Saturday, 25 June 2016

The Scottish Question

The Guardian is busy trying to interpret the result. What could it possibly mean? Is it that Britain has got Farage fever? Have we turned inward? Is it a protest vote?

The one question they have not asked, because it does not occur to them is, is it because we wanted to leave the EU? And the answer is most emphatically yes.

The ballot paper had the question "Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?" The two possible options were "Remain a member of the European Union" and "Leave the European Union" - and as per tradition, we go with the result that most people opted for. In this instance, more people selected "Leave the European Union" than selected "Remain a member of the European Union".

And so no interpretation is required. There is no hidden message here. This is not an instruction to go away and think about how to reform the EU or to "engage voters". The option "Leave the European Union" is as unequivocal as it possibly can be.

But what does it mean for Scotland? Well Scotland voted to remain part of the United Kingdom, and in so doing elected to accept decisions made on a national basis. And so as the Leave sentiment is UK wide, with 38% of Scotland voting to leave, their voices were accounted for in the overall vote. That is a consequence of voting to remain in the UK.

But this is not good enough for Nicola Sturgeon who thinks it is within her gift to force a second referendum on Scottish independence. She is seeking to leverage her position to try and subvert the national verdict. I very much doubt that parliament would be so reckless as to pass such a measure even in their determination to stay in the EU. It really would show their contempt for the British people. I have just enough faith left in our MPs that they will do as they are instructed. Though I advise vigilance.

As it happens, I am not opposed to Scottish self-determination. But this is an inopportune moment to be adding further instability to the political landscape and dare I say, wholly irresponsible. The SNP must accept that Scotland voted to remain part of the UK and must accept the consequences that go with that. Once we are out of the EU we can then discuss it further.

If then there is another vote on Scottish independence I will remain entirely neutral. But it should be noted Scotland's chances of re-admittance into the EU are remote. It is difficult to see what Scotland would gain - unless of course they joined us as partners in Efta which is not at all an unthinkable prospect. But I doubt that is what Wee Nippy has in mind. She is being entirely opportunistic and seeking to sabotage the Brexit process. That is why she is contemptible.

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