The future of Scotland

I was pleased Mr Cameron gave the Scots a referendum on the future of Scotland in the UK. I sought assurances in the Commons that the SNP would accept the result, just as I and others who supported the Union agreed willingly to accept the result. The SNP made clear they thought it was a once in a generation opportunity. They said of course they would accept the verdict of the people.  It is therefore disappointing that their Leader now thinks they need a second referendum in less than five years from the first one which they lost.

Her argument is that leaving the EU represents a major change in circumstances. Apparently leaving the EU single market would be bad news, yet leaving the UK single market which is four times bigger for Scotland’s trade  would be good news. She wants a referendum before the UK has left the EU, based on a guess as to the final terms of any Agreement on our future relationship. It is difficult to see why this makes any sense. Surely if the departure from the EU is important, the SNP would wish to see it completed and see how the new Agreement works out before asking Scottish voters again to express their wishes on membership of the UK.

I trust the PM will explain that the Union Parliament will not grant a referendum all the time we are seeking to implement the results of the last on  the EU. Polls indicate there is little demand in Scotland for a second referendum. There is more demand for the SNP to use the substantial powers they already have to govern Scotland better. A referendum on the future of Scotland in the Union is a matter for the Westminster Parliament. I would think it would be wise to review the matter after the next Scottish election. If the SNP have done well in that standing on a ticket of wanting a second referendum then the UK will have to consider the request carefully.

I only want volunteers in our Union, and am glad we settle these things by referendum votes. I also think we need reasonable periods of constitutional stability between major referenda, so governments can use the powers they have got for the purpose intended-  the improvement of public services and the pursuit of a more prosperous and decent society. The UK is a serious democratic country. Occasional referenda on big issues are part of that. Constant repeats of referenda would turn us into a debating society with government constantly diverted from the day job of governing well.

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124 Comments

  1. Richard1
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 5:52 am | Permalink

    Fully agreed. It is absurd – if entirely predictable – for the SNP not to accept the result of the last referendum as agreed in the Edinburgh Treaty. I note that Nicola Sturgeon now includes as justification for a 2nd referendum that there is and will likely be a Tory govt! In other words as long as there is anything going on im the UK which the Separtists don’t like there should be continuous referenda until they get what they want (at which point we can be sure there won’t be another). The govt has a responsibility to protect the people of Scotland also from the separtists’ machinations. It should be out of the question to have another referendum until after Brexit and until the SNP has won a clear mandate in a new Scottish election to have one. (BTW if there is another Scottish referendum there will surely be another on the EU.)

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted March 16, 2017 at 10:01 am | Permalink

      Nicola Sturgeon says that the autumn of 2018, or possibly the spring of 2019, would be the “common sense” time for a second referendum. Somebody should point out to her that it would actually be a nonsensical time. Even if the Scots did vote to separate from the UK it would be too late for that to happen before UK left the EU, so they would still suffer whatever immediate catastrophe then befell the UK, and by disrupting the UK’s ongoing negotiations for withdrawal from the EU it could only make it more likely that it would be a bad deal and the dire predictions of the SNP and other Remoaners could partly materialise. The “common sense” time for the Scots to have another go at deciding whether they want to separate would in fact be well after the UK including Scotland had already left the EU, so any Brexit dust had had a chance to settle and they could then vote on the emerging reality rather than on hysterical SNP predictions. Five years later, 2024, would be my suggestion.

  2. Richard
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 5:53 am | Permalink

    You write: “Apparently leaving the EU single market would be bad news, yet leaving the UK single market which is four times bigger for Scotland’s trade would be good news”.

    Your heartwarming concern for the Scots does not extend to actually listening to what Ms Sturgeon said. She wishes to stay in both the EU single market and the UK single market. The Scots want a relationship with the EU like Norway’s and, within the UK, there is no reason at all why both sides should not agree that trade will continue tariff-free as now.

    • Tom William
      Posted March 15, 2017 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      Nicola Sturgeon has suddenly discovered that she does NOT want to join the EU. It has been common knowledge, but not to her, that Scotland would have to wait ages to join the EU, would have to use the Euro and would be vetoed by Spain.

      Now she has discovered EFTA…..

