The Calamity of Real World Brexit

If a week is a long time in politics, then with the extraordinary times we are enduring I have no idea how to describe the just under a year between now and the prospective date that the Scotland and the UK may leave the EU. The excellent David Allen Green wrote this week that the legal doors to stop Brexit are closing or closed (Financial Times “The three legal paths to stop Brexit are blocked” – paywall). Where I would not dispute his analysis, I would disagree with his conclusion and, unlike the vast majority of people in these islands, as a Member of the European Parliament I’ll actually have a vote on it.

First a confession: my position is clearer than most. Scotland voted quite clearly and unanimously across all regions to remain, and that is my instruction. I also accept the current constitutional reality that Scotland is part of the UK and 52 is a bigger number than 48. Democracy matters, and something has to be delivered or the grievance that the ideologically pure, untainted, Brexit was somehow stolen will put rocket boosters on the next iteration of UKIP that will by then feel free to morph into something more like Britain First.

And I agree with Mr Green that we should of course care about what happens if Brexit does go ahead, but that doesn’t mean we should abandon the fight to make sense of it before it is inevitable. Opposing Brexit does not mean we give up our right have our say on what it will bring if it does happen.

The Scottish Government has put forward a range of solutions to a notably tin-eared UK government. The softest Brexit possible, with the UK in the Single Market and the Customs Union, is obviously the least damaging form of of brexit. But that would still be damaging to the UK and Scotland’s economy, and leave us in the position of having no representation in EU decision making bodies and scant influence over their decisions.

This is Brexit. Even the least bad Brexit is still pretty bad.

The legalities of Brexit are complex, but important. The EU is a legal construct. We have constitutional laws, no matter how often the UK Government tries to get round or indeed ignore them. I’m one of the litigants in the case to establish, as the UK Government refuses to, whether Article 50 can be revoked unilaterally. This is a crucial question and a lot could end up resting on it. This is a live case before the Inner House of Scotland’s Court of Session. To stop Brexit, Article 50 will have to be revoked, and the case hinges on the extent to which the Courts should gainsay the stated policy of the UK government not to revoke. But I think it is a fair statement that things are rather more fluid than usual and it would be irresponsible not to seek clarity on all our potential options.

Mr Green also rightly argues that law is subject to politics. Nothing is more political than Brexit. It was politics that put us where we are now, it’s politics that can get us out of it, and the politicians of the EU say we can stop Brexit whenever we want up to Brexit day.

If nothing changes, the law, such as it is, says we’re out. But things happen in politics and especially now. All that has to happen to trigger the process of stopping Brexit is that Westminster MPs must vote against the withdrawal agreement, or vote to give the people a final say on it. This would probably mean that the Article 50 negotiation period would need to be extended, but there is already contingency planning going on behind the scenes in Brussels for that eventuality. As a colleague tartly put it: “anything could come out of Crazy Island.”

All credible analysis is clear: Brexit has nothing but downside. Leave voters were deceived by charlatans into believing whatever version of Brexit they wanted was what they’d get. Leaving the EU was presented as a cure-all for whatever ails you. Many know that now, and as more detail dawns it’ll become clear to even more. Non-voters in the EU referendum won’t make the same mistake again.

And it is even more important to remember, nothing whatsoever is agreed. There’s a lot of text in a lot of drafts but it is all in the conditional tense. A lot of it also will not pass the European Parliament’s red lines and we will have a right of refusal, just before the European elections when my continental colleagues might find some votes back home in being tough. If it gets that far. At the moment, we can’t even say for sure that there will be an agreement at all. Unless Mrs May faces down her ERG Ultras, caves on the Northern Ireland-Ireland border, and ditches the dead-on-arrival 3 baskets policy, there may well not be one. If there’s no agreement, no remotely responsible Parliament could allow the car crash of a no deal Brexit to happen and I do not see how my Parliament in Brussels could in all conscience allow the UK to crash out without a managed process. Brexit is not just a UK problem.

No version of Brexit has a majority in the House of Commons behind it. The government is just as split. No deal Theresa May brings back to Parliament is going to be popular. No withdrawal agreement will get anywhere near to meeting Labour’s six tests, let alone the long list Hilary Benn’s Brexit Committee has produced. Moderate Tory rebels are sick of being ignored already, they’ll be sick right to their back teeth of it by then.

We have to be realistic about our chances, yes. Most MPs might plod through the lobbies muttering about what a disaster it all is, like so many did for the Article 50 bill. Negotiations might turn up a deal everyone loves. Hey, the unicorns might turn out to be real.

The thing that makes politicians think hardest though, is public opinion, and here I remain positive. In all referendums everywhere, there is a coalescence behind the winning side whatever it was, but not with Brexit. Quite the reverse, it has shifted to Remain, but it needs to shift more, and I believe it will for two reasons. First, people will see what real-world brexit actually means, it is not what was promised. Second, the UK political parties need to do what they should have done before the star-crossed referendum, explain the merits of the status quo and the significance of what might be about to be lost. I’ve a few tips from Scotland I’m happy to share. I’m pro-EU not because I’m some starry eyed europhile, but because I want the best for the people I serve.

