Think About It

As you know, I’m forever reading beyond my intellectual status. This piece from the London School of Economics is interesting in that it may be discussed as a possible way forward in coming months. So you’ve time to think about it. I give my own detailed opinion at the end*

Current public discussions about how the UK is to leave the European Union have been too simplified, and have failed to come up with any solution that recognises that only England and Wales voted to leave. Brendan O’Leary outlines a way forward that might enable those nations of the UK that want to remain in the EU to do so.

There has as yet been no Brexit, and there will not be – because there is no such entity as ‘Britain,’ except as inaccurate shorthand for the multi-national state of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. There could, however, be a UKEXIT. But those who insist that a 52-48 vote is good enough to take the entire UK out of the EU would trigger a serious legitimacy crisis.

England and Wales have voted to leave the European Union, but Scotland, Northern Ireland and Gibraltar have voted to remain. These differing outcomes have to be the central focus of political attention while we wait for the debris of broken expectations to settle in the Westminster parliament, among the UK’s allies, and across beached migrants and expatriates. The resolution of leadership crises in the Conservative and Labour parties will proceed amid the shocks reverberating around the world.

There is a constitutional compromise that would avoid the genuine prospect that a referendum on Scottish independence, promoted by the SNP and the Green Party, will lead to the break-up of the union of Great Britain. The Scots have every right to hold such a referendum, because the terms specified in the SNP’s election manifesto have been met—namely a major material change in circumstances.

The same constitutional compromise could diminish the likelihood of turbulence spilling into Northern Ireland, and destabilising its union with Great Britain. The same day that Nicola Sturgeon publicly indicated preparations for a second Scottish referendum, the Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, Martin McGuinness of Sinn Féin, demanded that a poll be held, as is possible by law, to enable Irish reunification. Sinn Féin has a point. Many in Northern Ireland fear that a UK exit would restore a hard border across Ireland, and strip away core European components of the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. Does the narrow outcome of a UK-wide referendum automatically over-ride the terms of the Ireland-wide referendums of 1998, and a majority within Northern Ireland? Good Friday should not be superseded by Black Friday. It would be perfectly proper to call for a border poll to give people the option of remaining within the EU through Irish reunification—especially if there is no alternative that respects the clear local majority preference to remain within the EU in Northern Ireland. But there is such an alternative.

The very same compromise may also weaken the pressure from the Spanish government for the UK to cede sovereignty over Gibraltar.

This compromise would build on the idea that each mandate in each territory should be respected, but without breaking up the United Kingdom, or Gibraltar’s ties to the UK.

England and Wales move outside the EU, but Scotland and Northern Ireland stay within it

The compromise would be that the bulk of the UK would be outside—‘externally associated’ perhaps—and some of it inside the EU. This change would reflect the fact that the UK is composed of two unions, that of Great Britain, and that of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and that in each of the two unions one partner has clearly expressed the desire to remain within the EU. All four mandates within the UK would be respected in what was an advisory referendum.

Is this feasible? Recall first that many UK dependencies—including three members of the British-Irish Council, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man—are currently not part of the European Union. So it’s already true that sovereign states, including the UK, have parts of their territories subject to their sovereignty within the European Union, and parts of them outside. The terms of the foundational treaty, the Treaty of Rome, also envisioned associate status — they were designed for the UK.

Then consider past precedent. Greenland, part of Denmark, seceded from the EEC, but Denmark remained within the EEC. That, of course, had few consequences for power within the European Union given Greenland’s small population, and the components of the UK that remain within the EU would not be entitled to the same rights that currently are held by the UK as a whole.

Now consider politics going forward. Negotiating UKEXIT is not going to be easy for the next Prime Minister and Cabinet—indeed the difficulties may precipitate a re-alignment of party politics and a general election.

The Westminster parliament must give effect to the advisory referendum, and it will have to deliberate over the consequences of imposing an EU departure against the majority will of Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The consensual solution would be to negotiate for the secession of England and Wales from the EU, but to allow Scotland and Northern Ireland to remain—with MEPs, but without representation on the Council of Ministers, though with the right to have a single shared commissioner.

To work this compromise requires part of the UK to remain within the EU and that would require representation for the two components that remain inside the EU’s institutions—and the UK’s overall consent for the same. Retaining MEPs in Scotland and Northern Ireland would be easy. They would be numbered as currently, proportional to population, and this would have no major implications for the big states.

