Why not a 3rd Scottish Independence Referendum post deal with rump UK?

Today the Scots Nats might win an overall majority in the Scottish Parliament, without the necessity of support from the greenies. It could even be an SNP majority without the support of Alex Salmond’s Alba party. If that were to occur there would be a strong mandate from the Scottish people for a second referendum on Scottish Independence, despite in 2014 it being abundantly clear that the Independence Referendum was a once in a generation decision. If the same time span between referenda on EU membership were adhered to then another would not be due until 2053.

However, those interested, like me (a) maintaining a union more than three centuries old and (b) not wanting to deliver the Scots into penury and tyranny, must concede that the SNP will continue their puerile political tantrums until they get way. Particularly if they get their overall majority the British Parliament might have to concede this or face having to annul a SNP referenda, like the Spanish with the Catalonians a few years ago.

More importantly, there are parallels with the 2016 EU Referendum, particularly around leavers being deceived and the alleged harms of a no-deal exit. As Scotland is far more closely bound to the UK than the UK was to the EU, any exit without a deal would be far more damaging than a no-deal Brexit. The major items to consider are

  • Continued use of pound sterling and any say by Scotland in the running of monetary policy.
  • Any continued subsidies by the UK of Scotland, as under the current Barnett formula or a program to wind them down.
  • Implicit subsidies of the UK in purchasing Scottish renewables, along with continued membership of the National Grid.
  • Fishing rights.
  • Trade deal to prevent a hard border with the rest of the UK.
  • A deal that includes taking on Scotland’s fair share of UK national debt.
  • At least advanced negotiations to join the EU, with encouraging signs from Spain (who fear Catalan & Basque separation) and Belgium, who fear a split between the Flanders & Wallonia.
  • The right of regions with a major “no” vote to have a separate vote to remain part of the UK. This was claimed for Scotland as part of the UK on the EU Referendum vote, so why not Southern Scotland and Shetland?
  • A Scottish constitution that ensures separation of the executive, legislature and judiciary. Alex Salmond’s recent tribulations suggest that the distinctions may have become blurred in a devolved Scotland.
  • Uncertainties leading to an exit of businesses and people from Scotland.

In fairness to the people of Scotland, given all the vast uncertainties and emotions in such a campaign, it would be best to timetable third referendum after about two years. Prior to this, the people of the rump UK should have a vote on any deal on future relationships with Scotland, particularly on borders, currency, UK national debt and subsidies to a foreign power. Thus the Scots can see whether they will be leaving with a deal or no deal, hard border or not etc. etc.

Kevin Marshall

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