      What next?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted March 15, 2017 at 11:21 am | Permalink

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/01/11/norwegians-reject-nicola-sturgeons-norway-plan-stay-single-market/

      “Norwegians reject Nicola Sturgeon’s ‘Norway’ plan to stay in single market”

    • Augustyn
      Posted March 15, 2017 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

      Richard. You are talking nonsense. An independent Scotland would need a free trade deal with the rest of the UK. By all accounts these deals take years to negotiate and require skilled practitioners. It is far from clear to me why the rest of the UK might prioritise it’s scarce human resources to reach a trade deal with Scotland over say the USA. The belligerent, whining rhetoric of the SNP is not conducive to good future relationships with the rest of the UK and you should not expect any favours.Far more likely to me is that there would be a hard border with England and Scottish people wanting to work or be resident in England would have to go through the same process as every other nationality to get a visa . And that is only the start of the problems ………..

    • Mark B
      Posted March 15, 2017 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

      I agree but, the UK greatly subsidises Scotland and, if Scotland as an independent nation joined the EU then it would no longer be considered an independent country.

      • GD
        Posted March 15, 2017 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

        I wonder why, if the UK greatly subsidises Scotland, the UK Goverment is so keen to hold onto Scotland. Surely they would be happy to be removed from this burden. To want to keep Scotland seems like nationalism.

        • Mark B
          Posted March 16, 2017 at 7:09 am | Permalink

          It does not ‘want’ to hold on to anything as it does not possess anything. It is Her Majesty that does. All Government is is the administrative arm of democracy. And in a democracy it is government that serves the wishes of the people. Hence why, despite many MP’s wanting to remain, we intend to leave the EU.

        • APL
          Posted March 16, 2017 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

          GD: “I wonder why, if the UK greatly subsidises Scotland, the UK Government is so keen to hold onto Scotland.”

          item 1. The UK as a unitary authority may borrow based on the size of its economy.

          item 2. Many of the bonds the UK government offers have in the small print that a significant event in the terms of the deal could trigger in instant obligation to repay the bond.

          Splitting the UK into Scotland and ROUK, would probably be interpreted as such an event.

          The UK government might be compelled to settle its financial obligations and, also of note, probably wouldn’t be able to, which would destroy its ability to borrow, in turn ruining all those pensioners who rely on government living beyond its means to pay their stipend.

    • APL
      Posted March 15, 2017 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

      Richard: “and, within the UK, there is no reason at all why both sides should not agree that trade will continue tariff-free as now.”

      There is only free trade between Scotland and the Rest of the British Isles because of the Act of Union. As the SNP wish to dissolve the act, they would have to put something similar in it’s place if they wished trade to continue on it’s current footing.

      The next question being, Would the EU want to enter into a membership agreement with Scotland that would give Scotland access to the Single market, and allow Scotland to have a free trade agreement with England (now outside of the EU ) ?

      That might be a good thing for Scotland as a lot of English trade might flow to the EU through Scottish ports, it might even be a good thing for the North of England for the same reason.

      But it would leave a gaping hole in the EUs trade protectionism and I doubt that would be acceptable to Brussels.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted March 16, 2017 at 10:07 am | Permalink

        “There is only free trade between Scotland and the Rest of the British Isles because of the Act of Union.”

        Correct, that has been taken completely for granted for over three centuries and so maybe it is forgotten.

    • Bene
      Posted March 15, 2017 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

      tricky assumptions that both will [a] exist; and [b] offer that facility. EU shows a lack of interest in admitting Scotland – and Ms Sturgeon has today backed away from that – but other problems range widely, e.g. currency. Becoming independent means having a currency, not the £ clearly, and not the € – a new form of currency is very expensive.
      Finance Minister reported publicly that with £5billion of debt, it would take Scotland a decade just to reach its present levels.

    • rjkbee
      Posted March 15, 2017 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

      Richard, aren’t you forgetting that a Scotland inside the EU, but with the rest of the UK outside, would not be able to make its own deal with the rest of the UK but would have to apply the common tariffs set by the EU? It would only be able to have tariff free trade if the EU and UK have a tariff free deal after Brexit.

