Thank You, England

I began to feel European in the early nineties when the arguments about the single currency were raging through Westminster and I was flying to Brussels and Strasbourg with other youngish types from Ireland, Denmark or Greece. We got it, were part of it and sat in Kitty O’Shea’s within sight of the Berlaymont with a glass scoffing at live broadcasts from the Commons of plummy MPs demanding freedom from Europe.

Sad, backward, exclusive and borderline racist would be a widely-held view of their antics, like 19th century warmongers voting for full military powers to be given to the East India Company. I liked being Scottish over there because I felt connected to the continent-wide movement that was embracing the old warring nations of Europe and was quite distinct from the faintly detached English journalists with their put downs and comes-as-standard sense of entitlement. We, the Scots that I knew, seemed to be moving with the grain, modernising and opening up to influence and enlightenment. A key difference of course was that we didn’t see the EC as a threat but as an ally and a bridge to prosperity. To anyone schooled in the ways of London, on the other hand, the whole Euro contraption was a vehicle for ludicrous no-hopers trying to catch up with the real global power.

The messages beamed back to Blighty – by, among others, Boris Johnson of the Telegraph – reflected the readers’ own prejudices about foreigners and half-developed civilisations playing at being real countries ‘ like ours’. The officials I knew despaired. The politicians admitted we weren’t really Europeans at all. But I saw how Scotland could fit right into this network of influence and make friends. Spending time with colleagues from every country in the club opened me up to a positive influence which was underlined when reporters from about-to-be entrants Poland and the Baltics showed their amazement at our wealth.

So my starting point for the referendum was Yes. In. Remain. Restez. An exit was the view of the ill-informed and the right wing cranks.

And, frankly, it still is. The right wing cranks are a parade sorts who make me recoil on sight – Redwood, Duncan Smith, Fox, Farage. None of these people has the faintest interest in European solidarity built on workers rights and a work-life balance. They are money spivs, manipulators and exploiters who used the dispossessed to win. Those same dispossessed will now pay the price for the Brexiters’ success.

You aren’t supposed to blame the voters. Always respect them. Don’t patronise. But if you ask just what plumbers in the Midlands or potato pickers in East Anglia are going to get out of this, it’s hard to escape the worry they are the unwitting dupes in a power game.

This referendum had no alternative manifesto. There was no White Paper. The same Unionist politicans and tame journalists who harried the SNP and analysed to death their prospectus in 2014 said nothing about a total absence of a plan. Who supported it? Who in the Commission had hinted at a deal? What’s the timetable for a trade arrangement? How many migrants will be allowed in? We don’t know and neither do the Brexit voters who have supported an emotional idea minus any practical prospectus. Nothing wrong with emotion – I’m a nationalist – but without a plan it’s meaningless and potentially destructive.

A chimera was created in which all the grievances of the dispossessed and disenfranchised were conveniently bundled into a big bag called immigration. Even areas where there is virtually none bought it. This is how you hit back, they were told. Forget the facts and the nuance. Smash the system by kicking the establishment – and replacing it with another establishment which, almost unbelievably, cares even less about you.

What I hate is the idea that all across Europe we are now viewed as xenophobes and quitters regaled by Marine le Pen and Geert Wilders. Instead of quaint, eccentric, one-foot-in, one-foot-out Brits we are now the revolting guests shunned by all.

How refreshing to hear the First Minister pay her respects to our European friends living in Scotland yet denied a vote. Those who don’t want to play the disgusting guest any longer now have the starkest of choices and a way of extricating ourselves from what looks like a brutish rather than a British nationalism.

Without rushing into the teeth of a indyref2, Sturgeon was passionate and, for me, scarily committed to securing our place in Europe to the extent of preparing legislation. Exciting stuff. I know the case in some ways is harder to make for independence now, but as I wrote recently, that overlooks the grim state of Britain after Brexit. We were told Yes meant no EU membership…it meant the national credit rating falling…the currency losing value…shares tumbling…companies relocating…damaging uncertainty. And what have we got?

I think we should remove the claymores from the thatches, make friendly noises to foes, get a plan, breathe some heady air – and prepare for independence. Right now it looks like England may have delivered the opportunity for self-government that Scotland itself couldn’t grasp. Thank you, friends. Thank you.

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42 thoughts on “Thank You, England

  1. douglas clark


    Thanks for that.

    It is odd, is it not, that you could define the Scotland / England border precisely where it is on the basis of the EU referendum result.

    There is a distinct difference between our two nation states. Whether there is enough congruence between the Yes independence vote and the Remain vote has still to be shown, I think.

    Anyway, something positive to read today!

