Gordon Brown storms in with a “third option” for Scotland and the UK. The ideal compromise, or too much, too late?

 

Churn over Theresa May’s flat refusal to allow Indy ref 2 continues unabated. The reality of identity politics is proving a lot more complicated than the dream. The big move today is Gordon Brown’s “third option” of a federalising UK  of which more in a moment. But first a verdict on yesterday. May was caught short by Sturgeon springing the referendum demand on her. Did  the prime minister  over-react in haste and did she have only herself to blame for the SNP raising the stakes and the  temperature? – a key question in Mure Dickie’s lengthy piece in  the weekend FT (£)

The May administration has offered no substantial public response to a 50-page Scottish government paper proposing special post-Brexit arrangements — including continued membership of the EU single market. Calls for devolution of immigration powers have been waved aside. Mrs May has even signalled willingness to unilaterally redraw Scotland’s devolution settlement to ensure powers exercised by the EU go to Westminster, not Edinburgh. “She started well with her overtures to the first minister and making Edinburgh her first visit . . . but that may have raised expectations she has not been able to follow through on,” says  Edinburgh political professor Nicola McEwen.

In an interview Smart Alex Salmond leaps in with a super-confident analysis of the indyref2’s’chances which he believes checkmates all the objections to Scottish independence
On the Brexit vote

 “I said to Cameron three things — one, that he should introduce in the Referendum Bill that all four nations should have to agree if it was Brexit; two, that 16 and 17-year-olds should vote . . . and thirdly, that European citizens should vote. He refused all of them. If he’d accepted any two out of three, there’d have been a Remain vote and he’d still be prime minister.”

The question of continuity that matters is continuity within the single marketplace, the European Economic Area. Don’t underestimate the reservoir of goodwill that Scotland has now.

Asked how this would disrupt trade between England and Scotland, he pointed out that Mrs May has already promised no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. “It’s totally impossible to argue you can have a frictionless border on the Foyle but you can’t have one on the Tweed.”

On the May government’s handling of Northern Ireland

(He) blamed the prime minister for events in Northern Ireland, where unionists have lost their majority in the Stormont assembly. “Unlike Cameron, and Blair — God help me — and Major in particular, who all put a heavy shift into Northern Ireland, she’s allowed a Northern Irish impasse to develop. An active prime minister with an active Northern Irish secretary could have avoided this. And one of the things you might have thought of to avoid it would have been to say ah, this single market thing’s quite interesting.”

In the last referendum, unionists portrayed independence as a risky scenario that could jeopardise pensions and public services.

On the crucial currency question

Mr Salmond said he was open to changing his 2014 view that the best option was a currency union between Scotland and the remainder of the UK. “You can’t do something which the other side could have a veto over,”

On agreeing trade terms with the UK

“I’m sure that these £40bn of English exports [to Scotland a year] will concentrate the mind of whoever’s prime minister after Theresa May. I fancy that guy David Davis

Remembered for his intervention in  Indyref 2014’s late scare that the SNP  were winning the campaign,  Gordon Brown has again intervened  on the last day of the SNP conference with a repeat of his plan for a federal UK and more powers for Holyrood. As I pointed out yesterday the latter could be fruitful territory for cooling the  temperature  between May and Sturgeon. One of  the first minister’s  grievances is her claim that Westminster is going for a power grab for control over agriculture and  the environment currently residing  in Brussels  that should properly be devolved. Westminster argues they need  some powers to be able to negotiate new agreements in these areas with other countries.

In the Daily Record last year, the Better Together advocate and former senior civil servant Jim Gallagher  enumerated the economic case against independence post-Brexit  in the Daily Record.

  Nearly a third of Scotland’s economy is trade with England, but there could suddenly be Customs posts on that Border.

There would no question of keeping the UK pound with Scotland in the EU and Britain out, and the new Scottish pound would hit jobs by making trade harder.

On top of all that, Scotland couldn’t share resources with the rest of Britain. Given our £15billion deficit, to get to a remotely acceptable fiscal position we’d need cuts that would make George Osborne look like a soft-hearted Santa Claus.

This is all obvious – but Brexit means radical change for Scotland’s position in the UK as well. When EU rules no longer apply, opportunities open up for Scotland to make its own choices on agriculture, fisheries and economic development.

