Start Talking

I imagine the Leader sweeping into the room, mouth in a tight smile, eyes glinting within intent. She is flanked by officials, carefully fanning out abreast and a step or two behind. ‘M. Barnier. I am here to present the case for leaving the EU on behalf of Britain.’

‘On behalf of Britain, perhaps, Prime Minister. But not surely the case on behalf of the United Kingdom. The people of Northern Ireland voted to remain and have since endorsed that position by returning a majority of pro-EU politicians in the Stormont elections. The people of Scotland also voted to remain and now their government is awaiting your reply to their request for an independence vote in order to assume your place in the European Union. You represent the case of the English people only…and of course the Welsh.’

‘Nevertheless, I speak for my country. I will not tolerate any divide and rule tactics.’

‘But surely division is exactly what your policy amounts to…dividing Europe. And the legacy of history demands that you also address the interests of the Irish people whose peace and prosperity have been anchored by the EU treaties. I must warn you that all of us on this side have very much the interests of all those wishing to retain European citizenship at heart and in mind.’

If Nicola Sturgeon does announce a referendum plan (without date) before the end of March, the unity of the British government position on Brexit will be further undermined. Division within Theresa May’s ‘own country’ vocalised into outright doubt about her strategy, will be a seriously debilitating handicap in the EU talks.

Such a huge undertaking, while inevitably splitting opinion, really needs some mutual accommodation before a united front can confidently be presented. It would be the same if the EU negotiators arrived at the table with a handful of dissenting countries proclaiming their resistance to the EU’s terms. The British problem is that there is no healing, no resolution among the constituent parts of the kingdom. Nicola Sturgeon’s acceptance of the British vote is (was) dependent on a separate arrangement for Scotland which is not forthcoming.  Now we find that the lifeline from political and economic blight still afflicting parts of Northern Ireland that European membership represents is a powerful magnet for voters. The relative decline of Unionism in the North is a stinging reminder to a British nationalist Prime Minister that her country is far from united.

This hands leverage to the Brussels deal-makers who can ask at every stage how arrangements will go down in the unsettled parts of the country in the knowledge that most of it will be rejected. It allows too for mischief-making. How does the May team respond if, out of the blue, Brussels suggests a bespoke deal for Ulster and Scotland?

Worse, the British team will know they don’t speak for the whole country and their efforts are likely to be dogged by protest and demonstration at home.

The Chancellor’s diversion of funds away from public services into a Brexit fund is the clearest sign that sabre rattling has already caused wobbles at Westminster. The very public demands for reparations of up to £60bn as the  cost of leaving – and quite possibly the price of any progress in the talks at all – has forced the government to concede the point without the talks even starting or Article 50 being triggered. (Remember how £350m would go to the NHS each week?)

There  will be no hiding the decisions made as the talks proceed – the 27 will see to that – and the full reality of Brexit will be slowly revealed to the British public. Across the North of England, heartland of Leave voters, opinion has already moved, in some cases dramatically with some polls finding 60 per cent of Leavers now reverting to 60 per cent Remainers.

The scandals of EU nationals being forced to leave and the impact on public services will gather pace at the same time as shop prices, including food, rise noticeably. A fall in net migration is likely but at a cost of lost business and higher prices. Meanwhile the racists will realise that immigration from the rest of the world, notably the Commonwealth, continues.

If May’s intransigence and arrogance thus far are carried over into the negotiations, they could go very badly indeed. Needling the Commission with threats ignores the sheer scope for retaliation that could be forthcoming. Noises off in Brussels could include clear indications that a seamless establishment of Scotland as successor nation was under active consideration. Even – imagine – a joint Scotland-Ulster membership which recognises both in a curtailed Union and removes the need for a border with the Republic.

Instead of Global Britain, we might soon see Little Britain, shorn of all that makes it united, and the decline of the UK as a European nation.

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25 thoughts on “Start Talking

  1. Theresa May is going to find out the hard truth of playing hardball with an organisation like the EU. She will not get anything she wants and the EU will show her the door. They are being polite and respectful at the moment as we are still full members of the club.

    When you are outside the door the grown ups inside decide how they will treat you , not the other way around. The UK(England) has always been a thorn in the side of Europeans. When they are not laughing or pitying English people they are mocking their arrogance.

    She is no better than Trump but 1/50th as powerful. The rump of the RUK will be a pitiful little island and a very shallow, lonely and bad place. London has benefited from Scotland’s oil and Europes finance. We will witness the collapse of the London economy, and Mr Khan knows this. His only hope is to hang onto the Scottish oil revenues and whisky tax. Hence he lashes out at Scots. He wants to keep London wealthy and Scotland poor.