      • Richard
        Posted March 15, 2017 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

        Yes. And as Mr Redwood never tires of saying, that can be quickly agreed.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted March 16, 2017 at 10:32 am | Permalink

          You’re forgetting that a vote for Scotland to separate from the rest of the UK would just be the start of a process of disentanglement, and until that was completed Scotland would not be an independent sovereign state capable of entering into international treaties, whether with the UK or the EU or EFTA or whatever. Salmond’s own projection in 2014 was that separation would take 18 months, which some said was over-optimistic even at a time when the UK government was not already heavily occupied with complex negotiations for withdrawal from the EU. Add 18 months to the autumn of 2018 and that is the spring of 2020, one year after the UK is planned to leave the EU taking Scotland along with the rest. If the Scots wanted to avoid that they should have voted to separate in the autumn of 2014 when they had the chance, then probably they would not even have still been part of the UK when a UK-wide referendum on EU membership was held, so they could have observed the folly of the English from across the border knowing that their own position in the EU was secure and would not be affected by the result.

        • APL
          Posted March 16, 2017 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

          Richard: “And as Mr Redwood never tires of saying, that can be quickly agreed.”

          John Redwood is speaking from the perspective of an economy ten times the size of Scotland by itself and a population ( market to sell stuff to ) also probably ten times the size of Scotland.

          Also the trade deficit the EU runs with the United Kingdom might also be divided along similar lines.

          In short, England, Wales and Northern Ireland would be in a better bargaining position with respect to the EU than Scotland by itself.

      • zorro
        Posted March 15, 2017 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

        Indeed, in those particular Scottish economic circumstances, they definitely will not be able to have their cake and eat it…. 🙂

        zorro

      • fedupsoutherner
        Posted March 15, 2017 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

        RJKBEE

        Good point made here.

    • DaveM
      Posted March 15, 2017 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

      Which arrangement would of course mean that Scotland would have to obey all EU rules. This would mean having open borders with the EU whilst having a controlled border with England and NI. At the same time they would have to obey certain EU laws in Scotland which do not apply in England. And presumably Scotland would have to pay into the EU budget from the U.K. Economy. If the latter is the case, they could pay from the Scottish coffers I suppose, but then England would have to top up Scotland’s coffers to prevent poverty in Scotland. And so on.

      The choice is simple.

      1. They choose to be in the EU, ruled from Brussels with a couple of MEPs who would be roundly ignored, using the Euro or a totally different currency, with their young men and women conscripted into the EU army, and transferring any profits they may make to support club Med as well as accepting huge quotas of non-EU immigrants.

      2. They stay part of the UK with a disproportionate number of representatives at Westminster as well as their own government in Edinburgh, receiving dividends from England’s economy and essentially self ruling whilst reaping the benefits of being part of a successful union. Not to mention avoiding all the angst and hassle which would be caused in terms of family ties, UK-wide business and social arrrangements if there was a proper border between England and Scotland.

      3. They have complete independence from the EU and the U.K. – I would have thought a true independent-ist would choose this option?

      Clearly Nicola would prefer to see her country subsumed into another country called the EU than be – essentially – a self-governing country which is part of a United Kingdom which has existed in one form or another (albeit with some tribal spats) since Britannia was first inhabited. And it’s not the same as Ireland; there was never true altruism and unity between the big island and the smaller one.

      • Mark B
        Posted March 16, 2017 at 7:13 am | Permalink

        Nicola, like all good Socialists, likes someone else to pay for all her bills. She ain’t stupid.

    • Anonymous
      Posted March 15, 2017 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

      Richard – Doubtless newly independent Scotland would want England’s subsidies to continue too.

    • Original Richard
      Posted March 15, 2017 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

      “The Scots want a relationship with the EU like Norway’s and, within the UK, there is no reason at all why both sides should not agree that trade will continue tariff-free as now.”

      It is not possible to be in 2 customs unions at the same time.

      • hefner
        Posted March 15, 2017 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

        According to Sertel and Yildiz from MIT, it might be possible to be in two customs unions at the same time.

  3. Mick
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 6:39 am | Permalink

    You can just see what would happen should sturgeon and her cronies get there way, all would be rosey in the garden for a few years then the rot would set in when they start to struggle financially, the first to feel the strain would be immigrants who will be made not welcome then the rest of the population will be like cats in a sack fighting each other, then civil unrest, well if that’s what the decent people of Scotland want then continue to put snp in power and have your independence, but don’t expect any help from the UK your biggest trader,

    • Bob
      Posted March 15, 2017 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

      An independent Scotland would soon become a candidate for the foreign aid program.

      That would be warmly welcomed by DfID who currently struggle to find ways of disposing of their enormous budget at the end of each accounting period.