But London ministers could not retain power in the Council of Ministers if the bulk of the UK is outside the EU. I suggest that the now vacated UK Commissioner’s role could be kept, but the appointment could be rotated between Scotland and Northern Ireland, in a 3: 1 ratio over time, reflecting Scotland’s greater population. The Commissioner would be nominated by the relevant government and appointed by the UK government. (A judge to serve in the European Court of Justice could be nominated in the same way.) The retention of one Commissioner and their MEPs would give Scotland and Northern Ireland a say in agenda-setting and in law-making. And it would remove any UK ministerial veto over EU decision-making.

The future role of the Westminster parliament would be to process EU law that applies to Northern Ireland and Scotland—strictly as an input-output machine—thereby ensuring that Scotland and Northern Ireland have the same EU law, and that the Union is retained. It would be up to Westminster to decide which components of EU law they applied to England and Wales—a convenience that may be helpful in dealing with the repercussions of what has just occurred.

The currency is a reserved Crown power, and the proposed compromise would not lock Scotland and Northern Ireland into the Eurozone. Rather as part of the UK, Scotland and Northern should inherit the entire UK’s position under the Maastricht treaty (namely, they would stay with sterling unless the UK let them go into the Euro). However, Scotland and Northern Ireland would not be able to apply the new terms that Prime Minister recently Cameron negotiated on the supposition that all of the UK would remain in the European Union.

All of Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales would be an internal passport free-zone. However, one negative consequence of this compromise would be a hard customs border in the Irish Sea. But that, I think, would be better than one across the land-mass of Ireland.

Another effect would be a hard customs border between Scotland and England. If all of Ireland and Scotland remain in the EU there cannot be a single market in the UK, as defined by the EU, and therefore a customs barrier will have to exist. But note that a hard customs border will materialise in any case if a Scottish referendum led to independence.

Ireland, North and South, and Scotland could not join the Schengen agreement because that would mean that England and Wales would lose the control over immigration which was emphasised by the leave side in the referendum. But then, they are not part of Schengen at present, and there is no evidence that a majority in any of the three countries wants to be.

Would there be any other benefits to this idea, aside from keeping the UK together, which Unionists of all stripes say they want? Yes, UK enterprises could re-locate to EU zones within the UK, which would soften the negative consequences of an entire UKEXIT. These arrangements would leave England and Wales to experiment with whatever policy freedoms they preferred.

Citizenship and migration-law, would have to be reconsidered, but the ensuing difficulties could be negotiated. These matters will be on the table anyway.

(See the full article here

*Wouldn’t it be easier just to go for independence?

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47 thoughts on “Think About It

  1. Jimmy The Pict

    Yes. It would be easier.

  2. Heather McLean

    Yes! Easier and desirable!

  3. Derek, I got about half way through and I was thinking precisely the same thing – let’s not get ourselves into some kind of bizarre, constitutional half way house which would probably break down in a few years in any case. It’s like the limbo state of more devolution and more powers – it starts to get so complicated so quickly that it becomes very difficult to know who’s ultimately responsible for what. Time to make the clean break.

  4. Ok, I’ve thought about it and the LSE proposes a greater clusterf*ck than the present situation or a future that includes Scottish independence. Basically they are suggesting putting up those hard customs borders, lesser influence in the EU than as an independent state and all corporation tax from companies that want to relocate to a Scotland in the EU continues to go to Westminster.

    Best of both worlds for Westminster and even England but the worst of both for Scotland. I’m not surprised it was suggested by the LONDON School of Economics – another example of London looking after itself at someone else’s expense.

  5. Get your wee black books give them to as many people as possible without shoving them down peoples throats. Attend independence rallies and contact your local SNP office or nearest yes friendly affiliate. Let’s not be over powering but let the SG and the UKG know this is a step to far and we want another Indy ref soon as possible because we are in a much stronger position than before, all they have left is to plead for the love of grande Brittania and Iv got a feeling that outside of the orange order that feeling ain’t so strong. Never mind trying to tie ourselves in knots Indy is easier and more attractive. Let us now be the country that we always wanted to be

  6. Good to see you back , If it wasn’t so serious this farce would be laughable , A simple , as in total Independence solution usually works best complications just confuse as in the Scottish Parlment voting system keep it simple and workable method will be found .
    Bypassing Westmonster has wrong footed the establishment and has invited them indeed provoked them into a fight on Two fronts , the BBC as usual are twisting our first ministers statements for their own ends this being to stir up resentment from the English people at a time when they really need to calm down .
    This constant Sturgeon threatens “…………” Is being repudiated by The SNP on an hourly basis after the Death on the English MP this rhetoric indeed threatens the safety and security of Nicola Sturgeon and needs to be stopped in its tracks .

