A Very British Coup

How British would it be if the people voted to come out of Europe and Parliament disagreed? (The creaking sound is Oliver Cromwell – minus head – rotating at Tyburn). In my growing despair at the latest polls inching Leave ahead, I came across the BBC story quoting pro-EU MPs saying they would oppose measures to take the UK out even if the voters had demanded it.

So on the one hand you have democracy appeased through a fair vote but, because it doesn’t please the self-selected elite, the result is ignored. The people are traduced. There may well be the modern equivalent of a Cromwellian peasants’ revolt as a result but what does that mean when their elected representatives are securely bedded down at Westminster with, it seems, something approaching a 4-to-1 numercial advantage over the Brexiteers?

Whose side is democracy on? Obviously, the Outers. It was the same Parliament that voted for the referendum after all. It’s too late to change your mind now. But any amount of obstacles can be found in the Old Boys’ Club to obstruct the processes that are required to extricate the UK from 40 years of membership in Brussels. Nothing happens overnight and nothing actually changes on June 24 – except maybe the Prime Minister. But surely that too is doubtful as any mood for bluffing the exit really does require Cameron remains to ‘see through the transition’. Removing the In figurehead would weaken the case the Remain MPs want to make. And what is that case?

I imagine they want to delay as the message of the vote hits home and the dolorous task begins of picking up the pieces while hearing the gloomy news from around the world…watching the currency lose its value, hearing major employers talk of uprooting their operations, investment dries up, wails of pain from Northern Ireland, tales of doom from the more than a million Brits living abroad and dire warnings of fading influence in the City. The game will be to bluff until the idea takes hold that there has been a terrible mistake and the only escape may be through a second referendum – an idea given daily oxygen in Brussels where there is much head-shaking and eye-rolling at the perfidious Brits. Still, Brussels is mature enough not to rush things. They can be patient, if there is a mood to reconsider in London. The exit process is defined as two years but it can be adjusted by a unanimous vote of the 28 so they could shrug and decide not to trigger the exit talks.

There would be external pressure from solicitous international friends querying our sanity. The news would bed headed by the American President expressing dismay at our isolation and doubting if any trade deal can be finalised within a decade. Maybe more.

In Scotland the noisome Nats would be agitating and opening channels direct to Brussels, probably in alliance with the Welsh, through which devolved voices resistant to Brexit can be heard. Stories appear suggesting the EU is revisiting its unofficial opposition to statehood and surprisingly, finds a little-known document it prepared earlier for a fast track membership.

In Westminster the government fires the Brexit ministers returning them to the backbenches where they form a cadre of 150 rebels who demand daily that the people’s voice be heard and their decision acted upon. Across the civilised world, heads turn away although Boris Johnson is interviewed regularly on Russian TV.

The Leave MPs sound increasingly angry. It’s pointed out to them that the turnout was low and the margin of victory miniscule. Is it really a basis on which to make a fundamental decision? Didn’t some Unionists argue a straight majority was no basis for Scottish independence? Meanwhile the opinion polls show large numbers who didn’t turn out to vote are shocked into supporting EU membership.

In Brussels there is an immigration summit where the rules on freedom of movement are qualified to allow some discretion for member states, some of whom are in breach of open borders regulations as it is. A dispersal programme for migrants arriving from Mediterranean boats is agreed with country quotas.

Eventually Britain begins talk of doing a Dublin and asking the question again. There is polite coughing in Brussels. A new mood grips the UK as the EU takes on a warmer feel in the public mind and the hysteria in the newspapers fails to dent the new optimism. We’re staying in…

The only down side is in Edinburgh where Sturgeon drops preparations for her own referendum…

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33 thoughts on “A Very British Coup

  1. All of them Derek, every party in that hoose, used the press to manipulate public opinion and marginalise demographics as the agenda suited.

    They each created a narrative of otherness as the day dictated and they did it to suit themselves. Their narrative ran away from them and gathered a momentum all its own. What we are seeing now can be laid at only one door – naked party political self interest.