Any Brexit will hurt Scotland and the rest of the UK. Least harmful isn’t good enough for me and my country, and it shouldn’t be for you either. We might have to take it if that’s all that’s on offer, but for the moment anything is possible so long as we keep going. Maybe we’ll fail, but I’m going down fighting, and the very day after Brexit day, if it happens, will start the campaign for Scotland, and the UK if it comes to it, to rejoin.

Comments (56)

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  1. Melanie says:

    As a non-scot (but a regular reader of BellaCaladonia) I feel I have to preface any comment on Brexit with a heartfelt apology — not on my own behalf, (I was and am a “Remainer”) but on behalf of all those who were too naive to realise the wilful stupidity of treating the referendum as though it were nothing more than a protest vote against an unpopular government, too stupid to realise that they were being conned, or too willing to throw everyone else under the Brexit bus in the hope that it would carry them to their own particular cloud cuckoo land.

    I still, devoutly hope that we can step back from this folly before it is too late.

    Fortunately (perhaps) the UK is not a true “democracy”: it is — in name, at least — a “representative democracy”, in which our elected representatives are supposed to act in our best interests, even if we do not know what those “best interests” are. In this particular instance, it is clear that we (as a whole) did not. Who could? How many of those who voted did so in the mistaken belief that the EU is is “undemocratic” or that “our laws are made in Brussels”; that the UK pays billions and gets nothing back, or on the strength of any of the other fatuous media scare stories?

    Our elected representatives still have the right and duty to vote against Brexit at every opportunity. The burning question is whether enough of them have the integrity to actually do so, and the intellect to devise ways to prevent future elections from being hi-jacked by the politics of hatred.

  2. Crubag says:

    You are aware that had it been Yes in 2014 we would have been outside the EU anyway? That was the position of President Barroso, backed by the legal teams of the EU, and recently reconfirmed in relation to Catalonia by President Juncker.

    (The same Commission lawyers have also stated that Article 50 cannot be unilaterally revoked).

    That we could countenance that in 2014, and come close to a majority, shows that Yes/No does not neatly intersect with Leave/Remain.

    As the Commission and Council are fond of reminding us, the EU is a rules-based organisation, and there is a clear process for admission, which also includes nation-state vetoes on potential new members. The Scottish Government could do more on meeting accession criteria at the moment, like better statistics, but could also begin the thinking on the harder issues of central bank and currency. There’s short term political pain to be paid for opening the debate, but that might as well start now and be given time to heal.

    1. Alister Rutherford says:

      We would not have been outside the EU. The President of the Commission, however exalted he may be, has no vote on the matter. Scotland met the criteria for membership in 2014, and still does. The EU has never rejected membership for a country that meets the criteria.

      1. Crubag says:

        We don’t meet the criteria, which include having your own currency and central bank, and a track record of competent economic management.

        We would have met the democratic and legal tests, but those are only a few of the chapters.

    2. Graeme Purves says:

      Poppycock! Barroso was a charlatan, and is long gone.

      1. Crubag says:

        ? He was a two-term President, serving both terms, which is the most anyone has done I think, apart from Jaques Delors. It helped he was EPP-aligned (centre-right), the dominant EU party.

        1. Graeme Purves says:

          He was a charlatan, and is long gone.

          1. Crubag says:

            ?? He was elected twice as the President of the European Commission… That means he had the whole-hearted support (or near enough) of the Brussels institutions.

            The only President that has really come unglued was Jaques Santer and his team who were forced to resign over the Edith Cresson affair. Even then, it wasn’t Jaques that was the target, but Edith, but there was no means of individually calling a Commissioner to account.

    3. TheBuchanLoony says:

      What about East Germany Crubag? They were ‘in’ within six months!

      1. Crubag says:

        An interesting case, both the Germanys claimed to be the real Germany, and the Federal Republic laid territorial claim to the German Democratic Republic and its citizens (my modern studies teacher taught me always to be suspicious of any country that had “People’s” or “Democratic” in the title, but I’m showing my age).

        As events fell out, the GDR collapsed and the FDR was able to absorb it. In terms of the European Economic Community (as it was in 1990, doesn’t become the European Union till 2007) it didn’t make an immediate difference. There was still only a single state, which already had Commission representation. The European Parliament allocation had eventually to be increased though.

        So not really comparable, as the FDR already met all the then criteria, and absorbed the smaller entity.

        Longer-term, the political impact is more about population. The united Germanies are by far the largest population bloc. Without the GDR, the FDR would have been only a little bigger than France, UK or Italy.

  3. Big Jock says:

    Crubag -We might have temporarily been out, although that could be disputed! However I prefer to deal with what did actually happen , rather than theoretical conclusions that no-one can prove. The difference is it would have been our elected governments choice not another countries population deciding for us. As it happens we overwhelmingly wanted to stay , so the independent Holyrood government would have been acting for it’s people. That would be either keeping us in or getting us back in.

    If a referendum was required to confirm this then that would again have been Scotland’s choice.

  4. Big Jock says:

    Crubag -I meant to add. It’s very important not to state your theoretical opinion as fact. It’s like saying the 1967 Celtic team would beat the current Celtic team. It can never be proven either way.