  2. I expect a lot of my fellow Scottish independence supporters to be despondent, but we should be over the moon – Westminster has given the whole circus away.

    A BREXIT is a boon to Scottish independence. A remain vote would have changed precisely nil, nothing, nada, zilch. The independence campaign would have been in the exact same place it was yesterday morning – maintaining a holding pattern at 48% support. But today, another nail has been hammered in the coffin of the Union.

    I’ve made no secret of my desire to leave, and I voted accordingly, but one of the reasons I did so was because I knew it was a free vote. The referendum was won or lost in England. Scotland did not matter. How could it when the UK has one member who makes up 80% of the population.

    I voted to leave the EU, but I’m also a democrat, and nearly 2/3rds of my countrymen and women voted to stay, but will find themselves dragged out against their will.

    As a democrat, and a Scottish independence supporter, that is an unacceptable situation for Scotland…

    • I guess if everyone in Scotland had chosen your line of logic, we’d be sitting here – along with England -having voted to leave the EU? As a result we couldn’t really have argued the case – justifiably – for a second independence referendum.

    • We make friends. Let’s make the Yes Tent bigger.

      I like your positivety.


  3. A Splendid article, Derek and echoes many of my experiences , I spent 17 years working on the Continent and always enjoyed the” bigger stage”.

    I voted Remain as well , but 33 million people voted and 17 million of them wanted out. That’s democracy we will have to see what unfolds.

    Indyref2 , will be fought on completely different ground to ref 1 however.

    Scotland will be wanting to join the “EU” as according to our FM “Scotland gets back more than she puts in “, well the EU has just lost one of her main contributors , that means less in the kitty for them that take out , might cause a tightening of the purse strings somewhere. Indeed an overhaul.
    The EU may react with urgency fearing other nations follow the British lead , this may result in a relaxing of conditions and control , or they may plunge headlong into fuller integration, the longer they delay , more may be persuaded to leave (and every EU ref held anywhere has been close these last 10 years ,)

    So will the EU be amenable to cutting iScotland some slack, or will Edinburgh have the same say in Berlin as Dublin does .

    Will they enforce the Euro , seems strange to exempt Scotland considering its small size and large deficit . will other “small ” countries be sympathetic to Scotland calling the shots ?

    Will a border be needed between Scotland and England . ?
    Non EU citizenry after all . will it be manned and controlled .
    Do other EU countries have lax border controls with EU ones ?

    Will Scots be as keen on Europe if its border with their biggest neighbour and the Euro currency .

    If the UK goes down the Norway , Switzerland route , still paying in to EU , open borders , free trade etc

    Will we notice we are out of the EU ?

    • Are you John Mac Ternan?

    • I didn’t want the euro but sterling doesn’t look like the same strong currency as it did in 2014. It remains to be seen how stable a currency the £ will be.

      We should adopt the stronger currency, whatever. But a monetary union with clowns in charge doesn’t feel very secure to me.

  4. “How refreshing to hear the First Minister pay her respects to our European friends living in Scotland yet denied a vote. Those who don’t want to play the disgusting guest any longer now have the starkest of choices and a way of extricating ourselves from what looks like a brutish rather than a British nationalism.”

    I would echo that, Derek, and I’m sure her words will be replayed on EU screens: it was a great speech and nice to see the saltire beside the EU flag.

    England now appears a nasty, xenophobic country building a giant wall between itself and the continent.

    Not for us, I’m afraid.

    And we’ll said, My Cocaine.

    • @Tinto
      “England now appears a nasty, xenophobic country building a giant wall between itself and the continent.”

      It was 54% to 46% in England , have you just decided today they are all xenophobic , or is the notion more deep rooted ?

      • @Papo, don’t go stirring up something that is not there. The majority in England did vote to leave and the xenophobic comments made in the past weeks and today by those who chose to vote leave have been an eye opener to many of us. So no, not everyone in England is xenophobic, Farage and his followers are and sadly that us what the world sees and has been reporting today – including calling Farage the leader

        • @Fifty Plus , I was quoting from previous post by Tinto .
          My point was with 16 times the popn and overcrowding
          England is perhaps more tolerant of immigration than we are in Scotland .(as we have plenty room ).

    • England is not a nasty , xenophobic country. Only 18 million voted Leave. The rest of the 46 million voted Remain or ‘abstained’ just like the Red Tories do.
      The ‘vast majority’ of the citizens of England are not isolationist xenophobes. Far from it.
      I cede that you postulate with the use of the verb ‘appears’ , Tinto Chiel.
      I worked all over England for decades. It is not a nasty xenophobic country. Well, most of the time.
      The question on the Second Referendum paper?
      ‘Should Scotland be an Independent country and remain a member of the EU?’
      WE must strike while the iron is hot and we are still members of the EU.
      I refuse to give up my EU citizenship

      • The 48% have not taken this lying down. There is now a petition up for a second EU referendum which will need to make a 60% Leave on a 75% turnout. Polly Toynbee noting the need for radical renewal of the political system and lamenting that the electoral system doesn’t allow new parties for new times to gain any traction.

