As 29 March 2019 grows ever-closer, and the UK’s exit from the EU looms like a dark cloud over British politics, it seems politicians have gone pretty silent on the issue. Ignorance may be bliss at this stage as figures released by the UK’s Treasury chief Philip Hammond suggest that the country’s growth is to slow at a rate of 2.4 percent in 2018, 1.9 percent in 2019, and 1.6 percent in 2020. But remaining in the dark about our Europe-less future, as a result of Brexit, can only provide comfort for so long.
With inevitable economic decline and a much more restrictive policy towards freedom of movement in order, Brexit is the seminal event in the last 50 years of UK history – the least we can do is talk about our worries and our doubts in a new era of governance, and most importantly these dialogues should provide representation for all nations of Great Britain.
Interests are diverse across the UK for various reasons – be that social, economic or geographical. The dilemma in the UK is that England has by far the biggest population at nearly 55 million compared to the other three nations; Scotland as the second largest has a population of just over 5 million. This means that Brexit is likely to be largely England-oriented, even though Scotland is potentially our best hope for a softer blow to EU withdrawal. Scotland’s position is unique – a country that voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU, 68% of its voters to be exact, but must still take on the burden of English and Welsh voters which secured the upcoming EU exit. Despite being a devolved state with more power than ever before thanks to the Scotland Act of 2016, I imagine that Scotland’s voice will be nothing more than a whisper in Parliament though its voice deserves to be heard more than ever in upcoming negotiations.
After my recent experience as an intern for the Office of the Secretary of State for Scotland, my opinion about the nature of Brexit changed as I observed it from the angle of Scots. Before this opportunity, I wasn’t thinking about the implications of the UK being a multi-national state. I soon came to recognise the agency of Scotland as the EU Withdrawal Bill is being drawn up in order to repeal the 1972 European Communities Act which gave European law precedence over UK law. Scotland has personalised interests that differ from those of the UK, for example it was stressed during my time in the office that agriculture and fisheries were of utmost importance to Scotland. These areas are of constant worry to officials who want to secure these industries and protect them from the impending hardship that comes with having to negotiate new trade deals outside of the European economic bloc.
Ultimately, policy needs to be diverse and understanding of specific national interests – if our representative in parliament fail to produce this, the union will be weakened once more and I would not be surprised if we see another Scottish Independence referendum in the next decade.