    The poor (see benefits scroungers), the disabled (see shiftless and workshy), immgrants (see furriners), tartan terrors/barbarians (see subsidy junkies). Politicians and their media created all of those tags and they did it wilfully and deliberately.

    If the UK votes out of the EU, the government laid the groundwork themselves.

    What political and constitutional fall out follows thereafter they also brought upon themselves.

  2. Bugger (the Panda)

    If that refusal to act upon the result of their Referendum, comes to pass, remember all referenda are consultative(?), the UK Gov delegitimises themselves.

    Scotland, assuming a pro EU vote, goes straight to a UDO, based on the Thatcher criteria for independence and immediately opens negotiations to replace the UK as the surviving State.

    You missed out N Ireland so they bail out too on a UDI and joins the Republic of Ireland. Wales, I think might wish to stay with Mother England, complex reasons.

    My only worry would be hostile stay behind elements in Scotland and N I. England needs to take them in.

    What a pigs breakfast that would be and ripe for Scotland to bail.

    EU might offer London new terms, maybe a halfway house between EFTA and EU to stay. That would eventually fall apart.

    I will have to order my own popcorn maker.

    • Scotland should be independent regardless of the UK’s relationship with the EU. All of this silly triangulation around the cultural politics of Englishness (oh UKIP are nasty etc.) is frivolous. Argue from first principles – sovereignty and democracy.

      The best unit for the expression of both is the nation state, by definition the UK will always be dominated by England, hence if Scottish people wish to be fully sovereign and have maximal democratic control over the shaping of their own social contract/society then independence is the only genuine mechanism to achieve that. What’s so difficult about that? And the logic of the argument is invariant with respect to if Brexit occurs or not. I happen to think Brexit, on balance, will be a good thing (especially as the EU is profoundly undemocratic).

    • @Panda
      “Scotland, assuming a pro EU vote, goes straight to a UDO, based on the Thatcher criteria for independence and immediately opens negotiations to replace the UK as the surviving State.”

      They have taken years with minimum alcohol pricing , and some controversial re-naming of a social workers job , let alone the local income tax . the main brief of the SNP govt will be to get a handful of” disadvantaged” into St Andrews University .

      UDO ? that’s for heroes .

  3. The elites will do whatever needs to be done to preserve their position. So, a Brexit vote will be taken as an instruction of the elites to negotiate terms for exit. Curiously those terms will be fantastically detrimental to the UK. So, with the interests of the country at heart, it is only right and proper for a second referendum on the very detrimental terms. Sorted. Pity this mucks up Nicola’s trigger for indyref2 but the real trigger is solid polling evidence of demand for Indy. I suspect many yoons would remain yoons even after a Brexit.

  4. As Clive suggests, in the event of an “out” vote (and I am still sceptical that that will actually come about regardless of what recent polls suggest) the UK will have to negotiate the terms on an exit and will, quite legitimately, say that the UK population has the right to vote on the terms of the exit agreement – ergo EURef 2.

    I actually think it’s quite insanely interesting and amusing to see how it all pans out – what with that and Trump perhaps becoming president (which would be very interesting indeed) given that Trump is for many the ultimate expression of trumpery yet is worshiped by many of the disenfranchised of the USA.

    Definitely all a case of “interesting times”…

  5. As long as the rancid so-called united kingdom continues to self-destruct (and it will regardless of the EU result) that’s the main thing.

  6. brexit is the English answer to English problems and it’s Tory on Tory. Whatever the outcome, it will stir a massive hornet’s nest on constitutional issues

  7. As we can see from the Eurozone any currency union involves a massive loss of sovereignty over a vital area of policy making. Any currency union will inevitably be dominated by the needs of its biggest member (in the Eurozone by German interests/concerns), what’s more that loss of sovereignty is a structural feature of such unions and thus they are profoundly anti-democratic by nature. Witness Greece, or what will happen in Spain if the anti-austerity left wins power.