This is the hook to attract  Scotland in Gordon Brown’s “ third option” proposals today,  set out  in the same paper ahead of a major speech

 

The third option gives us a basis for uniting a still divided country. It consists of:

  • Repatriation of powers from Europe to the Scottish Parliament rather than to Westminster, so – as advocated by Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale – decisions in the key areas of agriculture, fisheries, environmental regulation and employment will be made here in Scotland.

The right of the Scottish Parliament to determine their own regional economic policy and take action in support of our own industries.

  • The right of the Scottish Parliament to decide the rate of VAT – or even a replacement sales tax – for where currently revenues are assigned.
  • The right of the Scottish Parliament to independently negotiate treaties with European and other countries on matters within its powers.
  • Scottish industry and Scottish universities to have support to access European Union programmes like Horizon for ground-breaking research and Erasmus for students.
  • Guarantees that Scotland cannot be taken out of the European Convention on Human Rights or the EU social chapter without the consent of the Scottish people.
  • A new UK-wide council of the nations and regions so they all have a say in future trade negotiations.(a reformed House of Lords).
  • On the pound, pensions, basic welfare rights and defence and security, Scotland to retain the benefits that come from being within the UK – with the Bank of England renamed the Bank of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and fully staffed up to support Scotland’s economy.

Some call the new federal-style settlement for the Union “Federal Home Rule”.

Let me send a message today – and I will fight, fight and fight without end for this in the weeks and months ahead – that from now on, the debate on the future of Scotland will no longer be limited to two options.

The patriotic Scottish way would give Scotland the benefits of being in Britain while seeking and securing the closest possible ties with Europe.

We don’t need to be imprisoned by one form of extremism – the Tories who would grab power from Brussels and make the UK an even more centralised state – and another form of extremism – a more hardline SNP who would take us out of the British single market, putting at risk many of the one million jobs linked to it.

As ever Brown makes  a powerful appeal but it is open to two basic objections.

When he raised it before it fell like a lead balloon in Scotland –  it lacks the simple appeal of independence and has a whiff of appeasement about  it.

It’s vulnerable to the charge of the tail wagging the dog. There’s little appetite for major constitutional change in England. Indeed a new poll in England suggests Brexit enjoys more support than saving the Union.

Brown will argue that when tempers cool, economic reality will dawn and the attractions of his third option will hove into view.

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  • Deeman

    I thought Gordon made similar promises last referendum? He is not even in government. Looks like he is trying to play another ace card from an old pack of cards.

  • Gavin Smithson

    His proposals are incoherent. How could Scotland make its one international treaties if it’s not sovereign? What happens or who arbitrates if Scotland’s treaties are incompatible with U.K. treaties?

    Browns Vow and now this is like throwing a bone to a slavering nationalist dog. It may satisfy them for 10 seconds but they won’t be greatful for it and will come back for more.

    Arlene was right about nationalist demands being like feeding crocodiles. It’s the same the world over.

    Scrap Holyrood

  • Obelisk

    It’s too late Brian.

    This is beginning to look like a re-run of what happened a hundred years ago when the Union between Ireland and Britain finally started breaking down.

    Unionists resist a proposed compromise. Eventually, and with extreme reluctance, they adopt the compromise. Then they find, to their horror, that their delaying tactics have forced the people further down the road of separatism and the compromise is no longer enough.

    It happened here. One Tory moaned ‘We are all Home Rulers now’ in the aftermath of the First World War and by then the situation couldn’t be salvaged.

    I have no doubt that in time Theresa May will come around to this proposal. She may even champion it. She will come to around it however once plan A, Brexit being a huge smashing success that enriches everyone, turns out to have been just a tad over-optimistic.

    I mean that’s clearly the plan. Deny the Referendum, bet that Brexit is everything people said it was, and allow the new wave of prosperity to wash the pro-independence feelings away.

    Given that Brexit doing that is probably magical thinking, Theresa May wrapping the fate of the Union into the outcome of the negotiations is a staggering political risk. Politics doesn’t get much higher stakes than this.