    You don’t know the outcome of past that never materialised.

    1. Crubag says:

      Big Jock – agreed, it would have been a Scottish decision to apply. Alyn Smith has himself said that membership wouldn’t have been an automatic process, I think.

      In fact, from the Scotsman: “The biggest lesson, other than the position of currency, is that we didn’t prepare the EU membership case properly. We boxed ourselves into a position where we used word like ‘automatic’ over a process that is anything but automatic.”

      Which is why I find it hard to square that position with the view expressed in the article, where the UK as a whole exiting the EU is seen as a major set-back. Is that because an iScotland is less likely to join the EU if the rUK is outside the EU? Does that matter that much?

      1. Iain McIntosh says:

        The independence movement in 2014 went out of their way to provide those living in Scotland with sufficient information based on reasonable scenarios to enable people to exercise informed opinion at the ballot box.

        better together gave people nothing.

        The independence movement jumped through hoops and was subject to indepth analysis from the full force of the britiosh state, media, press and others.

        better together were subject to no such examination, they supplied sentimental slogans and smears, even when caught blatantly lying or breaking purda rules.

        brexiters learned lessons from better together, they merely lied and proivded slogans and indulged in dog whistle politics.

        Lesson learned for (2020?) me is not to try and play the british state at its own game by its rules, because it will not play bey the rules.

  5. Norval Smith says:

    UK citizens living in EU countries and who left Britain more than 15 years ago were not allowed to vote in the EU referendum. Although it is clear that those who fall into this category have in some cases a lot to lose from a sudden change of status.

    The government had announced plans to abolish the 15-year rule, so that all UK citizens living in Europe would be able to vote at general elections (in their last constituencies). At the time of the previous referendum it was claimed that there was no time to organize a change to the rules. I suspect that the government didn’t want the Remain votes of this group, but who knows.

    What worries me is that in the unlikely event of a second referendum, there will again be no time to organize a change to the rules.

    As it is, we are in the odd predicament of being permanently disenfranchised as EU citizens, all other EU countries except Ireland, I believe, allow their citizens to vote in their national elections. We have no vote in any national parliament at all. Even the Gibraltarians could suddenly vote in the last referendum, although as far as I know Gibraltar is not represented in the House of Commons.

    1. SleepingDog says:

      @Norval Smith, yes, what exactly can the non-self-governing peoples of the British Empire:
      who are also European Union associates:
      do in this case? Presumably not express their democratic wishes on the issue.

  6. w.b.robertson says:

    Mr Smith, understandably, might just be a trifle biased. But since it is taxpayers` money involved, can he tell us just how much an MEP, facing redundancy, stands to collect in his EC pay off package?

    1. Redgauntlet says:

      A typical penny-pinching comment from the money obsessed W.B Robertson…

      One of the few times in all my years in Spain when Scotland was front page news was when Alyn Smith stood up in the European Parliament and asked his fellow MEP’s “not to forget Scotland” in the wake of the Brexit Vote… that intervention went viral, it went right around the world, and shined a light on Scotland’s distinctive political voice…

      I wonder where the likes of Alyn are going to do that once WB Robertson and Crubag have cast us out of the heart of European democracy and into the bleak wilderness of “global Britain”

      Anybody who believes in Scottish sovereignty should oppose Brexit. We voted against it. Massively. End of story….

    2. Dave M says:

      I think he would prefer to be doing his job than engaging in such pointless whataboutery…

  7. Redgauntlet says:

    I agree 100% with Norval Smith….

    Those of us who opted to live in Europe have suffered a systematic violation of our democratic rights.

    We don’t get to vote at elections in the UK.

    We don’t get to vote at the general elections of our second, adopted country, either.

    We pay our taxes- sometimes in two countries – and yet we are deprived of a voice.

    And nor did we get to vote on Brexit, when we are the people most affected by it…

    It is extremely demoralizing…

    I’m sure I’m not the only Scot in Europe who has suffered something like depression – let’s call it Brexit Blues – because of all of the uncertainty…

    It is totally outrageous….an abuse of power, a violation of the principles of democracy, and ultimately, just another of the dirty tricks employed by the extremist Tory Brexiteers and their naive, gullible and foolish lackeys among SNP supporters, who effectively rigged the franchise….

    To those SNP supporters I would say: people like Hugh MacDiarmid and the intellectuals of the Scottish Renaissance who founded the SNP in the first place, all knew that Scotland was faced with the choice of becoming (staying) European or else falling increasingly under the sway of the Anglo-American Empire…

    Nobody has spelled out the cultural consequences of Brexit, but my guess is that they will be bad to extremely bad for Scottish culture…

    …Scotland is culturally on its way to becoming the northern fringe of the 51st State of the USA, instead of an independent State in Europe…

    1. AngusM says:

      Finding this outpouring of hate towards the SNP from independence supporters very strange indeed. We really have lost the plot. Are people looking at the mess British Labour are in and thinking “hey that looks like a lot of fun, let’s have some of that in the Yes Movement”?

      I’ve got this theory that because we all grow up in a culture that is quite anti SNP, eventually even yes voters can succumb to it just to fit in.