        After all its recent hubris, England is slowly waking up to the deep s**t it is in.

      • Heidstaethefire.

        That’s not a suitable question, Jack, as we would be voting on two propositions on one paper. In any case, over 60% of us have just voted to remain.

  5. “Well” not “we’ll”.

    Damn auto-fill!

  6. douglas clark


    You spell out some of the interesting questions, especially from a UK perspective. I’d have thought that, economically, we are a tad doomed as a UK state by this decision. The desire to go down the economic plug hole appears to be big in our English brethren.

    It is worth noting that some Tories wish us to also give up on the ECHR. And I think, correct me if I am wrong, a certain D Cameron.

    We are exiting what was useful about Europe along with straight banana legislation, a Sun headline I do believe, along with the useful stuff.

    At bottom, my grandfather fought for whatever in WW1, my father fought in WW2, I haven’t had to fight in a war, and neither have my children. So far, neither have my grandchildren. An ‘out’ vote makes that more possible. For Europe has been consistently the cause of ferment, historically speaking.

    Apologies for thinking that the EU has been a good thing, despite it’s faults.

    • Are you saying risk of war is greater now as Europe is the weaker as a result of Brexit ?
      For centuries European history can be summarised by one country or another essaying hegemony , first Spain , the France, then Germany.
      I would argue the catalyst for German unification was Napoleon treating the Germanic states as a punch bag.a training ground for his armies.
      And as Bismarck dished out bloody noses to to those that stood in his way, France sought revenge and allies.
      Germany felt surrounded so prepared a couterblow , and WW1 followed .
      WW2 was the second part .

      Its when nations subsumed national interests that Europe enjoyed peace , when the great rivalries.turned into trade deals .

      i voted remain and would agree the EU has grown too large and unwieldy . we will see in the next few months if it bends with the storm.

  7. Antoine Bisset

    This article entirely misses the point. Feeling good is not a factor that should determine things, especially if it has been brought on by drinking alcohol with chums. We traded with Europe long long before the EU existed and there were times when England tried to put the blocks on it. More recently, Scottish interests have been traded away for concessions closer to English requirements. More significantly, the EU has tightened its administrative and legislative grip and has condoned the madness of Merkel.
    We are better out. The voting pattern has provided the trigger for Indie2 just as I predicted last year. However, by the time independence is attained there will no longer be an EU as the French, Dutch and Danes will be looking to board the last train out.
    Trade will continue unabated, TIPP will be tipped, and we will expand elsewhere. EU nationals living and working here will stay. It is all good.

    • That’s kind of what I think Antoine .

      • douglas clark

        Well the wee neo-con love in between Papko and Antoine is there for all to see,

        Quite what degree of adjustment do either of you expect it to take to stand alone? Vaguely positive, none at all, vaguely negative or a disaster?

        No? Not willing to answer or about to dissemble as most folk do? It will just be good, won’t it? The financial sector will not ever consider whether Europe is a larger market than England? Of course not, the mere thought. Heavens!

        We traded with Europe long long before the EU existed and there were times when England tried to put the blocks on it.

        True. You do realize what you have just said

        The voting pattern has provided the trigger for Indie2 just as I predicted last year.

        What voting pattern that you predicted last year. You sound like the
        Brahan Seer. Give me the winner of Euro 2016 right now!

        However, by the time independence is attained there will no longer be an EU as the French, Dutch and Danes will be looking to board the last train out.

        Wanna bet!

        Trade will continue unabated, TIPP will be tipped, and we will expand elsewhere. EU nationals living and working here will stay. It is all good.

        What does TIPP will be tipped even mean? It will be overturned perhaps? Why would anyone think that a separate state, the UK, would have a cat in hell’s chance against USA interests?

        The EU might. It is not a given, but there was the potential for opt out clauses about medicine, I cannot see the beloved Boris standing up for that.

        Wonderful optomism by neo-cons. Just what we need.

        • Antoine Bisset

          Maybe you should just hide under the blankets. There will be plenty of company, it seems. Nobody said it would be easy, but we are not feart.
          The balance of power has shifted. It is now with the UK. The bullies did their worst and were put on their back. We hold the whip hand.
          Because companies like Volkswagen will change the government of Germany before they will give up the British market.