  • Obelisk

    I think we can at least agree on Brown’s suggestions being incoherent. Give Holyrood ALL the powers he suggests and independence would happen anyway…they’d already de facto have it. It smells of desperation, he can see what’s coming and is frantically trying to propose a formula to fix it.

    Still at the very least he would speed up the inevitable and once done, the Scots could move on to build their country their way.

    The Union has outlived it’s usefulness, it is a straight-jacket binding two massively divergent political cultures together.

    Time to dissolve it.

  • eireanne3

    with regards to the Brown compromise – Scotland’s been there and done that before the 2014 referendum. It has seen what the VOW meant in terms of English Votes for English Laws and the new Scotland Act.

    And the T-shirt says something about DéjàVow, being mugs, fool me once, . . . .
    Not to mention its a “third way” the conservative party has never accepted and never will.

    of course unelected Gordon Brown might just have been wheeled on to grab the headlines on mainstream news before FM Nicola Sturgeon’s speech at the SNP conference this afternoon!!!

  • Kevin Breslin

    The problem I have with British unionism is that unlike Cameron, Robinson and Brown, British political unionism cannot really be honest with itself as it once was, just like British European unionism struggled to be in large parts of England.

    Unionism has become all about project fear and damage mitigation when it needs self-reflection.

    The family of nations is a nice idealism, but with Brexit introducing a huge wave of divisions and a bitter divorce the sheer insincerity from Westminster of its own making is pretty much doing the nationalists’ job for them.

    Westminster is tied to insincere populism just to keep England within the union, and many English are sick of that.

  • Fear Éireannach

    Firstly, Cameron is at fault here, as having saved Scotland for the Union, he failed to show them any respect, some requirement that each bit of the Union had to approve Brexit would have been one such respect that would have saved both unions.

    Salmond contends “It’s totally impossible to argue you can have a frictionless border on the Foyle but you can’t have one on the Tweed.

    Of course, this isn’t true and Salmond is quite smart enough to know this. A customs separation from England would retain a frictionless land border for NI and introduce some additional paperwork on the more easily enforced sea traffic. A customs separation from England would introduce a difficult to enforce land border for Scotland to achieve a frictionless sea border. Not the same thing at all at all.

  • chrisjones2

    Why is it necessary to continually throw buns to the SNP Crocodile when it lost the last referrendum and has set itself up to lose any future ones.

    As for Brown this is the man whose policies precipitated the UK Banking Crash, the deepest recession in history and the evisceration of his own Party as a political force in the UK. Would you but a used car on his advice?

  • Fear Éireannach

    Perhaps because they represent a large number of citizens?

  • Fear Éireannach

    Theresa May has already been there and turned around before

    http://i64.tinypic.com/6patkk.png

  • Kevin Breslin

    Even the new London mayor Sadiq Khan is refusing to buy Boris Buses from Wrightbus after clownish idealism from Boris Johnson, Giesla Stuart and Kate Hoey.

  • Keith

    I don’t entirely disagree with you about lack of respect. However, I think we also need to acknowledge that no level of respect would change the SNP’s desire and active drive for independence. That’s fair enough as they’re a nationalist party after all. The point is, whatever Cameron or Westminster did, the SNP will still agitate and seek to inflame public opinion in Scotland. Harmony simply does not serve the SNP’s agenda.

    Giving each nation in the UK a veto would be wrong in my view. A step too far towards respecting the smaller nations. Scotland voted to remain in the UK, and as a consequence will be bound by UK-wide decisions.

    The smaller members of the Union can’t expect to cherry-pick the parts of the Union that suit them.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2017/03/14/why-economic-data-provided-by-london-will-not-help-the-scottish-independence-debate/

    Richard Murphy

    “What I want to discuss is the claim that Scotland has a weak economy. This claim is based on four figures. The first is Scottish GDP. The second is Scottish tax revenues. The third is Scottish government spending. The last is the Scottish balance of payments (imports v exports). My contention is simple: all four may be seriously mis-stated, in which case to base debate on them would be a serious mistake.

    Why might the data be mis-stated? First, there simply isn’t enough data to reliably estimate Scottish GDP. We have no figures for where sales take place in the UK, for example. VAT returns are an utterly unreliable source for this: a UK company does not submit data separately on sales in Scotland from elsewhere. The same is largely true on spending. So forget Scottish GDP data: we just don’t know what it is.