    2. Clive Scott says:

      If you have voted with your feet to live in another country it is a bit of a cheek to expect a right to vote in the country you have abandoned. I could just about accept a grace period of say 5 years but certainly no more. If you want to be part of Scotland’s future you need to do the hard yards of nation building and make your life in the country.

      1. Redgauntlet says:

        Angus M: You write of “an outpouring of hate towards the SNP”. Maybe you are on the wrong thread? I can see no outpouring of hate on this thread at all.

        The SNP’s position at the Brexit referendum was to vote Remain. That was my position too.

        The SNP position now is that, if Brexit is to go ahead, then we should stay in the Single Market and the Customs Union. That is also my position.

        Clive Scott, people who choose to live in another European country should not be denied a vote. I would favour a five year term too, so that after five years abroad, you don’t get a vote in UK elections, but that after five years residency in France or Spain or Germany you automatically get a vote at their national elections.

        What is unacceptable is that there millions of Europeans who never get to vote at a General Election, while paying their taxes. It’s wrong. And as we are a disenfranchised community, nobody stands up for us in any Parliament, anywhere. Maybe Alyn Smith could take up our cause?

        As for your ridiculous notion of “Scotland’s future”, presumably Robert Louis Stevenson, who lived most of his life outside of Scotland, forms no part in it? Or Kenneth White? Or Alexander Trocchi?

        Scots who have lived abroad have contributed hugely to Scottish life, past, present and future… and your definition of “nation building” sounds like something out of a handbook of 20th Nationalism…

        1. There is no outpouring of hatred to the SNP – it’s an invention

    3. Ian Dolan says:

      I am a Scot living in Germany & I get a vote in all the local & general elections in Germany!!
      No European citizen is refused a vote when they live in another European country no matter where they origionaly come from.You pay taxes you get a vote.

      1. Redgauntlet says:

        Hi Ian Dolan.

        Lucky you.

        Not so in Spain, I’m afraid. I get to vote at local elections, but not at regional or national elections. For that, I have to become Spanish, which I have no desire to do.

        Likewise, with Brexit, if I apply for Spanish nationality, I have to rescind my British passport, there being no provision for dual nationality between Britain and Spain…

        1. Jeff says:

          Redgauntlet, can you explain what you mean in this passage then?
          “…just another of the dirty tricks employed by the extremist Tory Brexiteers and their naive, gullible and foolish lackeys among SNP supporters, who effectively rigged the franchise….”
          I think this is what the commentators are referring to when they accuse you of anti SNP feelings?
          You then go on to agree with SNP positioning on Brexit?

          1. Redgauntlet says:

            I have to spell out for you, Jeff, the distinction between the SNP and (some) SNP supporters? You can’t manage that by yourself?

  8. Richard Easson says:

    Any member of the European Union can veto any proposals reached but in the other
    Union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland no members have a veto. Strange democracy from the mother of Parliaments.

    1. Crubag says:

      If you mean vetoing an application to become a new member state, then yes. It’s why Spain is such a swing voter for Scotland, as they were likely to want to prevent an easy in for an iScotland to discourage Catalonia. Though other countries like Italy or France have similar concerns. Post- Brexit it’s less important as the country has alteady had to go through a period on the outside.

      If you mean day to day business, then not neccesarily. To keep business moving there has been the adoption of Qualified Majority Voting – 55% of member states or 65% of population – which covers about 80% of votes. The days of single, small countries having a veto in every circumstance have passed.

      Apologies if I’m preaching to the choir.

      1. lawrenceab says:

        This is true (QMV) and increasingly will be, but that still would put Scotland in a stronger position relative to its position in WM where Scottish MPs can be totally disregarded. In the EU QMV system, every country’s vote has value. Other countries will negotiate, strike compromises etc., to win that country’s support. You are an essential part of a living ongoing parley. Not to mention you get to preside over the whole EU machinery for six month every so many years, when you can set the bloc’s policy priorities. Try that in WM!

        To take a wee example (not so wee for those whose livelihoods are at risk), fisheries means very little to WM, maybe 0.5% of the UK economy. WM can and does trade away fishing rights for, say, advantages to the City of London. For an independent Scotland, fisheries will be a much larger % of the economy and Scotland would bargain far more effectively in its fishermen’s interests.

        1. Crubag says:

          That is a fair point about the rotating chair of the Council. A chance for profile at least.

          As to horse-trading, that is the lifblood of Brussels. If you think professional lobbying is too influential in Holyrood or Westminster, then it is much worse in Brussels. But it’s also quite equal opportunities (if you have money) and many non-EU businesses are active in shaping legislation, such as the US tech giants.

          I’d have to disagree about fisheries. It’s one of the very few exclusive EU competences. Hence, in part, Norway and Iceland staying out of membership.

        2. Jamsie says:

          Would Scotland really represent fishermen?
          I think not and they don’t either.
          The SNP would sign away all their livelihoods yo the CFP without even thinking about it.
          The communities see through the hypocrisy and lies and vote accordingly.
          Hence no SNP seat around the coast is safe.

          1. JB says:

            The Scottish fishing industry is being fairly hypocritical itself about the EU,fisheries policies etc. Many myths, distortions and simplifications have been woven into the supposed facts over the years.