    • Alisdair Mclean

      I think it is machiavellian. There would be too many opportunities for renaging on promises from Westminster and manipulation of economies from head offices in London. Surely we should have our own head offices in Scotland. I believe that the implementation of such an apparently (at first sight) attractive plan would have the effect of delaying the inevitable independence for Scotland and I have waited too long for that. In other words in the longer term it would be simpler to go for the main prize and not be led down any cul-de-sacs. However, there are elements of the plan e.g. Greenland and Denmark that could be used to help in the pursuit of the ultimate goal. Let’s not take our eyes off that goal.

    • Robert – exactly so. The BBC should hang its head in shame for some of the irresponsible headlining which is picked up and twisted further by the (mainly but not exclusively) tabloid press.
      I do hope she has an efficient security detail.

      • Indeed they should. The spin put on the interview with Nicola Sturgeon and Gordon Brewer ( block as opposed to withdraw consent) resulted in a vitriolic email from a friend down south being fed BBC Scotlands twisted agenda.
        Prof Bell on tonight talking about having to use the Euro
        BBC Scotlands news team really need to take a good long look at what they are doing. There is high stakes involved for everyone.
        If BBC Scotland can’t up its game ( how long have the public being saying this) leave, resign or at least stop calling yourselves BBC ‘Scotlands news’.
        It desperately needs a new approach and new presenters
        The public deserve better

  7. “Another effect would be a hard customs border between Scotland and England. If all of Ireland and Scotland remain in the EU there cannot be a single market in the UK, as defined by the EU, and therefore a customs barrier will have to exist. But note that a hard customs border will materialise in any case if a Scottish referendum led to independence.”

    Crucial point there , a hard border with our biggest trading partner , against a louder voice in Berlin .

    I don’t profess to be an expert in realpolitik,The reason the UK cut such a good deal with the EU, and obtained so many exemptions , was not based on her”green energy credentials ” , but the fact she is the second largest economy in the Euro zone with a 65 million popn and a net contributor .

    Either Germany takes up the slack and puts more in , or the other contributors do,and they go full pelt for integration .

    Which strikes me as odd that they play hardball with the ruk , but softball with NI and iScotland .

    Or the EU steps back, and confines itself to the single market and the open borders.

    with substantial “xenophobic” votes in all the contributor countries, like France, Holland , etc , the EU must also tread carefully .

    • Do we really care if goods come from england or continental Europe? In fact if they come by sea directly into Scotland we cut out the middleman – England. More work for our ports.

  8. So this “plan” would leave the Scottish economy still under Westminster at the end of the day. Allowing the plundering of Scotland to continue. If we made profits from the EU, how would these profits be appropriated? Do not forget, there are around 60 million down south, they will always want their tacky fingers on what is ours. What about all the sneaky ways they rob Scotland to their benefit, will all that continue.

    No answers to any of that, things that are paramount to us.

    What about Trident? What about involving us in wars we do not want? Would they still subject Scotland to austerity budgets despite what we earn from any source?

    They can go stick this idea where the sun don’t shine.

  9. It sounds undoable because of the laws if Scotland and Ireland remain in the EU and in the uk Union. Laws regarding such things as benefits that are decide at Westminster level are uk wide but if EU law states that some law are illegal or unworkable under EU law where will that leave Scotland and Northern Ireland.

    What will happen in Scotland if they do remain part of both unions will there be 3 sets of laws to follow and which ones would we have to follow at the end of the day.

    How will Scotland’s budget be worked out as it stands we get a population percentage share of whatever England spends so if they decide to abandon an national health service they we won’t receive a penny for ours will the EU have to approached to slog it out with Westminster and the final say rest with them or will the UK government have the final say and Scotland will just have to lump it.

    There are so many things that have to be considered and 3 sets of law that are at odds with each other seems unworkable. What about Scotland’s financial situation will we still be required to hand over all our money to Westminster and be handed pocket money back and will that pocket money include a payment for the EU.

    Sorry but there is just to much uncertainty in this scenario and it could take a long time to hammer out. And we have to bear in mind that the people of England and Wales voted to leave the EU so they wouldn’t take kindly to their country still being dictated to by the EU and could cause much more hatred against the Scots, after all they really do believe that they subsidies us as is and that would just be a step too far. Can you imagine the English and Welsh who took their country back being left with a situation where they are going through brutal austerity and tax increases and they see that Scotland isn’t going through the same financial hardship.

