By Russell Bruce
We are out – 4 days left
Four days left of the transition period then all trade with Europe will be tied up in great bundles of paperwork costing exporters – costs the Single Market and Customs Union had removed. Four freedoms lost for a paltry deal that will inhibit trade in goods and provide nothing for Services left out in the cold.
80% of the UK economy is services and these have been positive for exports since the creation of the Single Market. Margaret Thatcher is not remembered well in Scotland. Thatcher’s understanding of Scotland was little better than Johnson’s but she did understand the significant advantage for the UK of the Single Market, as we always have and continue to do so in Scotland.
The losses mount with this bad deal
We have lost the freedom of movement, the right to travel unrestricted for work, study and pleasure when and for as long as we choose. On 1st January 2020 we lost our EU citizenship. In 4 days time we lose so much more. Everything will be much more difficult and the hit to the UK and Scottish economies will be compounded by a crass and idiotic narrow-minded Brit nationalism that still has no understanding or recognition of what they have done. We are a third country without the advantages of Norway, Switzerland, Lichtenstein and Iceland who have much closer arrangements and are within the wider family of European nations.
Small mercies that actually suit the EU
The saving grace is a deal that removes tariffs on goods without quotas. As the EU sells more goods to the UK than the UK sells to Europe then this is actually more of a win for the EU and not the rousing victory Johnson claims. It is important also for Scotland, not just in the interim, but when we become an Applicant State and then Member 28 it will define the trading relationship of an independent Scotland with the English market. Brexiteers went on at length about EU red tape and have added tons of new paperwork to the exports of goods to Europe along with added veterinary certification for fish and meat produce – work that has been carried out up until now by EU qualified vets.
Their qualifications are no longer valid come January 1st as recognition of equivalent qualifications ceases. Same applies to doctors, nurses, teachers and university professors with EU nation qualifications. Scotland must push through emergency legislation granting those working in Scotland the recognition they have now so there is no question as to their right to continue to contribute to Scotland as they do now.
Survival? Johnson and those now living in poverty
Will Johnson survive for long? That remains to be seen, it is not as if he gives all his energy to Affairs of State although noted for affairs of a different nature. The man waiting in the wings to replace Johnson is a Scot, Michael Gove and his poll ratings in Scotland are even worse than Johnson’s. At the core of support for Scottish Independence are beliefs in the values of a fair society where individuals and businesses can thrive without the divide that is a feature of current UK and US politics.
The decline in GDP is predicted to be greater than for other advanced economies. Inward investment is how the UK has managed the current account for decades, attracting money from regimes around the world keen to gain access to financial services with strong links to tax havens in the Crown dependencies and overseas tax havens, remnants of Empire getting by due to City of London spin out connections.
Choices and voices
Scotland’s future is in the EU as that is the overwhelming wish of people in Scotland. Trade in both directions across the border is significant for both countries but that is not an argument against Scotland’s application for EU membership. Like Ireland, after rejoining the EU we will need to reorient our trade to build on markets where we already have strength and continue to open new trade frontiers where there is much opportunity for Scottish quality brands.
Scotland is a major trading partner for England and that has consequences for businesses in England that want to continue to trade with Scotland, so we can see many choosing to open in Scotland with the added benefit they will regain access to the EU. As an applicant state Scotland will have early access to the Single Market.
Since 2016, as England drew into itself and a past that has long ceased to exist, the UK’s international standing has declined. Gunboats in the Channel do nothing for a tarnished reputation. Europe is about more than trade and cooperation, it is about peace and stability. The fishing nations of the EU have gunboats too so this was never more than a hollow jingoistic holler of narrow British nationalism.
Scotland can and will gain what the UK has lost. A voice of our own – increased members in the European Parliament, a seat in the Council of Ministers, and our own Commissioner like every other member state. The people of Scotland will regain their EU citizenship and all that provides in addition to our rights and opportunities as an independent country.
The EU will continue to develop and Scotland’s voice will be heard. Other nations our size have influence as we have seen with Ireland over these tortuous months of never-ending negotiations. However much Johnson sought to divide with wasted energy, the bonds and unity of the EU 27 tightened like a noose on Westminster.
Values for a just and prosperous society
Scotland’s political values are different. We value public servants, don’t believe in bullying them, and pay them fairly, especially the lower grades whom we need to recruit more of. Setting up new departments means we will have need of experienced personnel including some from England and the EU.
Driving down costs and wages puts more money in the bank accounts and offshore assets of the few – it does not circulate through the economy. Fair rising incomes and state pensions circulate through the economy creating more employment, improving productivity and therefore tax revenues without needing to raise basic tax rates.
We wish no harm to the people left in England but whatever you have done, you have done to yourselves because of the political choices you have made in recent years.
Scotland’s greatest advantage in moving to independence is ENERGY and I am not talking here about oil and gas or our considerable renewable advantages but the ENERGY that will be released by the people of Scotland as we embrace the opportunities independence will bring.
There will be challenges but Scotland has the people and skills to chart our own future, determined to succeed and not have our future dictated by Westminster governments we do not elect and who will force us to swallow a new round of austerity sooner or later because that is hard-wired into Treasury thinking. Make no mistake, if we dither the powers of the Scottish Parliament face further assaults, and its very existence will be in doubt because it is already a threat to the British state in its devolved form.
Hanging on to a Westminster British State is like clinging to the railings of a sinking ship, too conflicted to grasp the opportunity of safe rescue and a future of challenges and opportunities. Scotland has given much to the world. The ingenuity and inventiveness we have shared with others we must now turn to our own advantage whilst continuing to contribute to a better world.
Scottish rural projects are set to lose out on £1.28 billion EU funding post-Brexit. Over 1000 rural projects in Scotland have been funded over the last few years. We know that funding for economically fragile rural areas is an EU priority. We have no idea what Westminster will propose but we know there will be promises that have to cover all of the UK.
Like Brexit Westminster promises never quite stand up to the cold light of day. Scotland requires more certainty than ever comes from Westminster. Europe is the safe route. We were in Europe for over 40 years so we know what the future will hold.
The UK has a deal for the next 5 or so years. Will Westminster be wise and continue to work at increasing cooperation in more areas, or does it see this period as a time to whittle away at the agreement using it merely as an opportunity to limit economic damage over and above the damage already ravaged by the pandemic? The latter choice is not unlikely given the hatred of Europe in Conservative party ranks. Scotland must opt for independence and Europe, it is the safe and certain choice.