          • I think you to check yourself back in man. We ‘hold the whip hand’, you are delusional. That is one of the most arrogant things I have read today and that is saying something. Sums up everything i dislike about little englanders and reminds why I voted yes the last time and why I shall not hesitate to do the same next time.

          • douglas clark


            Because companies like Volkswagen will change the government of Germany before they will give up the British market.

            Are you completely certain, y’know beyond a politician’s certainty, about that? I.e noy at all.

            I can see why a company might care about a right handed market if it has easy access, not so much if the access is, well, made more difficult.

            There are not a lot of countries that drive on the correct side of the road!

    • Can I ask, where are we going to expand ? China , Saudi ? You have heard of BRICS ? You know the one where some experts estimate their collective ‘bank’ will be challenging if not out stripping our usual suspects by 2021?

      If anything the EU will need to reappraise as the challenges increase?
      Plus what is it we’re going to trade with ? Arms? Financial services?

      Travel anywhere else but Britain and the first port of call for the Daily news isn’t Good Morning Britain, it’s what’s happening in the markets in Asia.
      There’s a dynamism , a young , well educated workforce who not only don’t need the Old Boys club tie to fit in , trade, they’ve actively set up clubs to ‘ network ‘ via social media. They up sticks and jet in to HK, Dubai etc just to do exactly that.

      Despite the fodder we are fed London is not the centre of the universe and as night follows day , the money men ( who threatened to leave ) will follow the money anyway.

      Germany has been out protesting against TTIP and getting the message out but tell me , how will The Daily Mail ( or Sun or Telegraph) cover that one ? Billionaire media mogul declares his paper must inform the public about TTIP or CETA , c’mon some beauty queen slept with someone on TV that’s the information the public are fed.
      Otherwise explain why the second most common question searched through Google today was ” what is the EU?”.

      For a campaign to be able to sustain the lie for at least six weeks that by voting out your saving the NHS without a serious challenge must make you question the effectiveness of our media propaganda? My God even folk in Scotland were quoting it!

      As for EU nationals staying, have you read any of their stories as to how they have been treated during this campaign? Pictures of tanks, Hitler etc being sent to them. To people who were not only not born during the last war but were toddlers when their country reunified. Why would they stay ? They have an excellent university system at home without the fear and hate. In fact they have apprenticships that even ‘British’ people can apply too, imagine that ?

      This whole referendum has been a bonfire of the vanities and once more while our media naval gaze over Westminster , the rest of the World moves on.

  8. douglas clark

    Oh! Donald Trump has landed. I am astonished that you have the time to post!

    • @Douglas

      I voted to remain , but see the positives for being out as well

      “Quite what degree of adjustment do either of you expect it to take to stand alone? Vaguely positive, none at all, vaguely negative or a disaster?”

      I don’t understand what that means

      The reason for Out IMHO, as England voted 54-46 , is the popn pressure on them , they have a bit more land but 16 times the popn we do in Scotland .
      They see there public service eroded and their living standards decline , and the blame lies (wrongly ) with the EU

      I think an accommodation will be reached, there are 500 million people involved now, urgency is pressing.

      • douglas clark


        It was supposed to be a series of options, like in a questionnaire. It obviously didn’t work.

        I’ll try again:

        With Brexit being the de facto position of the UK, do you think the UK will financially be:

        a) Much better off

        b) Neutral

        c) Slightly better off

        d) disastrous.

        Your call.

  9. douglas clark


    Seriously, what do you think?

    • @Douglas , I think it will be pretty disastrous initially but nothing last forever , and it may be the cold shock therapy . the UK needs .
      (I voted remain , and am disappointed , just trying to see upsides and accept the democratic will of the people )

      It will be bad for the EU too,a net contributor has gone , with a large trade deficit to them.

      A deal will have to be made .

      I would wager that Free trade and open-ish borders will be central to that deal

      I would hate to be a MED EU country with massive youth unemployment , shackled to a EURO , with no way to break the lock .

  10. Good post Derek and couldn’t agree more.

    The threat of EU exit. One of and indeed the last of BTs keystone pledges bites the dust.

    21 months, one GE, one SE, one referendum and one runaway narrative later… UK society, economy and politics in free fall.

    Spectacular, even by Westminster standards.

    • So much for Cameron’s legacy: “The man who saved the Union (for less than 2 years) then lost 2 in the same day.

      Oh, and apparently he stuck his dick in a deid pig’s mooth”.


  11. Many thanks for this, Derek, another excellent piece.

    The London-centric British establishment have succeeded in screening the reality of Scotland from the world, with their catch all England/Britain/UK narrative.