  10. Pig in a poke offers dead pig in a plastic bag.

    All of the problems would remain. UK government that ignores Scotland and doles out pocket money. Labour laws split would mean businesses would have to be in England to work over the whole UK.

    Ugh – its actually uglier than sin, because it identifies division but glues it together with weaker ties, while maintaining Westminster control. Barnett? ‘Sovreignty’? EVEL? Oh FFS.

    Seriously, Scotland needs to get out now. The bozos in London blew the UK up, and are now trying to stick it together with a dog turd of titanic proportions.

  11. Alastair Wright

    Seriously? Do these people not understand what is actually unfolding here? I’m sitting in Greece watching it and can see that the only thing that wil work is Scotland becoming independent. What do these London clowns keep trying to fudge in order to retain power? They can GTF!

  12. Yes, independence is much simpler than the highly convoluted article above.

  13. A very interesting post, as usual, Derek

    Just hang on a moment,though, everyone who sees this as a London-centric idea.

    Here’s a thought. There’s our ultimate goal, and there’s the tactics needed to get there. We’ve a lot of obstacles in the path to independence, not least Westminster politicians and many NO voters in Scotland. So were we to say, yes to this interesting idea, let’s look at it in a spirit of fairness and collaboration, the politicos would have to say ok. But indeed what an addition to the Clusterf**k that would be! Totally messing up negotiations, trade, their own attempts to re-group, etc etc. It would be easier to have us go altogether.

    As for the folk in Northern Ireland, with Ian Paisley Jnr urging his (Unionist) constituents to get Irish passports, I can’t see how the current status will endure.

    And by the way, I’m not sure that someone with a name like Brendan O’Leary will have a totally London-focussed agenda. Could be wrong.

  14. Thought about it for a split second and rejected it!

  15. Gavin.C.Barrie

    Commissioner and judge to be appointed – by a country outwith the EU – eh?

    Scottish exports destined for Europe depart via English ports. So goods would leave the EU (Scotland) enter England, then re-enter EU at EU ports?

    Non-EU military presence in Scotland? – Trident removal is a must in my list of wishes.

    An exercise in how to minimise Brexit consequentials, for England.

    Arab saying: Better to have an Englishman as an enemy than a friend. As an enemy he will try to bribe you, as a friend he will try to sell you.

    Independence for me, no strings attached.

  16. Yep! Game over. Independence for me too.

  17. OMFG! I reckon your detailed notes at the end nailed it Derek.

    As if the current Gordian knot isn’t bad enough, that wee addition has clusterf**k Mk2 written all over it. It takes no account of the current change in political attitudes and societal stresses whatsoever. Its simply some bod saying ‘What if we try this’? A mental exercise in whataboutery gone wrong.

    So yeah, independence would be much simpler. 🙂

  18. How much would this plan depend on the rUK negotiating in good faith? Because as far as I am concerned, they don’t, and never have, and expecting them to do so now, especially when they find themselves in such extremely dire straits, is basically insane.

  19. This was a no-brainer, Derek. If you wish to promote these Westminster – centric ideas, then just say so. If you are not promoting them, why include them in your blog. Very disappointing indeed.

  20. Sorry to comment after a skim-read on my way out, but what of passports? Would there have to be separate Scottish and N. Irish passports since we don’t have ID cards or such?

  21. Alasdair Macdonald.

    Post EU Referendum, things are fluid, chaotic and changing by the hour. It could be said, plausibly, that we are in a ‘revolutionary situation’, not a shooting and rioting one, but one, nevertheless, in which a cadre within the ‘Brexit group’ have overthrown the elected government and are seeking to take control. The elected government and the associated establishment are in a state of panic and are seeking to hold things together long enough to salvage some of their power and influence. However, the situation was facilitated by large numbers of people who traditionally voted Labour and who have either been impoverished or fear their children will be and have taken the opportunity of the referendum and passed a vote of no confidence in the economic and political system that has obtained since the 1970s. They are saying ‘a plague on all your houses (especially the property market), we want power and wealth redistributed.’ Many of them might not have articulated that yet, nor are clear about what they want, other than things to be different. So, helping them to clarify things and be creative about the opportunities is crucial. The lunacy of Labour’s coup against Mr Corbyn, removes them from any helpful role and this creates an opportunity for UKIP to shape things after a likely General Election.

