Indyref2 and the EU?

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Since the SNP lost its majority in Scotland (still the largest party of course) on the back of a  manifesto without a clear mandate for “Indyref2,” the ongoing tedious drip drip drip of a threat of it has continued unabated.

The primary excuse for this threat is that Scotland is being “dragged out of the UK against it’s will”, and that (Brexit) is the material change of circumstance “suggested” in the manifesto.

Scotland did not have a separate Brexit vote, Scots voted as part of the UK. If the SNP were so wedded to EU membership, then perhaps the manifesto commitment to seeking a second Indyref should have been specifically stated as such. Perhaps they thought a fudge was best (internal research will have shown them a significant proportion of their support was in fact anti EU).

There was no UK promise to Scotland that if it voted No it would remain in the EU. The promise was actually that if we had voted Yes we would definitely have been out of the EU, on the day we became a separate state our EU membership would cease to exist. Scotlands “membership” of the EU stems from the UK’s membership. The UK would have continued the membership until it chose otherwise.

Events have now overtaken us. We voted No, the UK, all of us, voted to leave the EU. Ignoring the fact there was no clear mandate, no SNP conference commitment and the SNP strategy (widely publicised never officially denied) of waiting to see a clear and sustained poll advantage in favour of separation (60% for 12 months over a number of polls) has been abandoned (if it has), the SNP are ramping up the Indyref2 rhetoric.

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There is strong evidence that Brexit has caused consternation in the Yes camp. Leave aside the almost impossible difficulties of acquiring new EU membership (every other member state must say yes), the real issue is do the hardcore independence campaigners want to swap one union for another? If allowed entry (in a “few” years time), Scotland would not benefit from any of the current UK opt outs, would have to join the Euro on succession and commit to the free movement of people.

The SNP have their “National Survey” to consult and shortly we will see the results of the public consultation on the proposed Referendum Bill, the former may give them false hope, the later should be a different kettle of fish. Whatever the analysis of these two pieces of research (the SNP wont share the survey) it is evident from the polls that the appetite both for a second referendum and indy itself are waning, all trends point to a weakening of desire.

Perhaps this background of unsettled activists, the Brexit vote (polls showed an increase in the immediate aftermath – now below the referendum levels) and the realisation the likelihood of a new vote and success is declining, accounts for the sour faces and constant demands for Scotland’s voice to be heard.

Scotland will exit the EU as part of the UK, there is no way it can get any “special treatment” haranguing the UK for this is pathetic, its a UK Brexit as confirmed by the EU. Scotland has no voice other than as part of the UK. The publishing of a Scottish Brexit Paper and trips to consult with Brussels and EU leaders is a complete waste of time and money, the issue is a reserved one, while the SNP pursue this silliness its comparable to Nero fiddling while Rome burns.

We are being listened to, we are being consulted and the United Kingdom Supreme Court has confirmed that the devolved administrations cannot stop Brexit.

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So what next? In recent days Sturgeon has ramped up the rhetoric, complaining we are not being listened to and  we are not “equal partners” and that Scotland demands and must have “special treatment” and access to this that and the other. All of this while Scottish finances show we benefit to the access to our largest market and the benefits of pooling and sharing to the tune of £15 Billion per year currently. GERS RESOURCE

Lets just presume she keeps on pushing, how does indyref2 get up and running?

The UK would have to officially recognise there is a case for Indyref2, they would then have to produce another section 30 bill, via legislation, transferring the power to Scotland to hold a constitutional referendum. A further binding agreement (Edinburgh Agreement 2) on the terms, date and wording (subject to the electoral commission), would also be required. It is unlikely that those terms, conditions and questions would be as per Indyref1.

There may well be a higher hurdle rate, say a 10% winning margin, a minimum turnout of 75% of the electorate, EU citizens excluded from the vote and the question stated as Remain or Leave ( this would almost definitely be the wording, as per Brexit).

The next issue is timing. Probably not before 2021. There is no likelihood, even if the UK agree another Scottish manifesto mandate and vote is not required, that a second referendum will be countenanced prior to Brexit negotiations being concluded, so in light of all the bluff and bluster, what are the SNP up to?

2021 because of the time it will take to resolve Brexit, agree there is a satisfactory mandate, produce legislation, settle any legal issues, produce and pass a bill and get mutual agreement on an Edinburgh Agreement 2, all in the knowledge that the SNP completely broke their word on Indyref1 and their promise to respect the will of the Scottish people.

Once again they are riding the situation to gain advantage, to secure more powers, they are well aware redistribution of powers back to the UK from the EU will create an opportunity to grab more for “Scotland”. What this really means is – as per Indyref1 – pressure the UK to keep devolving and transferring powers, because increasing that sense of separation is key to driving ultimate total separation.

I think May is wise to this, and I’m appreciative of her handling of Sturgeon to date. The next few months will be interesting.

Steve Sayers 1/Feb/17

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