    Then there are tax revenues. That VAT point still stands. And the truth is Scottish Revenue are struggling to be sure who is resident in Scotland whilst on corporation tax there is no way of knowing where revenues are earned at present. And so on.

    So we come to spending. The allocation of government spending to Scotland will be arbitrary: how much defence should it pay, for example? Or interest? The arbitrary areas will be too great for this number to really be reliable. In which case what of Scottish imports and exports? Let’s be blunt: no one has a clue what crosses the borders from Scotland to England and Northern Ireland. These numbers are literally made up in that case.

    So two further issues, both serious. One is Westminster could pretty much manipulate this data at will. And two, nothing will be the same if Scotland leaves: a government of an independent Scotland will have a very different structure to that imposed now.

    My point? Simply this: if there is to be meaningful debate on this issue then the SNP have a lot of work to do to produce best possible data. The last thing they should do is trust that from London.

    Postscript: I am well aware that the Scottish government publishes GERS – Government Expenditures and Revenues Scotland. And I know this is compiled in Scotland. But it is compiled on the basis of estimates. It has to be. No one declares data for Scottish sales. Or Scottish profits. Revenue Scotland is not sure who Scottish taxpayers should be – and has struggled on such a basic issue. And there is no data on trade flows across the Scottish or Norther Ireland borders because none is required. There is no Customs post in Carlisle. In which case the data is just estimates based on surveys that could be wholly misleading and as a result is approximations for the UK as a whole adjusted for oil, which may overstate the impact of oil as a result. The real result may be better or worse than GERS says. I am not suggesting otherwise. What I am saying is better data is needed because all we have are some estimates that might be wholly misleading but which are going to be treated as fact.

    And if you doubt me this comes from the GERS homepage:

    The primary objective is to estimate a set of public sector accounts for Scotland through detailed analysis of official UK and Scottish Government finance statistics. GERS estimates the contribution of revenue raised in Scotland toward the goods and services provided for the benefit of the people of Scotland.

    It’s an estimated set of accounts based on estimated revenues based on UK statistics as my emphases show. The debate needs better than that.”

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    In this case you are right – Brown is a discredited has-been – no-one will again believe in his ‘vows’ – which he has no power to deliver.

    But as for the next Indi referendum, you are of course grasping at Unionist straws.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    If “the smaller members of the Union can’t expect to cherry-pick the parts of the Union that suit them”, then the union is clearly for the benefit only of England, and is not advantageous to them.- result – they will leave it.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Just as Scotland and NI are “tied to insincere populism just to keep them within the union, and many of them are sick of that.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Nicely recalled.

  • Fear Éireannach

    Respect might not change the ambitions of the SNP, it might affect the proportion of the Scottish people willing to vote for them.

  • Karl

    Hands up who’s going to believe Gordon this time?

  • Kevin Breslin

    Well can I make a shout out to Wales who claim to want the Northern Irish border no less softer than their own. So we’re in a situation where the UK nations are England’s Straightjacket. It’s going to have to be a sub-optimal decision the English Government in Westminster have to settle for, as they can’t please all the regionalists in the family of nations. England wants hard borders with continental Europe, Scotland wants soft ones, Northern Ireland wants soft borders within Ireland, Wales want harder ones.

    It’s pretty much every nation for itself here.

    Certainly there seems to be more diplomatic problems between the UK nations than between any two EU nations even The Republic of Ireland and the U.K.

  • 1729torus

    As I said the last time Gordon Brown’s ideas were discussed here: granting autonomy in international affairs, even in things like Fisheries, would be particularly corrosive. The Scottish Government would still be less autonomous than the Free State, but would be undeniably more than just a devolved administration.

    Any increase in powers in foreign affairs will raise Scotland’s profile, and allow it to build connections with other states. So more countries would open consulates in Edinburgh which would give Scotland yet more profile and connections abroad. Scotland would eventually demand formal powers to conduct trade missions abroad and would end up with its own diplomatic corps, even within the UK.