    The only racism is one way and that’s directed at Scots and Scotland.

  2. An interesting aside. My brother prints these and they go on the office wall. The number of conversions in his office of 100 or so people has hit the mid 20’s now.

    Do the Tories know. Polling is run/owned by Tories – literally. May has effectively said STFU to Scotland. Am I just getting too excited?

    I keep pointing out to doubtful ‘Yes’ers about the fact that there will never be a better time. The threat of May & the Tories is to remove our parliament. After its gone, they can lie and evade scrutiny in every way they do now with a cherry on top.

    60% of cars the UK manufactures go to the EU. Its insane to think the plants will disappear as new models et al startup inside the EU. We import a colossal amount from them, our economy will be eviscerated, the Tories will privatise the NHS, and the SNHS will fall thereafter. Inflation is now rising, and will rise more and more .. and yet all of our wages are falling – the worst developed ‘state’ for this by a massive amount.

    When you add in the mess that the EU must be staring at with glee … well, its time to leave England – and it is England, to it.

    • Sorry, what does your brother print?

      • Morag: He prints the forwarded emails of Dereks writing (he is so non technical its frightening). As he sees it, many in his office only have the Daily Record and BBC (Building Trade). Dereks writing hits the spot with many including me.

        As noted, it has made some look for more.

  3. The cars are all made in England. Expect them to move to Scotland if we stay in the EU. Same for may EU firms.

    • And the workers will migrate North to Scotland with the plant and machinery. We’re going to need a couple of New Towns, a massive road building programme, and a hospitals, schools, homes building programmeto accommodate the Incomers. Boom time!
      It’s an ill wind…
      I’d imagine that there will be a massive expansion of the population over the first five years.
      In the short term, Blackpool, Skegness, Scarborough,Whitby, and even Dunoon, Rothesay and Porto Bello better brace themselves for a bumper summer this year. Amber Rudd has announced that Freedom of Movement ceases on the Ides of March. As the pound slumps to parity with the Euro, and visas and fingerprinting are required to travel outside the UK, I anticipate that Hame’lldaeme will be an extremely popular destination.

  4. Much simpler for England (and by definition Wales) to exit the UK, leaving Scotland and NI to retain EU membership by default. We can then decide to dissolve the union in our own time, or at least reduce it to an informal union which can be expanded to include the rest of Ireland!

    • have you asked the republic of ireland if she wants to be re-involved in an “informal” Union with the UK? Sorry to puncture your bubble – but the answer is NO – We’ve been there. done that and got the death shrouds of our people and leaders.

      The Republic of Ireland is independent and is staying independent.

      Northern ireland may or may not be re-united with the rest of the country – sooner or later – depending on brexit –

      A short time will tell

  5. Gavin C Barrie

    Derek, I reckon you’ve been eavesdropping on EU politicians. A great read.

    And there is the issue, as you discuss that “my country” as May in wont to say, is in fact four nations existing in an increasingly undemocratic parliamentary system dominated by England.

    The signal for Scotland, if you want stay in the EU, talk to the EU on strategy. I do hope the SNP are doing so.

  6. Jock McDonnell

    Another great read. In a normal country you’d have a column in our broadsheets.
    As others have said before, May cannot negotiate with Scotland’s resources if she cannot guarantee to the EU that she controls them.

    O/T here but related to the previous Zulu thread. I fully agree about the attitude of many of our fellow Scots. I think there are a couple of aspects though.
    Since 2011 particularly, the yoon establishment has tried to shore up its bedrock with lies & assertion, making it simple, easy, for many voters to chime #snpbad. No thinking necessary, prepacked off the shelf criticism.
    The attitude of many voters is not a considered opinion. People are too busy, disinterested in politics. It is the easy answer, reinforced by the yoon media & establishment. It’s a reactionary view and therefore shallow. When you set their minds in motion this attitude can be shifted. But that needs us to talk with them.
    More importantly though – what really motivates many voters, particularly the selfish ones – is pain. Its negative of course, but experience shows its what works. When it starts hurting, then they will listen to the message of hope.

  7. A great post Derek
    but… your last paragraph.
    A word of caution regarding Northern Ireland (not quite the same thing as Ulster -three counties of Ulster are in the Republic of Ireland already), lots of moderate unionists are feeling quite lost at the moment and need space to work things out.