      The Barnett money could be diverted to cover the cost of supporting & housing Scottish refugees flooding across the border as Scotland morphed into Venezuela 2.

  4. Lifelogic
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    Indeed but if Scotland is allowed to keep having referendums then eventually leave will win one. A break up is surely inevitable eventually. Indeed was this not inevitable as soon as devolution was put in place by Blair (as was the decline in Labour power in Scotland).

    It will be interesting to watch this soap opera unfold, the two misguided socialists of Sturgeon and May battling away. What on earth did the sensible Scots see in the dire Sturgeon? What is however very clear is that Scotland cannot leave the union and keep the English pound and the endless subsidies. They must have a Scottish pound, take their large share of the debts or join the EURO if they are really, really daft.

    I have not realises that Theresa May had actually promised she would protect all the workers protections & “rights” while she remains PM. The sooner she goes the better then. Then again making & breaking promises is what politicians do, then they argue that black if white and they have not done so.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 15, 2017 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

      So May has for once done partly as I advised over the blatant and idiotic NI manifesto ratting. But they are still not only ratting on the £1 million IHT threshold (promised by Osborne many years ago) but they even are introducing a new Probate death tax on top. So when do we get the UK turn on this appalling cheating?

      T May still going on again about employment rights and her review by Labour(?) lefty Mathew Taylor on employment structures. Not likely to get much sense from him I suspect. She really does seem to want to be another Ed Milliband why did she joint the Tories?

      The protection for employees is plenty of other job he can take. May and Hammond’s big state agenda is working against this. Unless you are a lawyer, politician, HR consultant or bureaucrat type.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 15, 2017 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

        “To be paid for by measures to be announced in the Autumn Budget” so yet more tax increases still to come. Why not pay for it by stopping all the insane waste in government. HS2, Hinkley C, the greencrap subsidies and closing some of the many parts of government that do more harm than good.

  5. Roy Grainger
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    The SNP are in the curious position of advancing arguments about why a “hard” Brexit is bad but why a “hard” departure from the UK would be good. These arguments are so illogical that I conclude there is another reason why they want to leave the UK: they just don’t like the English.

    • Mockbeggar
      Posted March 15, 2017 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

      I think we should be a bit more specific: a percentage of Scots don’t like the English I’m sure. Another, overlapping, but different percentage want an independent Scotland. Nicola Sturgeon has been obsessed with creating an independent Scotland all her adult life. I suspect that she has been angling for an excuse to re-run the referendum as soon as possible because it didn’t give her the answer she wanted last time – rather like some EU referenda of recent years. There doesn’t seem to be much evidence that she is as concerned about Scotland’s financial welfare as she is about independence.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted March 16, 2017 at 10:46 am | Permalink

        Most of the Scots don’t much like the EU either, but many of them are some way behind the English in understanding that there is no realistic prospect of the EU returning powers to its member states. I don’t know why this is the case, maybe they thought that Cameron was useless at negotiating and somebody else could have done better, maybe it’s thanks to the mass media or the politicians in Scotland, I don’t know.

        http://scotcen.org.uk/media/1361407/ssa16-2fr8m-1ndyref-2-1ndyr8f-tw0-two.pdf

        Table 7 on page 16 – for the 2016 survey:

        Leave the EU: 25%
        Stay in EU but reduce its powers: 42%
        Leave things as they are: 21%
        Stay in EU and increase its powers: 5%
        Work for single European government: 3%

        Total = 96%

        First two categories = 25% + 42% = 67% total.

        So how does this square with the EU referendum split of 62% Remain and 38% Leave, which is more or less the reverse?

    • zorro
      Posted March 15, 2017 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

      Indeed, and the relative import/export scenarios for the two countries are very different. Scotland would struggle or let us say learn the meaning of independence in all its facets…. without the subsidies.

      zorro

    • GD
      Posted March 15, 2017 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

      Not sure about a ‘hard’ departure from the UK. It’s a two-way trade between Scotland and rest of UK of roughly the same value. rUK’s biggest export market is USA but second is Scotland.

      So the suggestion that Scotland will lose out substantially from the UK market if it became independent, is entirely contradictory to the Brexit plan which seeks trade from all over.