    You can already see how how Scotland already has an its own foreign policy informally from Nicola visiting the EU or Salmond leading a delegation to Iran last year. Autonomy of this sort would make it much more noticeable and frequent because Scotland will be constantly interacting with other countries. This would make the country look like it’s already independent.

    Eventually some of these countries would attempt to convince Scotland that London’s tendency towards foreign adventures might not be the best idea, and the UK’s defence money is better spent on other things. Places like Russia or Argentina might invest in Scotland to influence it’s MPs in Westminster. Any of this would breed resentment in England.

    A large complication that I missed back then, is that Edinburgh is already entitled to Fisheries under the 1998 Scotland Act. This provision was probably not intended as a post-Brexit poison pill, but it is what it is.

  • Keith

    Yes, fair point.

  • Keith

    I don’t agree that it follows that the Union is therefore only for the benefit of the English. It’s just not the case that the smaller nations derive no benefit. I’m not English, but I think given the proportion of the UK population who are, the English are in fact remarkably generous to the smaller nations.

    You’re right, though, if it’s not to their liking, the smaller nations can leave. So far none have opted to do so, which indicates that they see more benefits than downside.

  • 1729torus

    Scotland could not enter into legally binding international treaties, but it could negotiate memoranda of understanding with Iceland or Norway over Fisheries, and it it could the transpose them in to devolved domestic legislation.

    This has already happened before in fact. Last October, Nicola Sturgeon visited Reykjavik to announce the signing of a MoU between Scotland’s and Iceland’s tourism boards.

    The Scottish Parliament is entitled to Fisheries post-Brexit since 1998 under the Scotland Act, so there is no new transfer of powers involved. The SNP only want to ensure existing agreements and legislation are adhered to.

  • Kevin Breslin

    1. There really are no frictionless customs borders that can be patrolled by paper and machines. That would simply be a case of a wet customs border with some viscous drag. There isn’t any real marine controls on our marine borders.

    2. The U.K. is adding frictional borders with France and Continental Europe anyway that apparently the Republic . Scotland could be free to decide for itself to favour Europe and Ireland over England if it wanted to.

    The only thing that is proven to be frictionless about Brexit is the clear lack of grip on the details that the UK government have on this.

  • Kevin Breslin

    They are deriving disadvantages and costs from being in this Union they previously did not have to face and the only opportunities being offered are in platitude form.

    The UUP’s request for extra finances for infrastructure and the DUP’s requests for a state aided corporation tax reduction have both been ruled out. There’s no Brexit windfall.

    Perhaps the only deal is creating a Northern Ireland wide enterprise zone which allows some conformity to the rest of Ireland and some conformity to the Rest of the U.K.

  • Scots Anorak

    Gordon Brown’s intervention is unlikely to make much difference. Although Scots are divided about independence, the devolution of just about any competence listed individually gets extremely high levels of approval in opinion polls. This suggestion is positively timid in comparison, and people don’t regard the last lot of devolution as having been in any way as substantial as Brown’s words at the time suggested. Indeed, the most salient objection, then as now, is the obvious one that federalism simply isn’t in his gift. He is the former leader of a party that has lost its way and is now far from power.

  • Fear Éireannach

    It may not be well worded, but is hardly rubbish. My point was that some of the models proposed are much more suited to marine borders where trucks has to go on a particular sailing than a delivery van crossing the Irish border half a dozen times each day.

  • the moviegoer

    Yes, if English nationalists already complain about Scots influencing English affairs too much, think how annoyed they’d be when Scotland is coming under the influence of foreign powers.

  • NotNowJohnny

    So then, which former PMs or senior government ministers do you think we should listen to as regards Brexit?

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Duplicated comment caused by browser settings. My apologies to all for wasting the space.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Or BEING a foreign power.

    But they’ll just have to face up to it.

    And the dissolution of the UK will be advantageous to England as well. It will free them up to become their own nation, no need to take account of Scottish sensibilities any more (not that they ever did anyway).

