Scotland’s fishy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is demanding direct access to Brexit negotiations. That’s to be expected from this jumped-up nationalist. What’s astounding, not to mention unconstitutional, is that she looks likely to get it.
After all, the United Kingdom isn’t a federation, like the USA. Nor is it a confederation, like Switzerland. It’s a unitary state. That means Her Majesty’s government is authorised to conduct any negotiations on behalf of the four countries under its aegis: England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.
Scotland owes its devolved status to the most revolting personage ever to occupy 10 Downing Street: Tony Blair. Dead set on destroying as much of our constitution as possible, Blair pushed the devolution act through Parliament, granting Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales their own assemblies and greater autonomy.
However, even Blair didn’t go so far as to grant the devolved parts of the UK the freedom to set their own foreign policy. Moreover, what Parliament gives it can take away. Activating the same mechanisms Margaret Thatcher used to get rid of the Greater London Council, Theresa May could – and should – undo Scotland’s devolution. She probably has a sufficient parliamentary majority for that.
Meanwhile, Dave Cameron, who could give Blair a good run for his money in the worst-ever-PM stakes, tried to deliver another blow to the constitution of the United Kingdom by granting Scotland an independence referendum.
The blow missed: the Scots sensibly voted against. However, presaging similar tactics by the Remainers, Sturgeon’s SNP is pushing for another referendum because it didn’t like the results of the first one. The nationalists must have learned the trick from the EU they love so much: if the people vote wrong, make them vote again until they get it right.
Actually, by the looks of it, their understanding of nationalism differs from the dictionary definition. They don’t want to be independent tout court – they just want to be independent from England.
If they get their wish, break away from a Brexit UK and join the EU as an individual member, Scotland will become considerably less independent, not more. Within the EU, beggars definitely aren’t choosers, and Scotland would be totally dependent on Brussels’s largesse.
Considering the catastrophic state of EU finances, this largesse isn’t likely to be exorbitant, certainly falling far short of the handouts Scotland receives from the British Parliament. And Scotland would have to become an abject supplicant to receive even those short EU rations.
That would give it a status similar to that of Greece, a far cry from Scotland’s influence in the UK, where it has supplied one royal dynasty, seven prime ministers and uncountable cabinet members. The Scottish nationalists are thus expressing not love of independence but hatred of England, a sentiment demonstrably not shared by most Scots, especially those whose English one can understand.
Now the nationalists are holding England to ransom, threatening a second referendum, which would be a major irritant even if it delivers the same result, as seems likely. And Sturgeon’s demands are as outlandish as those of most blackmailers.
Effectively she’s demanding veto powers to any Brexit deal or, alternatively, the right to make separate arrangements with the EU. That would involve staying in the single market even if the UK opts out.
The SNP’s previous leader, the equally fishy Alex Salmond, supports her unequivocally: “Nicola Sturgeon’s red lines are that she wants Scotland to be within the single marketplace, she wants proper legal treatment for fellow EU citizens in Scotland and she wants the rights of Scottish workers, social and employment rights, to be protected.”
In other words, he wants Scotland to be an independent state, or rather one dependent on the EU, effectively reversing the result of Scotland’s referendum and ignoring the wishes of the Scottish people. That, of course, is par for the course: like any other socialist party, the SNP regards people as merely a means to its own ends.
One hopes that Mrs May will respond with the kind of fortitude that’s essential when dealing with blackmailers. In fact, she could counter their threats with some of her own, such as cutting Scotland’s subsidies or revoking its devolved status through an act of Parliament.
Unfortunately, one detects some vacillation on Mrs May’s part and a tendency towards appeasement in her initial response to Sturgeon’s blackmail. If so, this is most unfortunate: weakness on the PM’s part may achieve the opposite result to the one she desires: the breakup of the United Kingdom.