So here we are, 31 days from the tory made disaster of Brexit and no one has readied the lifeboats. That’s one calendar month, probably less by the time that you read this, from the looming cliff edge that is the far right’s wet dream. The Rees-Mogg led Extreme Right Group (ERG) are creating a huge extra workload for matron to clean up in the morning. They just can’t help themselves, they’re dreaming of a plummeting pound for the forex traders to cash in on, they’re dreaming of falling share prices for the hedge funds to cash in on too. In fact the Prime Minister herself stands to profit hugely from Brexit. Brexit is an exercise in turning the UK into a tory playground complete with street urchins.
That being the case, why is Scotland still being dragged down with the rusting hulk of the Britannia? Why has the First Minister not ordered the launching of the independence referendum lifeboat? After all, the Scottish Government has a triple lock mandate to hold that referendum, don’t they? So what’s the problem?
The problem, dear reader, is that the lifeboat has some holes in it, so the First Minister regretfully announces that it just won’t float. Except she hasn’t announced anything of the sort, but that’s what she would like to say. But the problem is you, yes you. And Nicola Sturgeon. You see it was politically expedient to rekindle the fire of independence when the Brexit vote was announced. It got us all excited, because we wants it. It got us out campaigning for the political wing of the independence movement, the SNP. Which helps during elections.
But now the mood music is delay. Just until we know which way Brexit is going. You understand, don’t you? Once we’ve got some clarity on which side this decrepit hulk will list, then we’ll know when to launch the lifeboat. Except it’s holed, that boat is. In fact it’s got more holes than Fluffy Muddle and Touchy Thomson could hope to see on a late night in Boaby’s Bar in the Palace of Westminster. So there will be more delay, maybe five years by some accounts. We’ll all be drowned by then, won’t we? Why won’t Nicola just use the mandate?
First up is the small legal issue of the constitution being reserved to our Imperial Masters in London. If we want to hold a legally binding referendum then we need the agreement of overwhelmingly unionist UK parliament. But they don’t want to see their oil fields and driven grouse shooting estates disappear. Especially with the looming Brexit debacle, where would one scurry off to in one’s helicopter when the starving people are rioting in the streets? No, the Imperial Masters aren’t going to let us have a legally binding referendum, or even an advisory one. The constitution is reserved remember? Take it to the Supreme Court and see what they say.
But let’s say that by some curious quirk of the UK electoral system, the UK parliament were to grant Scotland a legally binding referendum, what then? Well we would all go and have a look at the lifeboat, our saviour from this wretched union. Then we would start to see the holes.
We’d see the great big currency hole with the Growth Commission patch on it. You know the one which says currency union without saying currency union. The one which says that we want a third country to make our fiscal policy for us, which isn’t really independence after all.
We’d see the Inter-Great Britain Border (IGB) hole. There will need to be border posts at Coldstream won’t there? Customs checkpoints at Gretna? That would depend upon the relative EU status of rUK and Scotland, what would that be? Who knows?
There’s that EU hole, that looks quite chunky. Will we be in the EU or the EEA? Or EFTA? That depends upon Brexit, doesn’t it? Or Spain? If we have already left the EU, how long will it take to re-join? Do we even want to re-join? How will we make these decisions and when?
Then there is the 2021 hole. The one that says Holyrood elections. We have a mandate until then but can we use it? Prior to the first independence referendum negotiations took place between the Scottish and UK governments which resulted in the Edinburgh Agreement of 2012. I don’t know how long those negotiations took but they wouldn’t have happened overnight. How long do you think they would take now with “Now is not the time,” Theresa as Prime Minister?
If the UK Prime Minister is good at anything she is good at delay, prevaricate, frustrate and extend. She has all the time in the world to delay a second independence referendum and the UK parliament will back her to the hilt. If the Scottish Government play this game with her, we will arrive at the Holyrood elections with no Section 30 order and a government which has achieved very little in its previous term. That’s a Scottish Government which would probably lose that election, and the mandate would expire with it. The Tories would be delighted.
If the Scottish Government wish to avoid this scenario then they will have to provide some big improvements in the lives of the voters. They need to provide affordable housing, built by local authorities and not big business. The need to provide a nationalised railway and a nationalised energy company. The need to get out there and do the easy stuff that will have a real impact on people’s lives. They also need to admit to the Yes community that the promised independence referendum isn’t going to happen within this parliament, that would allow them to get on with the business of governing. The day job as the tories jibe.
Meanwhile those holes in the lifeboat need fixing…