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Duplicated comment

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    I beg to disagree – we derive absolutely no benefit from being continually over-ruled by the Westminster Parliament. It is also not true that “none have opted to do so” – Ireland did in the 1920’s – it just indicates that the public in these remaining nations are being badly informed by the government and press. If the benefits were so great one would expect Ireland. New Zealand, Canada etc to be queueing up to re-join the empire – but conspicuously, they are not doing so.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Duplicated comment

  • hgreen

    Well the fact that you think Brown caused the banking crash ergo the sub prime mortgage problems in the US would make me doubt any opinions you have on financial matters.

  • Keith

    Sorry, but to say there are no benefits is patently not true. Of course, you can argue about whether or not the benefits outweigh the disadvantages, and your judgement on that will no doubt be influenced by whether you’re a Unionist or Nationalist.

    Ok, so yes part of Ireland left, but when I said none had I was thinking about more recent history. The notion that the absence of other countries wanting to join the UK means it’s of no value is really pretty daft.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    The Guardian today has an article quoting Guto Bebb, a tory junior minister, who said on his blog that Scotland was “clearly another country. My brief visit to Edinburgh left me somewhat despondent because I felt the same way as I do when I leave Dublin. For me, Dublin is somewhere which is recognisable but very different. That is fine in the context of the capital of an independent country but it should be a warning when visiting a city which is a crucial part of the UK. The sense of nationhood in Edinburgh is palpable.”

    So even the tories are starting to see that Independence for Scotland is inevitable. OK Belfast – your turn now.

  • eamoncorbett

    That’s fair enough if she can achieve a free trade deal with the EU at an enormous cost probably. But if she fails she may end up bribing all the regions just to keep them quiet. With regard to NI she will be dealing with an acquiescent DUP and a hostile SF , one things for sure , she’s got her work cut out for her and she will need the cheque book handy just to achieve peace.

  • chrisjones2

    There are far more living in the MIdlands and Opp North

  • Reader
  • chrisjones2

    “IT started in America” doesnt wash.It started with relaxed regulation in London and casino banking in the mortgage market

  • chrisjones2

    The currently elected ones – they carry the can and have the current information

  • chrisjones2

    Nope ……. shrewd assessment of the rational economic case in Scotland and Northern Ireland

  • chrisjones2

    Tourism is within their comptence and above all they have limited powers to break it

  • eireanne3

    not a bit of wonder – given what happened when Wright Buses went to London!!!

    https://eurofree3.wordpress.com/2013/07/06/a-cauldron-on-wheels-cant-ni-do-anything-right/

  • NotNowJohnny

    The question clearly related to ‘former’ PMs and Ministers. I would have thought it was obvious that current ones are in fact the only ones that fall outside the definition of ‘former’.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Yeah, I reread and I realised my mistake and my assumptions were rubbish.

  • William Kinmont

    On a practical note we (NI) have invested a lot in Belfast port and the Road to Larne such is the importance oft the sea link here to UK . Most of the lorries on arrival turn right and head to Gretna and England . However a long slow single carriageway awaits almost all the way to the M6. Scotland’s major investments on this route seem to be innumerable vosa checkpoints and speed cameras. Why would they invest on this route that is of little importance to them strategically yet so important to 2 of their major export competitors. NI and Republic both having similar export profiles to England as Scotland

  • Fear Éireannach

    Also Guardian poll showing 47% Scots in favour of Independence, 44% against, and the rest don’t know at this point.
    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/mar/18/majority-britons-believe-brexit-break-up-uk-nicola-sturgeon-theresa-may

  • hollandia

    Unfortunately, Brown’s third way was that which was promised during, and almost immediately reneged on after, indyref 1.

    I doubt that will be swallowed a second time.

  • 1729torus

    So is Fishing under the Scotland Act, so your argument doesn’t make sense.

  • epg_ie

    Lol. Tried before. 2014: Scots had choice of beef or salmon. Gordon Brown said you can have beef AND salmon! Then it turned out he had zero leverage with an English Cameron Conservative government. Now it is an ultra-English nationalist government and Gordon is saying he will use his leverage to give Scots beef and salmon AND ice cream if they just vote for Theresa May. Will they buy it?

  • Roger

    Scotland already has more autonomy than the Free State. The Magashule administration is very much under the thumb of Zuma.