    The best case for Scottish independence is the simplest one. Democracy. Sovereignty – the power of the people to democratically shape their society – is paramount within a fully democratic polity and is best excerised at the only appropriate scale which is the nation state. That is the people of Scotland are the best and only people to decide the future of Scottish society within a maximally democratic polity. No-one with an IQ above room temperature can honestly argue the direction of travel within the EU is toward greater democratic control and accountability.

    It’s incredibly dumb politics for the SNP to (1) endorse the mood music of project fear mark 2 and (2) to suggest that Scottish sovereignty is their possession to hand over the the EU or the Bank of England etc., because Salmond thinks it’s a good answer to a difficult question.

    The SNP need to intellectually take Scottish sovereignty seriously. Bashing Westminster or the Labour will only get the independence case so far (everyone that would vote SNP is probably on board now – what about those that might be biddable on independence but bulk at living in SNP land?).

    Is anyone in the SNP even thinking seriously about these issues?

    I can only imagine the car-crash that will be Sturgeon’s performance in the EU debate on ITV.

    • You’re hoping for a car crash?

      • I was thinking of Sturgeon’s utter incoherent stance that the UK leaving the EU would be terrible and risky yet Scotland leaving the Union is no biggy/risk free. The UK is a far larger economic unit (5th largest globally) and if the relatively trivial economic shock of leaving the EU is too much what on earth does that imply about Scotland leaving a Union of over 300 years?

        Intellectual rigour isn’t a bad thing in politics – it signals being a serious person. The opposite is equally true. We shall see how Sturgeon squares the circle of her stance but I doubt it will be worthy of serious examination.

        • Did you just offer the ‘too wee, too stupid’ argument to Scottish independence there Joe. Really? Did you? Nothing new then.

          • No absolutely not. But the SNP is offering that argument in the context of the UK and Brexit. If leaving the EU is “too risky” according to the SNP then that logic is x10 in the case of Scotland and the UK. The SNP are incoherent and that’s very bad for the cause of independence.

            Surgeon’s EU good, Tories bàaaaaaaaaaaaaaaàaaaaaaaaaàaad act is strategically risible. That’s the issue with the SNP – a lack of debate about serious issues within the party and a fondness for superficially ‘clever’ tactics at the expense of serious strategic thinking.

            Firstly some 30% of SNP voters are Eurosceptic – I guess from the way Sturgeon seemingly uncritically fawns over the EU such people (Eurosceptic supporers of Scottish independence) can of course vote SNP and then merely shut up?

            Secondly the SNP seem to think Scottish sovereignty is theirs to gift away as they see fit. A currency union here, the undemocratic EU there. It’s outrageously arrogant.

    • its all very well talking about’ handing over sovereignty’ ( in the traditional sense ) but we now live in a very global environment. No one as far as I know is talking about a currency union ( your point re loss of sovereignty) but at some point the ‘ west’ is going to have to tackle the financial issues, our esteemed financiers keep kicking into the long grass. Pension deficits anyone, never mind the establishment of new institutions like BRICS. You know the stuff we never hear about but concern half the rest of the trading World and it may just be, there’s safety in numbers for Britain.
      There is a world of difference, where the EU has to show some semblance of progress ( tackling air pollution, best practice in healthcare etc) compared to a bubble where there is still a hanger to hook your sword onto.
      Have you never noticed, for Westminster it is always everyone else who has to change, to modify, to concede? Yet the ‘ city’ and the wool guild rep from centuries ago, sits beside the speaker ( as is his privilege) as if awaiting the arrival of a steed to tell him, my Lord the peasants are revolting – hear hear !
      it may have escaped your notice but some of us already ‘ baulk’ at living in Toryland, where our right wing press gush the latest press release from blue Tories, red Tories , UKIP any right wing ‘think tank’ , academic expert , portrayed as a neutral on our increasingly petrified BBC with our only recourse, the ballot box, so for those biddable but not wishing to live in SNP land, they could do the same- vote.
      Scotland as opposed to Britain could fair differently . With no cumbersome H of Lords, no city of London to feed , no immovable but completely outdated traditions ( Lord Mayors procession and all it entails) and a wealth of natural assets , a younger generation happy to work with Europe rather than fear it could benefit with that safety in numbers. Sovereignty may be in the eye of the beholder. After all what ‘ sovereignty’ do we have now?
      Either way, while Britain stays firmly on the naval gazing and X Factor , the rest of the global village are moving on and the Euros start Friday

  8. Or the Scottish remain vote only just keeps us in the EU despite a majority in England for brexit. What constitutional can of worms will that inflict on us? I doubt our southern neighbours will just go quiet for a generation.