            At the time of our entry into Europe they were largely concerned with distant fisheries around Iceland and the like. The close inshore fishing was of less interest. Also, foreign boats had for many years had access to nearby waters within the new 200 mile limit.

            The quotas agreed on entry for some of the more popular fish species in UK markets were felt by many to be notably generous in favour of Scottish fishing at the time.

            When the reduction in fishing quotas to allow some recovery from heavy over-fishing was put in place it was our (then Tory) government which tied quota to boat sales (The only EU country to do so). It also refused to take up the scrappage scheme which other EU countries operated.

            Fishermen have aye been apt to tell tall tales, though not necessarily to believe them. They need to look more carefully at what their fathers and grandfathers did, forced or abetted by our UK government, before accusing the EU. The glib lies of Messrs Gove, Farage, Johnson et al should be examined most carefully, as should the distortions touted by some of the industry’s new ‘best friends’ – the temporary cabal of Tory MPs in Scotland.

            Fishing is a hard and dangerous enough business without glibly accepting distortions and untruths from ambitious politicians- that can cost everyone dearly.

          2. Jamsie says:

            I am not sure what your point is.
            The past is now irrelevant and gone.
            Today and tomorrow are what are uppermost in the minds of the fishing community.
            Just as you mention politicians meddling in the industry in the past is failed and to repeat the same error would also undoubted fail.
            But if anyone is going to meddle the people affected would prefer it was not the EU.
            Do you understand this?
            The SNP have lost the fishing community and will suffer further at the polls for this shortly.
            Look to some big names losing on the list vote.

    2. John S Warren says:

      In reply to JB.

      I wonder if your interesting comments on fishing were influenced by Graeme Goodall’s article, ‘On Scottish fishing’ (3rd April) in Bella Caledonia, which provides fresh insight into the nature of the fishing industry and its travails? If so, to further understand the real nature of the underlying issues, may I suggest reading John Lichfield’s telling article ‘UKIP is wrong: British fishing answers to Westminster not Brussels’ (6th April, Guardian). Lichfield was a correspondent for ‘Fishing News’ in Brussels and understands the economics, the politics and the nature of the UK and EU fishing industry. Nothing is quite what it seems, if you read only the Brexiteer protests. I shall refer here to (and quote from) three of the important issues Lichfield raises:

      1) “If the numbers of fishermen in the UK have fallen sharply since 1973, it is partly the fault of the cod wars”. [Incidentally, these were won by Iceland and Britain had to adapt.] “It is also the result of the sale and concentration of quotas into fewer and fewer hands – something that successive British governments have permitted or encouraged.Thus lucrative Scottish white fish quotas are now dominated by three or four multimillion-pound companies based in north-east Scotland. Worse, 50% of all English quotas and 88% of Welsh quotas are ‘owned’ by British-flagged ships that are really Spanish or Dutch or Icelandic. One Dutch mega-trawler has the right to catch 24% of the total English quota.” According to Lichfield these narrow interests are doing very well.

      2) “The common fisheries policy since 1983 is often reckoned to have been a failure. Stocks of some species, especially cod and haddock, fell to dangerous levels in the late 1990s – largely because EU governments, egged on by successive British governments, awarded catches up to 30% beyond what scientists said was sustainable.” The EU scientific restrictions then introduced have now corrected the threatened stocks, which are now thriving.

      3) About “6o% of the tonnage of quotas within the ‘British’ 200-mile limit went to non-British boats. But two points must be remembered. The ‘foreign’ boats had fished there for decades, sometimes for centuries. A large part of the “tonnage” of the foreign-caught fish consisted, then and now, of species we do not much like to eat (herring or hake, for instance) or species caught for milling into animal feed”. It should be noted that national quotas are allocated by national governments, not the EU.

      I suggest that anyone who really wishes to understand this issue reads both Goodall and Lichfield, as a solid introduction to understanding.

  9. Wul says:

    “Democracy matters, and something has to be delivered or the grievance that the ideologically pure, untainted, Brexit was somehow stolen will put rocket boosters on the next iteration of UKIP that will by then feel free to morph into something more like Britain First.”

    And that’s my role as a Scottish citizen…to help save the Tory party from its more rabidly xenophobic followers. ‘Kin great int it?

  10. Jamsie says:

    “All credible analyses are clear”……er naw!
    Because the analysts who proffer opinions and that is all that they are does not mean they are correct.
    There are equally credible people in the economic world who say Brexit will be good for the UK.
    Personally I never understood the need to pay into an organisation which totally fails to account properly for public money.
    It is a disgraceful position that the accounts do not stand up to scrutiny and the writers self interest destroys any vestige of credibility in his stated view.
    And why politicians feel the need to pay £9bn which is simply a cost to the taxpayer to enable us to trade really does not stack up.
    How much needs to be sold to even get near recouping this?
    All we are doing is subsidising other economies and creating trading situations which multinational companies who avoid paying tax in the UK benefit from.
    This can’t be right.
    The UK is leaving, Scotland will leave as part of this.
    Do you really think that we will not trade with Europe and they won’t trade with us after this happens?
    Germany is sh…..g bricks at the thought of losing the UK market and having to up its contribution to make up for the UK leaving!

