We live in a land where delusion has taken over from policy. Theresa May is going to save the Union. Stop laughing at the back there. She began her first speech as Prime Minister by remarking that not a lot of people know that the full name of her party is the Conservative and Unionist party. And the reason is that while the Tories like to describe themselves as Unionists they don’t behave as though the UK was a Union, they behave as though it was a unitary state. Theresa May wants Scotland to pretend that we didn’t just vote to remain a part of the EU, and swallow our Brexit medicine like obedient little North Britons.
Our new handbagger in chief is coming to Scotland tomorrow to ‘reassure’ Scotland that our place in the Union remains secure. By which she means that Scotland is going to get dragged out of the EU despite the fact that a substantial majority of Scottish voters elected to remain a part of it. That’s not so much a reassurance as it is a threat. Doubtless she’ll try to sweeten the bitter Brexit cereal by promising vague and unspecified extra powers over vitally important things like pigeon ringing and road markings, but Theresa May will not be coming to Scotland to inform us that we will be able to remain in the European Union even though the rest of the UK has voted to leave. That’s not the Union that she’s concerned about. She’s going to come and tell us why, yet again, Scotland needs to swallow its democratic vote and do what the Tory voting parts of the UK tell it.
The fact that one of her very first acts on becoming Prime Minister is to visit Scotland and give us a stern lecture is because while our new Evil Overlord may be many things, she’s not actually stupid. She knows that the outcome of the EU referendum has driven Scotland far closer to the brink of independence than ever before. She faces the prospect of Scotland going into a new independence referendum campaign in which the independence option is leading from the start. Theresa May is the second female prime minister of the UK, she doesn’t want to be the last prime minister of the UK. But that’s what’s likely to happen. The Union she wants to reassure Scotland about has been shattered and traduced, and it’s been shattered and traduced by Theresa May’s Tories.
Britain is a laughing stock around the globe, and the world is laughing because of what’s been done to this country by clueless Tories who arrogantly insult and abuse the rest of the world without having the foggiest notion of how they’re going to proceed with governing the UK. Is this really a place we’re better together with? The broad shoulders of the UK that have no head on them.
If Theresa May believes that she can fly into Scotland, lay down the law, then bugger off back south and we’ll cease all this independence agitation nonsense, she’s as delusional as those Tory commentators who insist that Boris Johnson is perfectly suited as Foreign Secretary and he hasn’t pissed off half the planet at all. Oh no. But then Theresa May was the one who appointed him in the first place, so chances are that she is pretty delusional.
It’s not just the Tories who are delusional. Labour is also quite sure it’s going to save the Union, apparently by pretending that the EU referendum didn’t actually happen. Labour in Scotland wants the rest of the UK to pretend that they didn’t vote to leave the EU so that Scotland can continue to be a member of both Unions. That’s as likely to happen as Scotland suddenly deciding that Boris Johnson really is a great choice for Foreign Minister.
The Lib Dems do accept that there’s been an EU referendum and that the remain cause lost it. So the best way to proceed is for the UK to immediately hold another EU referendum so that the next time we can all get the result that the Lib Dems prefer. Meanwhile Wullie Rennie insists that the outcome of the 2014 independence referendum needs to be respected. The best you can say about this position is that it’s not actually delusional, just hypocritical. But then Lib Dems were never strangers to hypocrisy.
The notion that following a UK wide vote to leave the EU that Scotland would be able to remain a member of both the EU and the UK was always a highly dubious proposition. In order for it to work it would require the active cooperation of both the EU and the UK. It would mean Scotland occupying the UK commissioner’s seat in the EU, and so Scotland would have a voice in how the rest of the UK accessed the single market and could overrule Westminster. The Tories were never going to allow that to happen. The complications and concessions that are required in order for Scotland to maintain its membership of both unions are such that we’d be as well just becoming independent.
Even before Theresa May has come to Scotland to presumably make vague noises about all the lovely devo goodies that lie in store for us if only we reject the evil separatists, her Chancellor has ruled out any possibility of Scotland remaining a part of both Unions. Fluffy Mundell has claimed that the UK government is open to the prospect, but then Fluffy has as much influence in UK policy making as Boris Johnson does on the US State Department.
The truth is that the default assumption is now that the UK can no longer defend or represent Scotland’s interests, and the onus is on those who wish to maintain the UK to prove otherwise. Labour and the Lib Dems are going to have to face up to the hard reality that they cannot get what they want. They cannot have a Scotland that is simultaneously a member of the EU and the UK. Neither the UK government nor the EU wants that. Neither of them are going to cooperate to make it a reality. The UK wants Scotland outside the EU. That’s not what Scotland wants. The time is approaching when the Labour party in Scotland and the Lib Dems need to decide where they stand. They can’t pretend they live in a magic Scotland where they can have it both ways. Either they stand for Scotland to have its own voice in the world, or they swallow the bitter Brexit cereal.
Audio version of this blog, courtesy of @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/having-a-scottish-voice-or-swallowing-the-bitter-brexit-cereal-wee-ginger-dug-14th-july-2016
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