  9. Robert Graham

    Every Political party whilst in Government & involved in negotiations with the EU since Britain joined have told us mugs lies , This constant incremental mission creep towards a United States of Europe has got us to this point which is basicly between a rock and a shit place , So its hold your nose and hope for the best as the multitude of clairvoyants that have appeared have as much of a clue as to the outcome and repercussions as my cat .
    I wouldn’t bet on a second referendum on a vote to exit by England the majority have still to be convinced and i dont think so much has changed and the ensuing chaos with a negotiated exit this would i believe to be a step too far .People dont like change especially during a forecasted storm ..

  10. Next indyref we keep it straightforward: our own currency and another referendum guaranteed for the people of Scotland to decide Scotland’s relationship with the eu.

    • I agree – I wonder if anyone in the SNP can recognise that Scottish sovereignty is NOT theirs to gift away in their irrational devotion to the EU or on incoherent schemes for currency unions thought up on the back of fag packet. Difficult questions no-one in the SNP seems interested in.

      As for the SNP, however meekly, getting on board with Project Fear mark 2 is idiocy itself. If the UK leaving the EU is ‘too risky’ and the powers that be tell the truth with a capital T (Brexit will be the end of the world etc) what on earth does that imply about Scotland leaving a Union of some 300 plus years standing? Does anyone in the SNP leadership think in joined-up sentences?

  11. I am beginning to seriously doubt the intelligence required to work and make decisions within the EU, this morning on daily politics it was announced that further to the success of the agreement between the EU and Turkey to stop or stem the influx of migrants and refugees to the EU at the TINY amount of 5 Billion Euros and visa free travel for Turks within the Schengen zone. The EU intelligentsia have decided in their ultimate wisdom, to extend this fantastic ( working or not ) idea to more Middle Eastern countries and African countries.
    They are proposing to GIVE ( Or Bribe ) African and ME countries with money and visa free travel within Schengen to dissuade and stem migrants attempts to get to Europe . Their belief is that if they give the money to these countries, and the relevant governments spend it on infrastructure and making the places better ( aye right ) the migrants will be happy with their new things ( provided that the dough will not end up in somebody’s bank account ) and they will not seek the promised land or the streets paved with gold.
    WTF the Turkey deal hasn’t worked, they are just finding and using different routes, we will never stop this onslaught until politicians realise that we cannot accept everyone, multi culturism and integration are creating massive problems. STOP BOMBING THESE COUNTRIES AND CONTRIBUTING TO THIS PROBLEM, MIND YOUR OWN F****** BUSINESS , LET THEM DEAL WITH ISIS IN THEIR OWN WAY

  12. DomesticExtremist

    It is always enlightening to turn a given situation on its head to determine if one’s opinion is suffering from unjustified bias.
    Imagine the inverse situation then: UK votes narrowly to stay with a very low turnout and (somehow) Parliament conspires to take us out of the EU.
    Would there not be uproar?

    • The other way of turning the situation on its head is to imagine that you were part of the politically unengaged majority who still leave their politics in a box to be taken out on polling day only. Such a life where uproar only happens in TV soaps or if the golf course goes into liquidation.

      • DomesticExtremist

        That doesn’t turn anything on its head.

        In the end, decisions get made by those that turn up.

  13. it is entirely possible that even this scenario will disgust people here in Scotland enough to get Yes over 60%. The antics of the frustrated Brexiters alone will turn the stomach of most people here I would have thought.