    One of the functions of academics is to think the unthinkable and to speculate about possible scenarios. Some aspects of some of these scenarios might help to give some clarity to some people. The LSE group are not really speaking to Mr Bateman or to the bulk of the commenters here. There are swathes of people across Great Britain and Northern Ireland who are seeking to make sense of things and, sometimes, intermediate solutions such as that being put forward can help people work through change.

    While we in Scotland have for many years now, been speculating about how we achieve independence or greater devolution and the people of Northern Ireland have suffered decades of violence and murder in addition to such speculations, these kinds of things have not been going on in England and Wales. The people to whom I referred who have tipped the balance, would, in years passed have had institutions like trade unions, the Labour Party and, indeed, nonconformist churches in which they could engage in discussion have not had that kind of discourse. Similarly, there are comfortably off people in England and Wales who, because of their comfort, have ceased to think deeply about issues of governance. It is for these people that articles like the LSE one are needed.

    I am not saying that what is being proposed is particularly attractive to me (‘YES’ and ‘Remain’), but, we need such thinking to move beyond the academics and into the general discourse to transcend the narrow corset of the press and main broadcast media.

  22. douglas clark

    Have read the opinion piece and the comments.

    It seems to me that independence for Scotland would be a good thing on it’s own. Perhaps that is selfish, but, there you go.

  23. More questions than answers
    More problems than solutions

  24. Gavin.C.Barrie

    @ manandboy – I don’t believe Derek is promoting the chicanery of the article, he’s informing us on Establishment musings on what’s best for them. Rules, principles, integrity all can be strewn to the wind if needed. It is considered “fair play,” – for them.

  25. A member of the EU without representation on the Council of Ministers and still have to kow tow to Westminster. It’s independence or zilch for Scotland unless NS can agree a decent accommodation with the EU. The hard border is something we didn’t envisage, but, how hard that would be would also depend on whatever association Westminster has for the fUK with the EU.

  26. What the LSE author believes is a great idea merely underlines the thinking that Scotland is owned by England. It has England still saying what we can and cannot have and do. Why should England which voted to leave retain a straightjacket around us when we voted to remain? No thanks.

    “the components of the UK that remain within the EU would not be entitled to the same rights that currently are held by the UK as a whole.”

    Why not? After all it’s England that wants to leave, not us. We should not be penalised by England’s actions so we should inherit what was secured in previous years in our name as well all the other parts of the UK. The article talks about partners yet goes on to make clear that England (outwith the EU) will still rule over us, rather than us (within the EU) dealing with EU matters ourselves. This is nothing more than a convoluted nightmare to save England’s face and economy.

    “However, Scotland and Northern Ireland would not be able to apply the new terms that Prime Minister recently Cameron negotiated on the supposition that all of the UK would remain in the European Union.”

    It’s my understanding that the concessions offered in February to David Cameron have already been withdrawn, so nothing there for Scotland anyway.

    I’m with Nicola on this.

  27. This is a complete and utter shambles of an idea, so it’s no surprise to see that Scottish Labour are supporting it.

  28. I agree that independence is the best thing.

    A couple of points however. Isle of Man and Channel Islands are not in the EU, but as crown dependencies they get access to the single market by having customs unions with the UK. Both however, have full fiscal autonomy. We were denied that “devo max” despite the false promise. If the plan suggested were to fly at all I would think the same arrangements would be necessary for Scotland & NI. But they had their chance.

    My understanding is that Eire is not in Schengen because the open border with the North is perceived to be more desirable for the Republic. If Scotland gets a hard border then we would be free presumably to enter the Schengen arrangement. I for one care more for the convenience of not having passport control than I do for the threat of immigrants entering England. Further, if goods are to be routinely examined it may prove worthwhile for exporters to just send their goods to the continent by ferry from Scots ports. I would have thought the EU would be keen to support transport links between member states which bypassed non member’s ports.

  29. This Article leaves me bamboozled. Independence is what we want. Why go through all these contortions to find a way to remain in both the UK and Europe when we want out of the UK? We want independence. Now is the time to strike for it.

  30. That article was rather similar to our average ‘Sensational News Headline’,… Inasmuch as you’re compelled to read the entire article, thinking, ‘it’s just about to become really interesting any minute now’,… But – like SO often – it’s not until you reach the final paragraph [or very last line].. that you realize you’d just trawled all the way through that labyrinthine suggestion before reaching what you always thought anyway: *Wouldn’t it be easier just to go for independence?”

  31. Ehh, as better together put it in their greatest hits, lets say NO THANKS to that.

  32. Independence (or, rather, re-independence) not only easier compared to this dog’s dinner, but, fundamentally, more principled.