    1. Iain McIntosh says:

      “Germany is sh…..g bricks at the thought of losing the UK market ”

      No its not, you are living in wee fantasy land of your own!

      brexit does not feature on German papers or TV news.

      Germany and the others have stated time and time again that the deal the uk has now will not be the deal post brexit, the uk will be worse of. Are you listening? The furture integrity of the EU depends on this being the case!

      For them it is not economics, it’s political, they are placing EU unity above that of trade with uk, rightly so!

      Would anyone with a brain expect them to do anything else?

      If for example brexit had not happened and the Dutch had voted to leave EU. Do you think the uk would be placing trade with the Dutch over trade and friendship with the 27? The 27 including the uk pooling and sharing EU funding through their membership fees which the Dutch would not be paying, but the Dutch would be hoping to maintain the benefits of membership.

      I aint going to happen, the uk is isolated and Europeans view of the uk will only go further down hill as uk is seen as a competitor. An example will be made of uk and the uk has no form of appeal. It is not in the EU’s interst for an Island off its west coast to become a success post leaving EU. EU control the rules in its sphere of influence.

      The only good thing that will come from brexit is Scottish independence!

      1. Jamsie says:


        “For German companies, duty and quota free trade is the minimum requirement, ideally in the framework of a customs union,” said Lang. If the negotiations lead to a free trade agreement, the task force believes it should be based on three tenets: The agreement must rule out duties and quotas without exception, clearly regulate subsidies and provide for regulatory cooperation.

        The BDI are saying this.
        Why do you think that is?
        Merkel is trying to proffer the rhetoric that the EU comes first and Germany stands solidly with rEU however just in the car industry conservative estimates are that they will sell 255000 less cars into the UK if a no deal Brexit is delivered.
        In the car manufacturing industry alone this would lead to circa 20000 job losses and in the supply industries approaching another 50000.
        The shortfall caused by Britain leaving has already been estimated at 13bn Euros a year and the proposal on the table is for others to step up to make this good.
        Germany also loses it’s rebate on rebate as soon as Britain leaves.
        So the likely cost to Germany just in contributions is estimated at approaching 10bn Euros a year with the balance being made up by the remaining countries.
        If there is a hard Brexit German business leaders have a identified potential drop in trade approaching 35bn Euros.
        Let me tell you the Germans are not stupid nor philanthropic and any politician facing this kind of situation just to be seen to stand solidly with their fellow Europeans will be gone very quickly.
        More so than in America the phrase “it’s the economy stupid” applies and any notion that their outlook is political and only that is absolutely absurd.
        And on your final point independence will not arrive via Brexit.
        Independence is beyond wee Nicola’s grasp.
        Because Scotland does not want it!

        1. John S Warren says:

          EU (incl.UK) exports of goods, 2016 €1,745bn. UK exports of goods, 2016 €174bn. EU (incl.UK) exports of services, 2016 €820bn. UK exports of services, 2016 €183bn (Source: EU Commission, DG Trade Statistical Guide, 2017). In terms of GDP, typically represented in theoretical (parity establishing Purchasing Power Standard) currency, the EU GDP, 2016: circa 14,800Bn (PPS); the UK GDP, 2016: circa 2,000Bn (PPS) – the UK is therefore around 11% of EU GDP (only slightly more than Scotland’s economic significance in the UK).

          In terms of UK-EU trade, the EU accounts for 43% of total UK exports in goods alone (cannot easily establish a figure to add for services, but several %age points); on the other hand, the UK accounts for circa 8% – 18% of EU (excl. UK) exports in goods and services combined, depending on complex assumptions (source: Full Fact, November 2017 – there are complexities in extracting intra-EU trade in goods and services): – therefore, the UK is not nearly as significant to the EU, as the EU to the UK on any rational assessment; that is just an incontrovertible fact.

          At the same time, the politics of the whole EU project make it impossible for the EU to accommodate the UK in a ‘no loss’ (to the UK) in any trade deal. That is just another incontrovertible fact. The rest of your argument is merely windy rhetoric and blind ideology. There is really nothing more to be said.

          1. Jamsie says:

            As usual you tend towards a complete failure comprehension and also as usual your objectivity is clouded by your over inflated opinion of your contribution to any debate.
            In short being egotistical and a blowhard who tries to obfuscate rather than discuss destroys people’s short attention span to your “contributions” for what they are worth.
            Nevertheless I think you portray your “facts” in a very strange way.
            Why don’t you just acknowledge the fact that the EU has a trade surplus with the UK approaching £66bn.
            Why don’t you just acknowledge that the EU countries stand to lose more trade with the UK than the UK stands to lose leaving.
            That assumes of course you take the narrow minded view that all trade will stop after Brexit.
            Of course it won’t.
            Gute Nacht

          2. Jamsie says:

            And if you properly calculate the UK GDP against the EU GDP the figure is 13.5% not the 11% you quote.
            In terms of population that suggest we punch above our weight.
            Now have a look at Scotland under the SNP against the UK.

