It’s only lunchtime and I’m still trying to catch up with the events of this morning. The gods alone know what will have happened by teatime. The only thing that I’m sure of is that it’s looking increasingly likely that the UK’s tea is oot.
There was a fun morning in the European Parliament. For once Sky News and the BBC actually showed the debate going on there. If they had done that before on a regular basis it’s just possible that we might not be in the situation we are at the moment. But really they were only transmitting the show in order to broadcast Nigel Farage’s grandstanding.
First up we got to see Guy Verhofstadt, former Belgian PM and currently the president of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe in the European Parliament, pointedly congratulating Boris Johnson on becoming the Prime Minister of the dual kingdom of England and Wales. It was a sign that things in Europe are not necessarily going to develop to Nigel’s advantage, but that they very well might develop to Scotland’s.
Nigel, as you might expect, gave a speech in which he proceeded to insult the rest of the European Parliament, displaying that peculiarly British nationalist arrogance which holds that normal rules don’t apply to the United Kingdom, or rather, to England, because it’s a special snowflake. Nigel is the English football team in political form, the same arrogance, the same sense of entitlement, the same sourness when things don’t go his way, and the same deep rooted belief that everyone else ought to make allowances for him. Poor Nigel, he still thinks that Britannia rules the waves even though it lost to the crew of an Icelandic fishing trawler.
After serially abusing the entire European Parliament, Nigel then demanded that the UK gets a special deal from the EU to allow it to get all the bits out of Europe that it wants to keep but to reject the bits it doesn’t want. Nigel is one of those who thinks that British citizens should have freedom of movement in Europe, but EU citizens shouldn’t have freedom of movement in the UK. His speech was received with boos and heckles.
Next up was SNP MEP Alyn Smith, who was accidentally broadcast by a BBC which thought it was broadcasting yet more racist sub-Dad’s Army ranting from Nigel. Alyn made an impassioned speech, reminding the EU Parliament that Scotland had voted by a large majority to remain a part of the EU. Scotland has not let you down, he said, and pleaded with the Parliament, do not let Scotland down now. There was a standing ovation from MEPs from across the continent and across the political spectrum. The contrast with Nigel was very clear. Scotland has friends and allies in Europe. We’re not alone, we are going to receive a very sympathetic hearing from the EU, and I get the feeling that the rest of Europe is going to bend over backwards in order to find a way of accommodating Scotland. Meanwhile what’s left of Britain is Nigel gurning like Billy No-Mates on the naughty chair in the corner.
Closer to home, the Labour party is still without a shadow Scotland Secretary. We’re in the middle of the biggest constitutional crisis in Scottish history, and Westminster Labour have nothing to say and no one to say it. That’s dereliction of duty. All Westminster Labour is interested in is the attempt by the Blairites to remove Jeremy Corbyn. It’s very clear where Scotland figures in their concerns – nowhere. If Scotland wants someone to stand up for it, we’re going to have to do it ourselves, because there’s going to be bugger all help from the Parliamentary Labour party.
The Labour party in Scotland are having one of their existential crises. Certain prominent Labour figures have said that they will support a yes vote to independence in a second referendum if that is the only way to ensure that Scotland can continue as a member of the EU. Their support is to be welcomed. However the party leadership is pinning its hopes to a fantasy that in a fully federal UK Scotland will be allowed to remain a part of the EU even though the rest of the country has left it. That’s going to depend on the consent of Westminster, and the consent of Brussels. Neither of those is likely to be forthcoming. Labour has to work through its stages of grief. Currently it’s at stage 3, bargaining. That will be followed by depression, although to be fair it’s always depressing when you have to listen to James Kelly MSP, and will be followed by the acceptance of the inevitable. Independence.
However the Labour party, along with the Lib Dems and the Greens, is supporting the motion put forward by the Scottish Government which will be debated in Holyrood this afternoon. To their credit, and I never thought I’d say this, they’re not letting Scotland down now. The motion calls on the Scottish Government to negotiate with the EU, the British government and anyone and everyone who can help to assure Scotland’s continuing membership of the EU by any means. It makes no mention of independence, it makes no mention of another independence referendum. The fact remains that it’s looking increasingly likely that that’s what it’s going to take if Scotland is to preserve its EU membership. It’s also looking likely that we’ll get the support of the EU to do so. Indyref2 is going to be a very different affair from indyref1.
Ruth Davidson has put forward an amendment to the motion that the Scottish Parliament will be debating this afternoon. Ruth wants to strip out the contents of the entire motion and replace it with one saying that the Scottish Government will respect the Brexit majority in the UK as a whole, will do what Westminster tells it, won’t consult with anyone except the UK Government, and won’t seek another independence referendum even if that’s the only way Scotland can remain in the EU.
So that’s the Tories for you, going full on Loyalist. While Alyn Smith is pleading with the European Parliament not to let Scotland down, and getting the support of what seemed to be a clear majority of MEPs from across Europe, Scotland’s own Tories are letting Scotland down at home. Sure, say the Scottish Tories, we’ll fight Scotland’s corner, but only if Westminster says it’s OK, we blindfold ourselves, tie one hand behind our back, and stand on one leg jumping up and down when Boris tells us to. I wonder if her constituents in Edinburgh realised when they voted for her that when she said she’d be holding the SNP to account what she really meant was that she’d be doing her utmost to ensure that the Tories in Westminster couldn’t be held to account.
Ruth’s motion is going to get flushed. And so, sooner or later, but probably sooner, is the Union. The United Kingdom is broken Ruth, your party broke it. It’s your Tory fault. Scotland is leaving and there is nothing you can do to stop it.
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