Sturgeon in US: why failure to reach Brexit deal would be catastrophic


By Russell Bruce

The PBS interview is a model of how events should be reported. The First Minister’s visit to the US has aroused a great deal of interest against the backdrop of continuing Brexit chaos and Scotland’s potential exit route through a second independence referendum. The visit is important for Scotland in building on a strong trade and cultural relationship with the US that goes back to the early years of American independence.

Seemingly it is of little interest to broadcasters in Scotland and the UK. As a model lesson on how to conduct international relations they perhaps feel May’s achievements in antagonising foreign countries makes for more ‘entertaining’ television.

Nicola Sturgeon explains why she will not move for independence until our nearest neighbour finally makes up its mind what its relationship will be with the EU. The people of Scotland need to know that the continuity they seek with the EU and Scotland’s place in the international community is known when they are asked to vote for independence. We live in a complex world and Scotland’s First Minister and her team of ministers are establishing contacts to make that future a secure place for the people of Scotland. Just demanding independence is not enough. Independence requires a vision of a different, ambitious, more equal society that the UK is seemingly incapable of. The opportunity is coming but those that want the First Minister to lead us into a second referendum too soon risk finding their hopes of a positive outcome dashed on rocks of a major miscalculation.

The UK is the member state and Scotland will leave the EU as part of the UK. Scotland cannot stay, but as a nation compliant in EU law it can return as a member state in its own right after a successful vote for independence. When we look at the backing Ireland has been given by the EU in helping it resolve issues arising from the UK’s impending departure we see the collective resolve of 27 countries to protect their joint interests. Ireland is too important to the EU and major members, particularly Germany and France, are standing behind the Republic.

The UK has miscalculated in piling pressure on Ireland as the US is also now expressing concern. Small countries sometimes have big friends.

The European Investment Bank has said it will increase financial aid for Ireland with €300m in soft loans to help the country prepare for Brexit. In recent years the EU has provided €16m in funding towards port development at Cork, Shannon and Dublin. Scotland can expect a great deal of help from the EU following a UK crash out. We should not underestimate the importance of both moral and practical support from the EU compared to the threats emanating from that other state in our unequal union. 

Unwittingly, many in their over optimism find themselves aligned with unionist trolls urging the ‘lets just go for it’ approach. Unionists will use every means at their disposal to frustrate independence and they have found the axe to cleave asunder rational political judgement to open splits in the independence movement. Unity and determination are our strengths. Our time is coming. There is nothing stopping the rolling campaign for independence continuing to build support against the background of a dysfunctional UK government and opposition.