Great Britain is in Great Peril

This article appeared in the print edition of the Evening Telegraph: 02/09/2019 [Online], Available:  [Accessed: 2019, Sep 03]

UK disintegration

“Polls in Scotland, for the first time since the week before the Scottish referendum in 2014, are showing a majority support for independence.”

The tectonic plates of the political landscape are shifting. Over the last month, wave over tide of adversity has conspired together to pull support for the union below 50%. The announcement of Boris Johnson’s premiership, increasing likelihood of a no deal Brexit, prorogation of Parliament and subsequent resignation of the most ardent defender of the union in Scotland, Ruth Davidson, has accelerated support for independence. Polls in Scotland, for the first time since the week before the Scottish referendum in 2014, are showing a majority support for independence. Supporters of true independence – out of the EU and out of the UK – have cause for optimism.

However, I wrote recently that the path to independence is paved with potholes. The current trajectory appears as more of a reaction to the governance of Westminster rather than support for Holyrood and what stands in the way is the absence of a Section 30 order to carry out a constitutionally legitimate referendum. The case for independence has also changed given that the new case would include readmission to the EU and that issue has the potential to derail the juggernaut. Furthermore, the economic case was dealt a blow last week given Scotland’s shambolic share of GDP figures and the currency issue has yet to be resolved in a manner that reassures.

Scotland’s readmission to the EU would require the support of the 27 other member states which would invite a potential veto from Spain or Belgium keen to quell, rather than swell, support for the growing independence movements in Catalonia and Flanders. Although Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell has indicated he may support Scotland’s accession, it is not clear if Belgium would resist. Additionally, EU readmission would also require support from the electorate in Scotland, who may be less enticed to vote as supportively as they did in 2016 if an inevitably poorer deal were on the table. This could mean a Scottish referendum on Europe.

While there would be fringe benefits for Scotland from immediate increased trading potential, the welding together of the Scottish economy with the macro-economic goliath of the Eurozone would crucify any hope of economic resilience. This is not only because of the contributions Scotland would be expected to pay as a member state but more fortuitously as a result of the terminal economic decline of European’s largest remaining contributors manifested by stagnation in France, deceleration in Germany and recession in Italy. And would we be expected to accept the significantly weaker and more turbulent currency of the Euro?

Finally, the decision to prorogue Parliament this week may appear like an extreme measure but the only people complaining about it being anti-democratic appear to be the anti-democrats who want to dispense with the vote to leave the European Union.