Illustration by Hannah Robinson
Election results in Scotland remain in stark contrast to that of England. The 2019 election turned England blue and Scotland yellow, with the Conservatives losing 7 of their 13 Westminster seats in Scotland. This could be seen as a rejection of Brexit; many Scottish voters may have voted for the Scottish National Party on the assumption that SNP MPs would vote for a second referendum or the revocation of Article 50 in the event of a hung parliament. However, this outcome is no longer possible after Boris Johnson secured a massive majority. The SNP are now using these votes to justify another Independence referendum, which they are painting as the “great escape” from Brexit. However, this is a complete fallacy.
If Scotland voted in favour of independence, it would have a period of time to negotiate its withdrawal from the UK; the white paper from September 2014 stated that there would be an 18-month period, had there been a Yes vote in the previous referendum. Although the terms of a future white paper are yet to be defined, it remains unclear as to how long the timeframe would be, and if there would be an option to extend this period. It is likely that SNP hardliners would push for a no deal “scexit”. In this scenario Scotland would be an entirely new country with no international treaties.
Were this to happen, it would mean Scotland would leave the EU with No Deal and revert to trading solely on WTO rules as the West African country Mauritania did up until 2018. Scotland would have to apply to join the EU from scratch. Serbia was the most recent country to apply to join the EU (back in 2009) and it has still not been accepted and talks remain at a negotiation stage. Scotland would also have to meet the various requirements that the EU sets for its member states including a deficit no larger that 3% of national expenditure (Scotland’s deficit is currently 7%). Scotland would also have to develop a new currency so as to ensure its financial stability, therefore lacking the stability or backing ensured by the bank of England, the way Panama uses the US dollar. This also overlooks the fact that Spain may veto Scotland’s entry to avoid legitimising separatist movements in Catalonia. Thus, Scotland could spend many years left out in the cold, having reverted to an economic model similar to that of Mauritania and Panama.
Euroscepticism in Scotland should also not be overlooked. The Brexit Party came second in the EU election in Scotland and elected 1 MEP. 38% of people in Scotland voted to leave the EU and this is without the single currency and Schengen agreement which Scotland would have to adopt, were it to be successful in gaining entry into the EU.
The question for the SNP should be why we would want to stop being an influential part of one of the strongest economies and free trading nations in the world, so to become a small corner of the EU run by an unelected commission, which many feel we share little in common with, and revert to the WTO-rules economic model of a less-developed country in the interim?