    A kneejerk referendum would not be a good idea in any case. There is, as you point out, plenty of time to let the enormity of the situation, the horrible glee of the swivel-eyed impact on people’s minds and sensibilities.

    Don’t forget a Brexit mandates a reunification referendum in Northern Ireland under the Good Friday Agreement. NI holding a referendum on the issue and Scotland not? That one will work on people as well. ‘Why can’t we have a say too?’

    Events, dear boy, events.

  14. I’m aware this isn’t new thinking, but I really do believe this referendum is merely an extension of an internal war over Europe taking place in the Tory party, and as such, has very little to do with the people of Scotland. Unfortunately, because we didn’t vote to become an independent country when we had the opportunity, we are involved.
    There are so many different scenarios that could happen, that I don’t believe they are even worth speculating on,so we will just have to wait and see.
    What I did find interesting, after all the publicity given to how the Scottish Referendum would cause great uncertainty in the business community, which of course never happened, was Sky News reporting last night that some £65 billion had departed the City of London in the preceding two months.
    Whatever the result, the damage to the economy of the U.K will be considerable, and all because of a bunch of toffs trying to settle old scores. Whoever wins, the utterly discredited Westminster establishment will still be in charge of us, unfortunately.

    • Bugger (the Panda)

      Alex, of course it is. Factor in the right wing nut jobs of UKIP, which is a safety valve for the Tories and the off-shored dying Press titles and the whole bollox begins to unfog.

  15. I was criticle of a previous article, Mr Bateman, but this offering is spot on.

    None the less, if Britain votes to leave, and Westminster keeps us in on a technicality, it would be a shameful assault on our democratic values. Attitudes would harden down south. Civil disorder and or riots could possibly happen. Even if we avoided that, and I hope to God it never comes to pass, UKIP would see its support skyrocket in the same way the SNP’s did in May 2015.

    People who voted Yes in 2014 moved to the SNP, becuase it made little sense to support a unionist party. Similary, anybody who votes leave would have no reason to vote Lab/Con/Lib. Supporting UKIP would be the logical outcome.

    Unable to win in Middle England, and having lost its Welsh and North East England heartlands to UKIP, Corbyn’s Labour would have no chance in 2020

    UKIP could be kingmakers in 2020, and here lies the problem. If pro-EU MPs can cite parliamentry sovereignty to keep us in the EU, then a solid rump of UKIP MPs acting as kingmakers in 2020, could play that game as well.

    • The scenario which Derek Bateman lays oof.he Westminster Parliament “gerrymandering” the result of a Brexit vote or series of votes through Parliament, requires deeper scrutiny of the details and potential impacts because such a vote will not split neatly on party lines.

      The Tories (the original heirs to a single market superstate, the UK) will, as they are now, split on Europhile and Euro sceptic lines (only more so).

      The Labour Party position will be interesting. The Blair cult wing will almost certainly line up behind a gerrymandering process if only to undermine their own party with the electorate. Their position will be slash and burn as they have nothing but disdain for anyone from their own party members through to the electorate who have the temerity to disagree with them and consequently anything they can do to prevent Corbyn or anyone not of their sect from winning for Labour will govern their actions. The left Euro sceptics will likely line up to honour such a refurendum result regardless of what the Corbyn wing decide to do. That section of the party have shown no inkling of whipping MP’S into line. What position they take will probably be determined by what they think the political impact will be one way or the other rather than any principled stance given the behaviour of the fifth columnists of the Blair faction.

      The small lump of Libdems will most certainly line up behind any Parliamentary process designed to negate a Brexit result.

      PC and the one Green MP will continue to be consistent to their principles regardless.

      The Northern Ireland MP’S, regardless of party, will go with their economic interests and do anything to maintain membership of the EU. This could have interesting repercussions for the OO Unionists, particularly in respect of their relationship with their English blood brothers in UKIP as well as some of the internal strife it would throw up.