    Apologies if O/T, but is the LSE thinking of doing an HSBC style flit?

    The latter, purportedly, off to the fleshpots of Paris.

    Given this, may I suggest to the waggish “scholars” who cobbled together this a la carte pile of left-overs, that they, in turn, consider a runner to Lundinlinks? It would be a seamless transition although the fleshpot dimension might prove a tad more limited even if as earthy and enthusiastic.

    FFS, the Lundinlinks School of Economics! What’s not to like, faculty?

  33. what arrogant tosh.
    Independence ; no more, no less.

  34. The simplest solution would be for England & Wales to declare themselves independent of the UK?

  35. The LSE proposal is an attempt to keep everyone happy, but will end up keeping nobody happy. The complexity of managing it just isn’t workable. The vote in England was to leave, and they are not going to enjoy a half solution. In Scotland we’re disgusted with the politicians who created this mess, and we’re looking at the Scottish government and seeing that actually, yes, we can govern ourselves and have our own foreign affairs. We are not going to be happy to keep that lot after this. I don’t know how the Irish feel, nor do I know what Gibraltar’s future is, but it seems clear to me after what happened in the Europarl today (standing ovation) that Scotland could have a quick clean separation with no hard feelings and forge our own destiny. And be good neighbours, but not subjects.

  36. I did laugh at the convoluted thoughts of the LSE scholars, and have to say that Independence is the only way to go.

    LSE working for Tories? I smell panic. 🙂

  37. It will never happen simply because the EU will need to be seen as strong and unified, a ‘compromise’ would allow regions of other states to seek compromises, legally, to free themselves from the parent EU member. In time it would weaken the EU and lead to fragmentation.

    It has to be independence or forever stuck outside the EU and in a zombie UK.

  38. Sandra Bothwell

    I don’t think NS could have played it any other way – but I don’t think independance has to be the “immediate” end game

    let face it – UK are going to really want some deal with the EU

    and that deal might come very close to actually being in the EU – and be perfectly acceptable to all in the UK

    But NS had to find some way to make the assets of Scotland valuable in any deal

    ie fishing grounds

    She just did – they can’t be used as any part of EU deal unless scotland gets something for it and agrees to it

    All powers moved up to scotland maybe! – would anyone object to a federal arrangement where both parts are free to try different paths – do we think Boris (or whoever) would care when he’s desperate to strike a deal

    He will be a man walking a tightrope between those that voted leave and the money men who need free trade and workers to earn that money – it will be a very very thin rope 🙂

    End result being

    all UK gets a deal that’s 80-90% in EU 10-20% out (what ever that looks like)

    From the noise being made the day after the vote UK can’t/isn’t really looking to reduce immigration by much anyway so a middle ground could be found for us who were happy in the EU

    we get full powers – keep the pound – get a 80-90% in the EU deal

    Now scotland’s assets can’t be given away by a westminster government which is exactly what they would have done (I believe fishing and our farming levies from EU have been sacrificed in the past for deal sweeteners?) because they are no use with the threat that they might not be westminster’s in 2 years time.

    I think NS played a Blinder that gives us power and choices

  39. Don’t forget the number one priority for the UK government is to preserve free trade after Brexit – all this constitutional stuff comes second. Brussels have already said point blank nothing is on the table, and no discussions will be held until Article 50 is triggered. So the Brexiteers have effectively been ‘checkmated’ by the EU. It has been made clear time and time again that there will be no free trade without free movement. Period.

    If UK parliament does trigger Article 50, they will have next to no negotiating clout whatsoever (and all of the UK’s favours have been used up a long time ago), so if they want to retain membership of the EEA at the very least, then they will have to renege on free movement. Bang – there goes the main aim of Brexit – eliminating EU immigration – up the spout. There is also the theory now that the fall back situation: “oh well we still have the WTO trade agreements to fall back on”, but these too may be rendered null and void if we Brexit because of their connection to the EU common market. Oops!

    In short I think there is a very serious chance that when the Brexiteers see the full gravity of what they are trying to do (they already are with the economy crashing around them), and the fact that Article 50 only gives two years to untangle the legal quagmire of 40 years worth of treaties and agreements leads me to believe that Brexit may never happen anyway.

    Sorry if this sounds cynical, and I AM a proud Yesser, and I am aching for another chance at Indy – but I am not getting my hopes up. This may explain why Nicola is being very cautious at managing the expectations of her own camp.

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