        2. John S Warren says:

          I have no interest in your ‘argumentum ad hominem’; why would I? It speaks for itself. Hysteria and hyperbole just does not cut it as argument. Nor does the rather crude reference to “Germany is sh…..g bricks at the thought of losing the UK market and having to up its contribution to make up for the UK leaving!”(Why on earth does Bella Caledonia have to be assailed by this juvenalia, by commenters who seem incapable of rising above vulgarity?); and for the avoidance of doubt Germany is not in the state of anguish you clearly hope, or wish but that does not actually prevail.

          Brexit is not good news; but principally the worst news is coming to Britain first, and most of all. Another ill judged assertion is: “There are equally credible people in the economic world who say Brexit will be good for the UK”; there may be, of course with typical vacuity, you do not bother to cite them. But you never do cite any usable source, save your own vanity. Assertion is your stock-in-trade. I am amazed that you think this kind of procedure carries any weight with anyone not already hopeless prejudiced toward your views; it will persuade nobody who rationally assesses tha worth of your case.

          I might quibble about the estimate of 13.5% of EU GDP, but why bother? You have just made my point through your eagerness to score a point. There is a mismatch between the economies of the UK and EU, and it is quite obvious to anyone who is not a dogmatist or a foolish Romantic. If you are right about “its the economy stupid”; then on the counts of both the “economy” and the “stupidity”you are totally wrong; they apply precisely to your own case.

          Please waffle on with your usual spluttering outrage. I leave it with you; for it is too tedious for me to read any more of it.

          1. Jamsie says:

            Dearie me.
            You sound like a boy who was breast fed until he was ten and whose mummy told him he was always right.
            Quibble away.
            Your own figures which you must have spent hours googling and wiki ing show by simple arithmetic that the ratio in percentage is 13.5.
            In your supercilious pomposity you challenge that?
            The facts as you like to be referenced are that Germany and the UK are the only two net contributors of any consequence to the EU.
            It is that surplus that funds the extravagant expense accounts and lunches for the unelected officios who are currently negotiating the settlement.
            When the UK leaves the damage to the EU will result in a huge contraction in the size of the burocrisy which is well overdue.
            And if it is a hard Brexit will cost the EU and in particular Germany more than it will cost the UK.
            That is a simple fact which you don’t even need to google.
            I know you like them.
            National self interest is on the rise throughout Europe and this could be the tipping point which accelerates the trend.

        3. Iain McIntosh says:

          uk is a bit player without any clout! Folk like you have not come to terms with this and are still living in the 19th century. Empire is gone, India and China are focused on US and EU.

          I accept Scotland is a country with a relatively small population, I’d like it to behave like Denmark, Ireland, Norway, Finland, Holland, Sweden, New Zealand and Australia.

          England lost an empire and has not found a role, except that of continued colonisation of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

          If we analyse last night’s nonesense, England feels it’s role in the world is to particiapte in attacking countries embroiled in civil war to divert attention from Donald Trump’s extra marital affairs! How gloriuous, what a noble postion to have in the world!

          uk was the sick man of Europe in 1973, membership of the EU and the fact uk is English speaking, saw this poor man image shed as foreign investment poured in and the family silver was sold off. Now there is no family silver, the cupboard is empty.

          Now we have no EU, no foreign investment and no reserves.

          EU will skew trade in its favour from now with uk. Every time the EU have a summit, on the agenda will be a sub agenda of any changes EU makes, EU will make sure uk does not benefit.

          We have had 10 years of austerity, in uk we have 20 more to come, in 5 years time Iknow what unions Scotland will be in and it won’t be yours!

          1. Jamsie says:

            You just don’t get it do you?
            Trade with the EU is already skewed.
            We pay in far more than we get out just to be a member and on top of that we buy £66bn more from them than they do from us.
            The money we pay in from the taxpayer benefits huge corporations of neo liberal capitalists who avoid paying tax in the UK preferring to pay much less in places like Luxembourg.
            Where is Juncker from?
            When we leave we can reverse this and have taxes paid here on earnings gained here.
            The money we no longer pay out will benefit citizens here rather than in Romania or some other area which lives beyond its means.

  11. Iain McIntosh says:

    Two points Alyn:

    1. “First a confession: my position is clearer than most. Scotland voted quite clearly and unanimously across all regions to remain, and that is my instruction. I also accept the current constitutional reality that Scotland is part of the UK and 52 is a bigger number than 48.”

    This means you do not believe that the Scottish people are sovereign over our own future!

    2. “Any Brexit will hurt Scotland and the rest of the UK.”

    You know its going to hurst Scots, but you are willing to go along with it!

    I am confused Alyn, why are our leaders not putting their freedom on the line to gain the freedom for Scotland like Clara Ponsati and Carles Puigdemont are for Catalonia.

    SNP’s reaction to brexit intially was superb, since then its been down hill all the way as the impetus was handed to the extreme right and they have called the tune.

    We need to wrestle back the initiative now, pussy footing or playing by british rules will doom us to being an isolated region of an isolated England!

  12. w.b.robertson says:

    Of course the Brexit deal still will enable German produced cars to sell in the UK, as before. Ignore all the shadow boxing and sand dancing in Barnier/Davis so called “Negotiations”…follow the money!