    I once met two German tourists in the Highlands, surprised at the Scotland they discovered, as they had believed the country was confined to Orkney and Shetland.

    A New York taxi driver, confused by maps seen as a child with ‘England’ written from Lands End to John ‘o’ Groats, was full of unnecessary apologies when I explained to him that Scotland covered more than the Outer Hebrides.

    No more. Scotland lit herself up like a beacon on Thursday, telling the world not only where we are, but who we are. An outward looking people, eager to engage with the 21st century world, in stark contrast to the reactionary forces devouring our Southern neighbour.

    A speedy resolution to Scotland’s EU membership will help, but it is also an opportune moment to approach the credit agencies, in order to request an assessment of a future independent Scotland’s credit rating. An assessment which will surely be higher than England’s.

    The sight of the English/British establishment eating itself alive these past months has been an unedifying sight, but we all know they will unite in the only common cause they have, which is keeping Scotland in harness.

    There will be no love-bombing this time, as they have nothing to offer.

    Instead we can expect Project Fear 2, which may make the first seem tame in comparison.

    The London establishment’s desperation may boil over into a more overtly aggressive stance, but the tighter they pull the traces, the more likely we will shake off their yoke, as the world sees our ‘union’ for what it really is.

    We were threatened with chaos and penury last time.

    Hopefully subsequent events have convinced NO voters that the only safe and secure option IS independence.

  12. VikkingsDottir

    I am thanking England, Derek, for a bit of common sense that seems to be lacking up here, apart from the folk that had the sense to vote Leave. ‘Right wing crank?’ I can add that to the list of other ‘perceptions’ of all the elites, alongside all the ‘..ists’ and ‘obics.’ They are making it very clear, at the moment, that they really look down on the common people, and don’t consider them capable of casting a vote unless it is based on ‘racist,’ that over used and devalued word, or ‘thick,’ and yes, I have heard that one used more than once in the past few days, or more kindly, ‘uninformed’ ideas. All this shows up is that the class divide is still alive and well in this ‘open and diverse’ society. As for Scotland ‘remaining’ in the EU, you couldn’t make it up. Barrosso said that it would be ‘impossible’ for Scotland to join the EU. I believe him. We don’t have a central bank. That’s the reason. The last thing I want is dragged back into the EU against my will.
    MBC. It is mandatory for accession states to adopt the Euro.
    Jack. Scotland is not a member state of the EU.

    • Neil Anderson

      Ah, VikingsDottir, that’ll be the common sense that Scotland showed when it fell for all the lies it was fed during the Independence vote eh? And we know how that’s turned out. The majority of Scotland voted to stay in the EU, by a larger margin than voted to stay in the UK. If the last thing you want is dragged back into the EU, I’d say you have a number of options.

  13. It remains to be seen the timelines and content of the Exit negotiations and the potential IndyRef2 which most of us now hope for but with the decision taken to Leave I am strongly of the opinion that within Scotland the pro Independence camp now need to define themselves clearly as either Remain or Leave.

    We cannot realistically expect the exisiting EU members to co-operate and assist Scotland to remain within the EU like some Trojan horse only to spring another Leave decision on them at a time we think appropriate.

    Those like Jim Sillars who view an exit from the EU as a red line issue should consider forming their own party. Prior to the June 23rd result it may have been possible for them to work within the SNP but in the current circumstances the SNP, as our party of government, cannot afford to be undermined so regularly from within by suppose party stalwarts.

    People who have previously been reluctant to consider Independence for Scotland should not be swayed to our cause on the basis of a belief that in so doing they will retain EU membership only for Leave proponents to set them back yet again.

    Nor can we expect attract the necessary finance and business acumen if we are going to become little Scotlanders as opposed to little Englanders.

    Let us at least start again from positions of relative honesty.

  14. DomesticExtremist

    I think you may be deluding yourself in viewing the Brexit result and your Europhilia only through the lens of how it might help you in your struggle for independence (which I support BTW).
    Don’t forget the EU was terribly unkind to the Indy cause during indyref1, siding entirely with Camerlot’s government and making it clear that EU membership for an independent Scotland was by no means a given.

  15. douglas clark

    I kind of assume that Nicola Sturgeon is a democrat, first and foremost. That might be naive, a bit
    too far,

    However , she has given me no reason to doubt it.

    As we are looking at two thirds stay and one third leave, then she has to pursue that mandate. The Scottish government has to reflect the views of the Scottish people, else it is toast.

  16. Rejoice! The so-called united kingdom is in its final throes. An independent Scotland will deal with the EU later.

  17. Robert Graham

    Derek- Derek wakey wakey where are you when we need you come on get off yer arse ha ha .

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