Commentator Iain Bruce states the case for the pro-independence campaign to confront the realities of Brexit for those Scots who voted to leave the European Union last June
It is self evident that the decisions we have to make in the next two years are undoubtedly momentous and all need to give careful consideration to arguments made more persuasive than the last time and with a strategy bearing only a passing resemblance to that of 2014.
Not least amongst the priorities is reaching out to those Leave voters in Scotland who also support independence. Estimated to be around 250-300,000 of them, those tortured souls whose passion for life in an independent country is circumscribed by whether we look to Europe to share our future, or a future in the modern world as nobody’s vassal state.
Indyref2 will not be a binary choice between two labels – Brussels or the world – but between two futures. While reaching out is a pragmatic strategy, it is vital to emphasis a future where the main opportunity is one where we get to take responsibility collectively, warts and all, and rise to the challenge to define a place for ourselves within the European project: one that needs to demonstrate more respect for its people than its institutions.
The alternative is a future for Scotland as an independent country but as a vassal state in continual thrall to England. For let us be under no illusions, there will be honourable negotiations. More Flashman than fair play, as England out of the EU will be a bruised and economically wounded entity irrespective of what Messrs Davis, Fox and Johnson claim. Even if the EU is not vindictive after 40 years of British intransigence, the delusional deals imagined by the three Brexiteers will prove to be illusory.
Undoubtedly, the “no, you’re not using our pound” spat of 2014 will pale into insignificance when we negotiate the real deal. Broken promises are the hallmark of the Britnats. Remember the deal for 13 Type 26 Royal Navy frigates which could only go to a shipbuilding yard which wasn’t foreign, the £1bn carbon capture competition fund in which Peterhead was in pole position, David Cameron’s oil bonanza and the jobs security that never was? The great Repeal Act, which so quickly superseded the promise that Brexit wouldn’t start until Scotland was on board. is more evidence of the “Perfidious Albion” who told us just two years ago that we would be “Better Together” in every respect.
What we’ll be faced with are negotiations not on the basis of equity and respect as a valued contributor to a shared heritage of over 300 years, but with the contempt of a deceitful, aged imperial power. Last week’s infamous 2016 Tory conference laid bare the democratic deficit, and the recently anointed Empress Theresa prepares now to wield her Royal Prerogative to extinguish our European citizenship of 40 years in the name of a government that we had no part in electing.
Democratic deficit is just another phrase for lost opportunity costs and the starting point in their negotiations.
Who says Independence will be easy? There will be downsides certainly, but also new opportunities waiting for our native nous to exploit in building a new future in a system which provides economic continuity. A future that allows us to invest the Hinkley Point dividend in taking back control of our power grid and be just like any other European country – managing its power distribution without geographical penalty for the benefit of all our consumers, and ensuring we fully exploit the potential of our emerging renewable energy industry as a significant player in the North Sea European super-grid. A future that has a Trident dividend when we end the obscenity of nuclear weapons in our homeland and very possibly an EU jobs dividend with the relocation of UK companies seeking to continue their EU business uninterrupted.
But Yes-voting Euro sceptics have a very hard choice. Undoubtedly there will be two tariff walls for Scottish business to scale, the EU one and London’s ‘independence penalty clause’ in the form of a new Hadrian’s Wall. Salving their antipathy towards the EU and negotiating what can only be a bitter severance package from the rUK, what you might call Hard UKxit will undoubtedly involve retaining the nuclear horror on the Clyde in return for access to this new fabulous world market of which London will be the epicentre.
The Britnats will not entertain finding an unexpected but small fortune to relocate their nukes. What can be a Hinkley Point dividend for the pro EU faction means English electricity will be more expensive when we retain our 8% population share of the obscenity of Hinkley Point power costing £30bn over its lifetime. Now it’s well known that Scotland’s oil has no real value but Sterling will no longer be a petro currency, so expect loss of prestige at the G7 to be another element of the independence penalty clauses.
But quest for a nation’s independence must be more than a slick spreadsheet of profit and loss. It is all about maturity and making your own way in the world, which needs collaboration with others.
The challenges of an independent Scotland in Europe are outweighed by a range of benefits other than the mere monetary. An independent Scotland outwith Europe and freed from the trammels of Rule Britannia faces overwhelming challenges for a small and peripheral European economy denied the benefits of a sovereign wealth fund that might have been the legacy of Brent crude. Those tortured souls unsure about their kind of independence will soon have to confront their demons.