It’s neverendum here in Scotland. We have had two referenda in the past five years, one on Scottish independence and the other on Britain’s membership of the European Union. The verdict of the Scottish electorate was to remain part of both unions. The UK-wide vote to leave the EU, however, has created new tensions.
Now we hear talk of another independence referendum. John McDonnell recently said that a Labour government would not attempt to veto a second independence referendum. This came after a poll showed a majority of people in Scotland supported independence. This has also triggered talk of a so-called “progressive alliance” between Labour and the SNP to remove Boris Johnson from power despite howls of opposition from the Scottish Labour leadership. The current UK Labour leadership couldn’t care less about preserving the union if it means gaining power at Westminster.
With the UK set to leave the EU on 31st October, our so-called independence will look very different from what was pitched in 2014. Back then, the SNP said Scotland would remain in the EU, one way or another. Keeping an open border would have minimised the disruption to the Scottish economy. Scots could still have seen their granny in Plymouth without having to pack their passports.
What the SNP failed to mention was that their plans for “independence” were nothing of the kind. They involved remaining subject to EU rules and regulations with even less say on how they are made than at Westminster. The nationalists often complain that Scots are not adequately represented in the UK Parliament. But Scotland has 59 out of 650 MPs at Westminster, with the power to enact legislation in a sovereign parliament, while the most recent group elected to represent Scotland at the 751-seat European Parliament (whose power is limited) consists of six MEPs. The EU will only accept members who agree to join the Euro or the Schengen Zone; with the UK about to leave the EU, the SNP can kiss goodbye to any plans for an independent Scotland to keep the pound sterling or a frictionless Anglo-Scottish border, free of customs or immigration checks. This is project reality, not project fear.
The SNP must come clean. We can no longer remain part of both the EU and the UK, so we must choose. Do we want to be part of a global Britain with a democratic parliament, freshly liberated from the EU, free to make our own trade deals and set our own path in the world once again, in which Scotland is not only well represented in the UK Parliament but also has one of the most powerful devolved assemblies in the world? Or do we want to remain in an undemocratic union, adopt a failing currency that is headed for another major crisis, have our laws dictated to us by an unelected EU Commission, and remain in a parliament where we have less than 1% of the total representation? I know which sounds better to me.