Could you list a few names and I’ll check them out?

  • Kevin Breslin

    And it was called by the Unionist government at the time wasn’t it?

  • Scots Anorak

    In what way is the Scottish Government falling in popularity? When I click on the link, I get something from 2012.

  • Hugh Davison

    Ted, the difference between then and now is Brexit. Last time it was stay in the UK and the EU or leave both. Now the gamble is probably EU or UK.

  • Hugh Davison

    Obviously. Big mistake that was, OM. Should have slaughtered all of them. Problem solved.

  • Hugh Davison

    Have you asked her how old the earth is?

  • Hugh Davison

    Links, please?

  • Hugh Davison

    Links, please??

  • Hugh Davison

    So, who is the threat to Ireland, and why?

  • Hugh Davison

    The definition of a pompous g*t includes that he doesn’t realise he’s a pompous g*t.

  • Hugh Davison

    I expect Scotland will have a guarantee of easy re-entry to the EU when a referendum takes place. It’s in the EU’s interest, and may even be beneficial to the exiting rest of UK.

  • Roger

    Regrettably I don’t offer Wikipedia service!

  • john millar

    Er no it was called by the Brits Stormont had been closed in 1972

  • john millar

    Where has the money for the benefits come from ? Hint NOT the ROI

  • Kevin Breslin

    Thanks, I wasn’t sure.

  • NotNowJohnny

    I have absolutely no idea what your point is here. Were you following the discussion?