    The Britain that they thought they loved does not exist (if it ever did).

    Nostalgia for fair play and the civilising influence of empire gets a derisory response from most former colonies but it has been a powerful myth binding the bullies of empire together (we Scots must also take our share of blame for complicity). The Northern Irish are feeling lost because they can now see the folly of the UK turning it’s back on Europe and the likely prospect of Independence for Scotland. There is little left to love of their Britain and, what is worse, the love is not reciprocated by the British establishment.

    Now is not the time to intrude on their grief.

    They need time to reach their own conclusions, many are quickly realising and are radically changing their views. I was surprised by the election results because I had been led to believe that unionism in Northern Ireland was immovable and granite hard. They have shown themselves to be better than that, I hope that our Unionists show themselves to be as thoughtful and big spirited (we also need to give them space to change).

    I think any talk of a joint Ulster-Scotland membership touches on an area that is evolving but very very tender at the moment. Please tread gently.

  8. I think you’ve pretty much highlighted all the unicycling pachyderms in the room Derek and there are a few of them.

    Whatever comes out of this process, I very much doubt a ‘United’ Kingdom will be one of them. At the very least, if the political union makes it to the other end of brexit in the next few years, the populations of the UK and society as a whole will be so divided along so many lines, that the state will be ‘united’ in name only.

    Honestly? I don’t believe PM May or the Westminster government capable of unifying anything. It’s not in them. Not by talent and not by nature. It’s been my belief from the beginning that the nature of the Westminster system and the establishment it was created to protect, will bring about its own demise. Right now they’re doing a bang up job of confirming that theory.

    They’ve already stripped out anything of worth that bound society in the UK together, however tenuously.

    Thatcher’s greatest achievement, as it turns out, was not Tony Blair or the creation of New Labour. When she began her poorly managed project of getting shot of the rust belt and selling of ‘British’ institutions, using the neighbours natural resources to fund her tenure and such, I’m sure she felt that she’d stumbled upon the magic money tree.

    No, I believe what she actually achieved was the breaking of the ties that bound the peoples of the UK and wider society together.

    Who knew?

    • That’s exactly what she did, isn’t it? Unquestionably industrial renewal was necessary, but there are ways of going about these things. Abandoning great swathes of society to “on yer bike” leaves a lasting legacy.

      • The decline of empire has been ongoing and lengthy since the end of WW2. The decline of the union though? I reckon the real starting pistol was Thatcher’s deconstruction of the state and manufacturing in the UK. By taking away state institutions and destroying vast swathes of working communities, she laid the foundations for the fracturing of both society and the UK state entity.

        Politics became about power and wealth for the sake of power and wealth only. Power and statehood for the benefit of a unified population – public service – an after thought, a victim of the Tory rush to prosperity. People became, even more so than usual, electoral coin or collateral damage. Narratives were created to divide and rule, suppress or raise, alienate or include as short term policy demanded. People were pulled about from pillar to post with such regular frequency that they lost trust in their institution of government and every other damn thing.

        They simply gave up thinking for themselves. Apathy rules UK! For a time.

        How and ever, as with all cycles of abuse, karma has a way of repaying the abuser. When you push too far, too hard, too often, something inevitably snaps.

        Thatcher tore away the foundations of the UK state without even realising what she was doing. The power of ANY state doesn’t lie in a crown. It doesn’t lie in chambers elected or unelected, nor does it lie in patronage or privilege. It lies with the people and always did. Without people, there is no state, no country, no point. You break the the things that bind your society together, you lose that society.

        A lesson for the establishment, their political class and their meeja. When you screw with people. When you wilfully cause harm in pusuit of greed, privilege or patronage don’t be surprised when the other shoe drops and your world is torn down round your ears.

        Just sayin’.

  9. Absolutely spot on Derek. Just as an aside, I have always found it annoying/interesting/ whatever the extent to which the MSM ignore Scotland. It has been an eye opener to me the extent to which they have and are ignoring the situation in Northern Ireland. This Union is truly well past its sell-by date!

  10. Mayhem is about to find out that her bloody annoying machine gun way of speaking and her usual snide remarks when replying to a question any question will go down like a lead balloon with the EU representatives , just as Liam Fox’s Empire Two went down with the Indians ,
    I hope proceedings are televised so we can witness first hand and without BBC editing or interference .

  11. Don’t know if any of you caught a thread that was doing the rounds on Twitter this morning? Essentially: a reliable (but unnamed source in Whitehall) says that May has already made plans to walk away from negotiations, but not until after the French and German elections. She will blame EU intransigence for the breakdown.

