Europa and the bull(shitters)
Us SNPers want the softest possible Brexit, because our border with England will be a European border, and we wish the freest, most open relationship across it.
A vindictive England could cause us serious problems after independence. Constraints of civility on both us and our neighbour are a good thing.
So, 1 year to go, things are going great. There is a clear coalition who want the same outcome — a UK more or less in the Customs Union and the Single Market — and that outcome remains the most likely.
This coalition ranges from the EU in general and Ireland in particular, through the combined Scottish political classes, and the bulk of the Labour and Tories in Westminster.
That position is drafted in the Phase I documents as the famous Option C fallback for ‘no border in Ireland’ — everybody in the Single Market and the Customs Union.
Ranged against this coalition is a motley bag of hard-right Tories and Corbyn’s coterie of Lexiteers.
Mrs May’s strategy appears to be to trumpet that Brexit is happening, will happen in a year, is a done thing. Brexit being Brexit, the red, white and blue Brexit is just around the corner.
But on ‘Brexit day’ we will only have withdrawn from the political institutions of the European Union — we will still be implementing EU laws, under the European Court of Justice, in the Single Market and the Customs Union — the full bhuna.
The Tory Party remains in a cold civil war — the Remainers have what they want written down in the agreement, the Brexiteers have nothing. Mrs May’s gambit of putting Brexiteers in the hot seat is going swimmingly.
The ludicrous Jacob Rees-Mogg, a berks idea of a Burke, managed to miss the boat for his own boat. He washed up on the banks of Thames delivering his I Have A Bream about the ‘betrayal’ of the fisherman in his trademark wooden Pinochettio fashion.
His bathetic disappointment, tempered with dreams of the great day to come, the cold sick quaffed today, for future greatness, is how it will go.
The Brexit-to-come of fervid prayers would need the uncommissioned Customs systems, the unacquired lorry parks across Northern Ireland, the uncreated Atomic Authority, the unconjoured new medicines agencies and so on. It is David Allen Green’s famous Beano — Brexit Existing As Name Only.
The Tories can’t agree, so they don’t agree, but only one side has a proposal on the stocks — and a team in Europe working it up. If the old remainers do nothing they win, so they do nothing.
Resignation is a coin that can be spent but once, and the Brexiteers are scared to spend it.
But each time they don’t it loses value.
Mrs May has contrived to give them not a pint of cold sick, but merely a cheeky shot of it. Close your eyes and chug, it will be over in a sec. Until tomorrow. And tomorrow and tomorrow.
And so Alexander ‘The Piffle’ Johnston goes about his wheedle in a haystack schtick, and Double D does his punch drunk shuffle, Slithey Gove slithes and Liam ‘Foxy’ Fox aaaand write the joke yourself.
The Brexiteers fold like cheap suits: on timing, on phasing, on Ireland, on fish.
Even their victories doom them. Fighting to remain in Galileo (sure, pay here, sign up to the ECJ here), the struggle for Open Skies, Netflix roaming and cheap phone deals on yer holiday.
All of these are bricks in the Customs Union, the Single Market, and each ‘victory’ already ‘won’ will be threatened unless they fold again when pressed; which they will.
For much as they love the broad idea of Brexit, they recoil in horror from the corporeal reality of it.
The Tories will go into the next election like Sinn Féin in 1922. Two parties trapped in one body, with Treaty and Anti-Treaty candidates in neighbouring constituencies not fighting each other for votes. Labour too.
Brexit-as-withdrawl-from-European-political-institutions-only is the worst of all worlds for supporters of the Union. It both eases Scotland’s journey out of the Union, and damages Union institutions and Britain’s place in the world beyond repair.
This most cynical rebadging of the status quo as a brave new world, this endless “the boy who cried Wolfgang”, this English domestic politics put in the deep freeze by this non-change fandango, all of this can and will have political consequences.
What is the point of Westminster consumed by this self-immolation?
One man’s cold sick is another man’s gazpacho. We, Scotland, have a functioning parliament and government and a functioning polity (importantly that includes both Scottish Labour and the Scottish Tories).
There is no automatic route to independence, it will be a hard won fight, and there is plenty of work to do. But our starting position is strong.
So raise your glass in a toast to Douglas Ross ¡Y Viva Europa!