      The really interesting position will that taken up by the SNP contingent. Will they, as committed Europeans, side with a process to maintain UK membership and forfeit an open goal for a second independence refurenfum, or will they argue that as committed democrats they have a responsibility to honour the UK VOTE overall,even if Scottish voters overwhelmingly vote to reman in the EU (and perhaps Joe Kinnear might like to take such a position and will of the Scottish Electorate on board rather than conflating and confusing Sovereignty and democracy and making out there is no link between the electoral majority voting that way and the SNP doing the same) knowing that by doing so they will have a better chance of a second refurendum?

      How the numbers stack up in and between each party will be interesting. The Tory headaches will certainly side with UKIP in any GE. However, by that point Scotland and NI will most certainly be off and away leaving Midfle England and Wales to lay in the bed they have chosen for themselves , a feudal Ruritanian backwater kingdom (small k) eithno srl awareness blaming everyone else for their self created problems.

  16. Re Brexit and the EU. I would like to see some robust evidence that a Brexit makes Scottish independence a slam-dunk. This idea seems to be a major trope within SNP circles. After all in the event of Brexit there will be some uncertainty and just how deep is this EU lovefest among Scots. Aren’t some 30% of SNP voters Eurosceptic? In the scenario Scotland votes remain England votes leave, you would have the people of Scotland faced with which Union they most value – the EU or the UK. I really do have my doubts that when push comes to shove it’s the EU. Yes among the SNP there is an entirely uncritical acceptance of the ‘wonderful’ EU but I think to portray the average Scot as a raging pro-EU fanatic is in the realm of delusional/magical thinking.

    After all what if the joining of the Euro was a condition of Scotland joining the EU, or none of the UK opt outs where on the table?

    And the underlying political reality is the we voted for the Union. Yes it hurts like hell but telling ourselves fantastical nonsense that the 55% were all duped by the vow, or whatever (basically “we waz robbed”) fails to face up the the cold hard reality that even the independence lite offered up last time was “too much” for the majority and that probably has not changed in the period since the indy-ref.

    • You need to get your facts right.
      1. 30% of Scots are Eurosceptic. The 30% of the SNP vote that is Eurosceptic is the national average. Whether Tory, Labour, LD or SNP. You need to ‘get that lie off your bus’ that the SNP vote is more Eurosceptic than anybody else’s.
      2. Being forced out of the EU against our wishes by rUK is a ‘material change’ in our relationship with rUK. Therefore it would be morally and politically justifiable to reconsider our relationship with rUK. Whether the SNP will push for another justifiable independence referendum at that point is a choice not a manifesto commitment.
      3. I suspect that the nawbags will just suck it up, both here and in NI and support for indy will not rise on the back of Brexit. There is no amount of masochism the NI yoons will put themselves through just to keep that British passport. In Scotland the nawbags are the feart and the well-heeled. They will suck it up also. The well-heeled because they are alright whatever happens. The feart because they are weak.

  17. I’m a glass half full person. Seize all opportunities, I say. Whatever happens.

    If UK leaves the EU then we must demand our VAT back from the UK Treasury.

    It was EU rules that prevented the devolution of VAT. VAT can’t be collected at regional level according to EU rules, it must be colllected by sovereign states. We will need all our taxes in austerity UK post Brexit. Therefore we should push for the recovery of our VAT.

    It is a more significant revenue stream than income tax.

    Why the heck should our VAT be helping to fund Crossrail?

  18. Brexit looks more likely by the day. Personally don’t believe Cameron could stay on after the vote. So there would be leadershp election and pobrexit caretaker cabinet minister as PM – God forbid Gove.

    Bojo wins – but Bojo now plays his joker.

    Negotiate to get all the concessions from rest of EU who at this point will agree to anything in a bid not to let the edifice crumble.

    Look at what the Bojo can do that Cam couldnt.

    Second EU referendum is won by Bojo for ‘renewing EU’ leaving minority of tory’s apopletic

    Scotland watches and waits.

  19. Don’t know if you’ve seen this yet Derek, but you’re going to want to.


    Camo and the mother of indyref howlers.

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