However the story ends, whatever the date of whatever we call a second referendum on independence within the next two or five years, and whatever that referendum’s result, there is already an immediate and concrete result to the announcement of the referendum as an intention. By taking the concrete step of voting in Holyrood next week for the invocation of Article 30 applying for the necessary transfer of powers to hold that referendum, suddenly, to the massive and entertaining irritation of the chaotic, panic driven fog of the Brexiteers and their hapless, captive government in Westminster, Scotland’s interests will now have to be a factor in the UK Brexit negotiators’ considerations.
Nicola Sturgeon has forced our feet under the negotiating table. And if there is any Unionist commentator who thinks there was the remotest chance of that happening WITHOUT the threat of a referendum to balls up the Brexit process, then I have these three bridges over the Forth that I’d like to interest you in.
Indeed, if the rumours were true that the Tories were planning to crash the UK out of the EU by allowing the negotiations to fail, as seems likely, then that’s a damn sight more difficult now. A hard Brexit has Barnett consequentials in more ways than one. So it could be that the people of the UK as a whole now owe the SNP an enormous debt.
Nicola Sturgeon’s speech yesterday was emotional, and I think heartfelt, but the thinking behind it turns out to be even more pragmatic than I had anticipated. Because as we wake up this Sunday morning, not only are the Brits listening with a mixture of admiration and outrage, so are the Europeans. Make no mistake, the EU negotiators are not as open-hearted (and quietly practical) as the invitation to “come to Scotland” that was one of the highlights of yesterday’s speech. This is a power game, and for them, Scotland at this moment has principal value as a way of undermining the UK case. Depending on how things go, we can be a useful tool in the negotiations to come. Certainly, we can expect some back channels to open up. The Brits may not want to give us “a running commentary”, but there are 27 other people who will be glad to share… now.
Because it is only the leverage of a potentially independent Scotland that is meaningful to the Europeans. Make no mistake, without the threat of a referendum, they EU would not be taking Scotland…and the idea of our remaining while the rUK paddles off into the Imperial Twilight, at all seriously. We will be leaving the EU. And we will need to negotiate a new relationship as a European country if we vote to leave the UK. As we look at today’s opinion polls, that is not a done deal. But the process over the next two years will be politically gruelling (as are the five years after that) …and the divisiveness that the Unionists go on about will be universal. Scotland having finessed its own importance in this period will go down like a bucket of sick in all those parts of England and Wales which voted to leave and are going to get thoroughly shafted, with the City of London, Gibraltar, Northern Ireland and BLOODY Scotland once again using the remains of the ramshackle unwritten constitution of Ukania to their comparative advantage. The breaking up of Britain has been massively accelerated, and that isn’t just true here, no matter what the polls are saying right now. This is no longer a matter of mere opinion or preference. This is historical slippage and breakage. And it was always too big a job for Scotland on its own.
“Scotland having finessed its own importance in this period will go down like a bucket of sick in all those parts of England and Wales which voted to leave and are going to get thoroughly shafted, with the City of London, Gibraltar, Northern Ireland and BLOODY Scotland once again using the remains of the ramshackle unwritten constitution of Ukania to their comparative advantage. The breaking up of Britain has been massively accelerated, and that isn’t just true here, no matter what the polls are saying right now. This is no longer a matter of mere opinion or preference. This is historical slippage and breakage..”
Two things, I think, are clear, here and now, today…no matter what comes next. First, the people of Scotland became and remained sovereign for the first time in our history on September 18th 2014. “We may have chosen to remain in the UK, but WE chose. That was unprecedented, and history cannot take that back. Secondly, Brexit was a moment of English Nationalism that entirely took the British Ruling Class by surprise. And they have committed themselves to go with it. There is no no way I can see of the Union surviving in anything like its current form for…actually…more than another generation…no matter what the political exigencies that will lead us to a vote in the next five years…and no matter what the result.
It feels, this Sunday morning, like a done deal.
Tick, as I believe I’ve said before, Tock.