IndyRef 2 becomes a reality

Nicola Sturgeon made the call this morning for a decision at the Scottish Parliament ‘next week’ to open discussions with the UK government on a new referendum on independence for Scotland.

Following the recent Ipsos MORI opinion poll putting support for (and against) independence at 50:50, such a move was likely on the basis that the largest party in the Scottish Parliament believes in independence and whose Green partners believe likewise. The SNP does not have a majority of the 129 Scottish MSPs but, with the support of the Greens, Parliament will approve the motion seeking such authority when put to it next week.

I’ve stated before – and this blog’s comments on Brexit highlight passim – that I’m not instinctively in favour of any approach to a country’s affairs rooted in the national as opposed to the international. I can’t see myself voting next time in any referendum any differently to the last one – although it does depend significantly on the question that is put to me in the voting booth. The difference this time around is the context of Brexit which is leading – apparently inexorably – to the break-up of the UK, as Ian Dunt successfully argues. He’s not right in everything (I am a Yugo-nostalgist, but it can’t be only me to notice that this is clearly not the first ‘active dismemberment of a country against itself’). More particularly, I don’t blame those voting ‘Leave’ last June for the break-up of the UK – this is, as Dunt also points out, quite clearly the fault of Theresa May and those others backing a hard Brexit. Arrogance, an anti-consultative tendency and a totally un-nuanced approach to the questions posed by the referendum – even to the point of government ministers claiming that parliament should reject the opportunity re-given it by the Lords to maximise its role in the process (EDIT: as indeed, and shamefully, happened tonight) – were always likely (and with evident justification) to see a Scottish government feeling its active marginalisation to kick back. You would expect that of any government in an active, engaged democracy and the Scottish Government is right to raise the question as it has done. The vote to leave the EU changes everything.

Consequently, I won’t – yet – be joining any ‘Together Stronger’ campaign. Indeed, one may not be necessary should Theresa May take this signal from Nicola Sturgeon for the final warning that it is, and change tack on the hard Brexit that she is relentlessly pursuing. David Allan Green in the FT notes the constitutional connections between Brexit and future of the UK; while it appears clear that the UK government has yet to learn the importance of listening to the priorities of the Scottish Government, the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Welsh Government, as Stephen Tierney also argues. I’m not holding out any hopes of that, however: and, indeed, the early signs are not good with May having already criticised the move as ‘deeply regrettable’: a sign that she has surely missed, or otherwise ignored, the signal entirely.

Meanwhile, the dark days for those who believe in a UK where resources are pooled and shared for the greater good of all – as much as for those who believe similarly on a pan-European scale – just got that little bit darker.

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2 thoughts on “IndyRef 2 becomes a reality

  1. Little to disagree with here. May, originally a Remainer, appears to have been trapped by the extremist Brexiteer nonsense, willing to concede nothing and listen to no-one. Scotland voted to remain in the EU and historically has had a far better and fairer deal from Brussels than it has had from Westminster. Significant sympathy for Scotland’s position has come from EU politicians and, in the context of ensuring that the UK pays its full dues for choosing to leave the club, favourable and fast inclusion of an independent Scotland can be expected, if only to demonstrate to others the different treatment of willing and unwilling partners.

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    1. Thanks David. May might have come out for Remain, but I think this was for political reasons. A long-standing Eurosceptic, I was a little surprised when she did come out for Remain, and I think her instincts are on the other side. Now, however, I can’t quite work her performances out: I don’t know if she’s simply been over-promoted but her style, in sharp contrast to the consensual, but resolute, style she will meet in Brussels, couldn’t be more attuned to getting a poor outcome. When she is put on the spot, she seems to be the type that panics when under pressure – a defensive reaction to a self-perception that she’s not in control of the situation. I don’t know if she really believes all this guff she comes out with that the nation is coming together behind her or whether she has been in politics too long. Either way, it spells danger: this country is completely divided and is about to get more so: her time in charge bringing about the end of the union is very real. Certainly she couldn’t have performed better for Nicola Sturgeon had she had strings attached, and when a softer, more consultative approach (the sort she seems to be capable of exercising with Trump) could (quite probably) have headed this off at the outset. Or, perhaps, she simply doesn’t care.

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