    1. Jamsie says:

      Absolutely correct W.B. they need a deal as much if not more than we do given the trade surplus Germany and the rEU have with the UK.
      A hard brexit is potentially as damaging to their industries as it is to ours but the politicians continue with the phoney war of negotiation.
      Perhaps a hard brexit would affect them more so as we are a premium market where they do not have to discount their products to take account of differing living standards and costs of living.

  13. John Burrows says:

    We have all been witness to the bumbling ineptitude of May/Corbyn and their merry band of brexiters for the past two years. Another three to go.

    And still we have idiots spouting the same tiresome nonsense that Europe need us more than we need them. It would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic. Only shock treatment will rid these fools of their insane delusions.

    Unfortunately, the EU agreed to May’s desperate plea for a transition. God knows why. Perhaps they felt the UK would come to its senses over a longer timeline than that afforded by Article 50.
    It is a forlorn hope. It just postpones the desperately needed treatment that is required for the patient.

    There is no hope for this nation. The London casino has bankrupted the country. The asset strippers are lining up to despoil what remains. Rothermere/Dacre, Murdoch and the Barcley brothers have succeeded in corrupting its moral centre. The BBC, once a great institution, has been reduced to a mouthpiece for fanatics. The tyranny of the majority has replaced our representative democracy.

    Only independence can save Scotland from the wreckage that awaits the UK.

    1. Jamsie says:

      Perhaps you might open your mind and consider that the reason the EU accepted the transition was not out of consideration for the UK position ( after all their stance is political not economic – aye right! ) but out of self interest as it gives them some time to try to salvage something for their business interests.
      These business interests are becoming more and more outspoken and there have been suggestions that the EU needs to come forward with a compromise position on migration and borders as in people arriving in the UK from the EU not being entitled to benefits amongst other things.
      Despite the rhetoric business organisations in Europe are preparing for the effect of Brexit and their forecasts are not good for the effect it will have on them whereas politicians are stuck in the rut of being dictated to by self interested political pygmies who have no concept of the commercial world only of subsidy on subsidy, massive expense accounts from the public purse and a complete lack of traceability on the veracity of spend.
      If the political chattering classes actually engaged with the real world perhaps there would be some way forward whereby both the UK and Europe could stave of the effects to businesses and ordinary people but the actuality is that the EU politicians and most notably Merkel are trying to hold a line which is not in their control.
      The European model is dying and the dinosaurs with it.
      National self interest is on the rise.
      Countries like Greece, Ireland and Italy will be left to flounder in their economic squalor while the others look to placate the home electorates and keep themselves in power.
      And given the Ireland debt situation when we leave we should recall the loans or at least renegotiate them while going forward let their EU “friends” support them.
      We all know what happened last time when Ireland was desperate and who stepped up to help!
      Independence is not happening, the UK is leaving the EU, Scotland remains part of the UK and will also leave.
      The so called wreckage which you refer to is an opinion which I grant is shared by many but there are just as many who hold he opinion that leaving will be good for the UK.
      I don’t personally know how it will go, no one does, but having considered the upside and the downside of the UK in terms of the headline issues I favour being out.
      But I will leave you with one point to consider – EU and other European politicians are suggesting that Article 50 need not go ahead and that the EU should make a special arrangement to enable the UK to continue duty and tariff free trade arrangements on the back of the business leaders stated positions – this should be possible and indeed the UK would seem to favour this so why do the EU negotiators not?
      The time for political dogma is passing fast and some pragmatism needs to be delivered if the EU is to deliver a brexit for business as their commercial experts demand and need.

      1. John Burrows says:

        If I had a pound for the number of times times I have had to listen to this paranoid conspiracy theory in the past two years, I’d be a rich man.

        The EU is an evil empire. The EU is a dinosaur. The EU is run by a bloated and corrupt bureaucracy. You talk of reality, yet quote the rubbish pumped out for the last twenty years by the Telegraph, the Daily Mail and all the other denizens of the street of shame. You powerfully demonstrate my point. QED.

        Not content with regurgitating the witherings of the ERG and Legatum, you can’t help yourself. You blame the EU for your own choices. You are just another soldier of the cake and eat it brigade. It is beyond absurd.

        Throughout all that has transpired it is you yourself that ignores reality – that this nation, of which you are a citizen, is now entirely in the hands of a truly archaic ruling class. Yeah, even unto the middle ages. Inbred morons who are hell bent on ensuring the rule of this realm never leaves their incapable hands. You are actively engaged in advocating the rule of these despots, crony capitalists and sociopaths. God forgive you. I reiterate, you are in desperate need of shock therapy.

        Scotland’s independence will be a necessary part of your treatment.

        1. Jamsie says:

          Current polls show 43% Yes 57% No.
          They also show 65% don’t want another referendum.
          How is that going to be achieved?
          It’s the economy stupid.
          Think about it!

  14. w.b.robertson says:

    Glad that Jamsie contributes some hard reality into the Brexit debate. The EC is not about people (although the Brussels brigade are feather bedded!). Or promoting the brotherhood of man. Or any other fine high faluting moral principle…It is about big business. We live in a capitalist society. As long as that situation prevails, if you want to figure out anything, or predict an outcome. …follow the money.

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