    If true we could be out way before the end of art 50 max two year period. Our WTO, low tax, low spend, Brit-Nat hell-hole awaits!

  12. I hope Scotland continues to forge good relations with EU members. I’m pretty confident the EU knows that May does not speak for Scotland.

  13. Gavin C Barrie

    @ Soutron: and default on the +£50 billion EU exit cost? Something akin to complaining of the food, and refusing to pay the restaurant’s bill?

  14. Alasdair Macdonald.

    Let us look at a myth which Ms Melanie Phillips wrote in the last few days about the natural nation of ‘Britain’, by which, of course, she meant England. Within this, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales were but colonial appendages.

    It is all bollocks, of course, as many commentators have written. However, like so much of the current unionist rhetoric, it is aimed not at converting those of us in Scotland 9and in Wales, Northern Ireland, and parts of England) who feel that the UK is reaching its end. It is aimed at sustaining the majority who voted NO in Scotland, who voted LEAVE in Wales and who voted DUP in Northern Ireland, and the millions in England who voted LEAVE and are cleaving to the Tories or leaning to UKIP, which is over 50% in polls.

    Of course, most of these people are neither stupid nor racist, but they are in a state of uncertainty as things they thought were permanent are on shoogly foundations. Many of these people might well ‘hold on to nurse for fear of something worse.’ They might well go for a Greater England, closing the Scottish Parliament and the Assemblies in Northern Ireland and Wales, and running these provinces/colonies as satrapies. Good people throughout history have done many bad things. Hannah Arendt spoke of ‘the banality of evil’.

    Here, in Scotland, it is possible Ms Davidson, Ms Dugdale and Mr Rennie and their cronies would acquiesce in the colonial governance of Scotland. And, the opinion polls in favour of independence have yet to show a majority for YES. There is still work to do.

    It would eventually end in discord and decay, and dissolution of the former UK but for a period, things would be pretty nasty.

    I think the scenario I have sketched is unlikely, but aspects of it are not beyond the realms of possibility. International institutions like the EU, the UN, NATO, global business, etc would be likely to intervene.

  15. Robert Graham

    Mrs Mayhem is meeting other EU leaders today i really hope she has taken a friend with her or at the very least someone to talk too , Judging by the clips of her last visit she is as welcome as a fart in a lift . just an observation on the likely outcome of her negotiating a satisfactory exit from the EU ..
    Aye Right comes to mind .

  16. Yes, MayHem’s metallic tone and evasive, oblique way of replying condescendingly to perceived underlings – aka everyone else – will be the sinker. She may realise now that no perks are coming from the EU, confirmed recently by Hollande of France, and so she will walk away. No deal is better than a poor deal, poor deal meaning “I get what I want and that will be good for the EU.”
    Watch this space!

  17. I think that if we call another IndyRef then in essence the Brexit talks will need to keep and negotiate two sets of figures: one for the UK and one for rUK minus iScotland. IF a reunification referendum is called in NI then there will need to be 4 sets: the above 2 plus; rrUK minus Scotland and Ni; rUK minus NI and including Scotland.

    This would complicate and extend the negotiations which many think will necessarily take longer than 2 years. It will also exasperate the UK govt (my heart fails to bleed) and they may just kick us both out and have done with it, or just make it be known they have no objection to both of us leaving the Union.

    Imagine an IndyRef with Yes cheered on by Whitehall and No10, with MI5 and Special Branch called off and the MSM cheering us on.

    Judging by comments under MSM Scotland articles plenty of English people would cheer that on, many of them Tory/UKIP voters.

    • Ha Ha well said the more confusion the better , you can almost feel the total hysterical panic that the Tory party have unleashed trying to subdue people in their own party and finally bury UKIP , all sorts of unintended consequences have arisen unforeseen unforseens as Donald Rumsfeld tried to quote .
      As the Dominoes start to fall , firstly the Spanish objection to block our entry to the EU often quoted by Unionists , has finally been shown as the rubbish it always was , The next one to fall was no one wants a second referendum if you follow Ruthie’s often quoted numbers less than 25% according to her , that kinda looks a wee bit suspect after the STV poll result of 50/50 , christ that was some jump in less than four days , she might want to check her figures again.
      Can we now expect fluffy to now shut the f/k up now and as the tories keep saying get on with the day job , or will they continue to piss all over the electorate and keep pushing the same lies , after all whats another Lie , they have become very good at it haven’t they why stop now .

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