  • Gavin Smithson

    Beef and Salmond more like

  • Gavin Smithson

    Anyone been to Texas? I have been fortunate to have visited it. It’s a v different animal and indeed semi foreign when compared to New Jersey but they are happily in the same country

    When I see the nationalist bickering in these islands, it’s like seeing a poodle arguing it’s as different from a bichon frise as it is from an elephant.

    The arrogance of small differences

  • Annie Breensson

    At least two parties are required for bickering. You have identified only one.

  • Fear Éireannach
  • 1729torus

    From the context, it was clear I was refering to the Irish Free State.

  • Neville Bagnall

    One of the real benefits to the UK of Brexit will be regaining control over Agriculture & Fisheries policy. There will, I imagine, be a significant number of trade deals concluded that gives industrial & services access for UK business in return for Ag and/or Fisheries access to the UK. Add in that doing so those deals will likely see rapid falls in food prices and consequent dismantling of subsidies and it becomes a no-brainer for London.

    It’s therefore no surprise that the Tories want control to return to London rather than be devolved. If Labour were in power, they’d want the power even more. You might argue that the Tories have a rural power base, but it’s not like they are facing any political competition from that direction. Plus, do they really care if agri-conglomerates take over English agriculture?

    It’s the right trade off for a UK economy ever more driven by the home counties, but I fear is going to lead to another era of “creative destruction” for the regions and the other nations – and probably the Republic; one to rival the Thatcher era when arguably they haven’t recovered from the last.

    A federal UK is a nice idea. But it cannot be of the nations. It would have to be of the regions. Even then, London and/or the home counties will be the elephants in the room. But it won’t happen. Everything in UK political culture is against it. Heck, hatred of pooling sovereignty is why the UK never “fitted” in the EU, why the AV referendum was lost, etc., etc.

  • Gavin Smithson

    Oh yes. And how many votes do they get? Please be serious

  • Gavin Smithson

    Yes. Irish, Scottish and Welsh nationalists are the one who instigate then bickering. Unionists try to quell it

  • chrisjones2

    Thats logically unsustainable

    Scotland gets around 10 billion benefits a year for example

  • chrisjones2

    What will affect them more is the funding …this fight isnt about independence at all , it is the SNP wanting more power while someone else pays the bills

  • chrisjones2

    “a hostile SF” – make a change from the last 20 years then?

  • chrisjones2

    Yes but you miss one point. TFL signed off the design and initially insisted no opening windows. Resulty – mobile glasshouse and an expensive retrofit programme to install opening windows

    The decisison not to order more is political. Thye are seen as Boris Buses and the labour Mayor doesnt want to support a huge success by his predecessor

  • chrisjones2

    Your point is frankly foolish and was dealt with recently on other posts. They are all ardent pro Europeans

  • chrisjones2

    Not all fisheries powers are devolved – like NI

  • Roger

    There hasn’t been one for almost 80 years.

  • Annie Breensson

    Got any examples of unionists attempting to quell it?

  • chrisjones2

    “There’s no Brexit windfall.”

    More fake news. You just dont know

  • eireanne3

    Boris/Wright buses were hardly a huge success if they were 1)described as a “cauldron upon wheels”,
    2)needed expensive retro-fits and
    3)nobody spotted the design flaw before they went into production!!
    The original decisison to order them appeared political

    https://eurofree3.wordpress.com/2013/07/06/a-cauldron-on-wheels-cant-ni-do-anything-right/

  • Ciaran O’Neill

    People just feel there is more to life than inserting your tongue into the anus of an Englishman

  • Kevin Breslin

    Northern Ireland was a net beneficiary of EU money, so unless you have evidence of additional Westminster largesse targeted towards Northern Ireland, it’s fair to say that Stormont is getting nothing.

    It may not even get any additional regional agriculture powers either.

    Heck it’s likely that Westminster will even take money back from Stormont’s block grant would be raided for border security and border controls.

    The pound isn’t the currency that is losing value the most in the Western World, in my opinion assurances from the UK government are.

    Even they cannot assure Northern Ireland getting more money or more power within the union. I’d say less and less on both counts.

  • NotNowJohnny

    You didn’t think it was so foolish that you wouldn’t respond to it. May I suggest that the only foolishness is you responding to an invitation to name a former government minister by naming a current one.

  • London Treatment

    couldn’t agree more!