      Also as a Scot this feeling we don’t like the English is totally untrue. Many don’t like being ruled by Westminster but that’s not the same as anti-English sentiment. Check out English Scots for Yes. Some English ex-Conservative voters are now prepared to vote Yes in next Scottish referendum, a sign of how things are changing, and they’ll be campaigning to recruit more to the Yes cause.

  6. Lifelogic
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    You say “I only want volunteers in our Union”. Well it might be better then if the government had some vision and had some sensible economic policies that would generate jobs wealth, efficiency and growth rather than endless pointless and damaging jobs for parasites.

    The problem we have is that sooner or later the feeling in Scotland will be to want to leave, even if that is only for a brief period. If people like Sturgeon are allowed to play games & keep asking the independence question then they will, eventually win one. Then the referendums will stop.

    Do you also think Cornwall, the Isle of Wight, Yorkshire and the likes should be allowed to have an independence vote too periodically? The Isle of Wight might make a pleasant offshore tax haven.

    • hefner
      Posted March 15, 2017 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

      Aren’t you happy in Guernsey? Is it too “French”?

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 17, 2017 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

        Why on earth do you assume I am in Guernsey? I understand however that it is not very “French” at all all. Guernsey French largely went with the evacuation I understand and the German Occupation until liberation day.

  7. Mark B
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    The SNP and Scotland (thanks to them) are in trouble. There can be no excuses for their failing. Can’t blame lack of money or power, they have it all. It is because of this that they are frightened of losing it all like the Labour Party did and the Conservatives before them. I think this is why they want one last roll of the dice on this one, and the UK leaving the EU is as good as any.

    Either that, or it is another ‘power-play’ for yet more money and more power.

    Personally I think the SNP want to stay part of the UK and only the EU just to spite the English. Independence from Scotland is also independence from the English purse and the English people. Ordinarily I would welcome this, but I believe in the UK, but a reformed UK. The one we currently have simply no longer works.

  8. Old Albion
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP exist for only one reason. To ‘free’ their country from the English they so despise.
    Personally, I wish them well. I hope they have another referendum and this time they win it.
    The departure of Scotland may then awaken the (dis)UK parliament to the democratic deficit affecting England, the only country in the (dis)UK that is not acknowledged or recognised. Indeed Westminster goes out of it’s way to avoid our very existence.
    England needs it’s own Government at least equal to that of Scotland (currently) and our own First Minister.
    By way of a bonus, we could then be rid of the ‘House of Lords’ Using that chamber as a Government for the rUK to decide reserved matters.
    Seems like a win, win, to me.

  9. Jerry
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    There is a certain contradiction in the SNP’s rants with regards Brexit and their claim that Scotland is being forced out of the EU against its will, the EU referendum result did clearly show that most Scots would prefer to remain in the EU, so why does the SNP want another indyref before anyone knows on what terms Brexit will be agreed?

    Would it not be ironic, should the SNP get their way on both date and the result of indyref2, if the SNP find themselves dumping Scotland out of not only the UK but also the EU and the single market etc. [1] as a consequence, only to then see the three remaining nations in the UK carry on enjoying continued access to the single market etc. that the SNP say is so important!

    [1] with no certainty of getting back in, even if only on EFTA/EEA terms, as they have been warned by other EU27 countries

  10. Newmania
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    …..a referendum before the UK has left the EU, based on a guess as to the final terms ……

    Gosh yes how incredibly stupid would that be …. The problem you have is that remainers see the UK as a trap in which we are obliged to cohabit with a partner we find loathsome bullying and abusive . Brexit was an expression of English ethnic resentment and has little interest in the Union
    The only reason the UK may stumble on is that sufficient numbers of Scots may work out they are better off leeching from a stale old corpse in perpetuity.

    What a sad and depressing time for us all

    • DaveM
      Posted March 16, 2017 at 1:27 am | Permalink

      You should get out quick then. You could live in Italy, Sweden, Austria, Portugal, Greece – they’re all doing really well at the minute. Or maybe you’d prefer Turkey or Russia or any of the tinpot South American countries, Africa, the list is endless. Make your choice NM, and I’ll send you the air fare. Unless you’d prefer to take a truck and cross through Dover and Calais? Would you prefer pounds sterling or Euros?

      • James Matthews
        Posted March 16, 2017 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

        I think we should crowd fund it. So long as we get a firm commitment to a date od departure and an undertaking to keep out of UK politics I’ll happily chip in.

    • Jerry
      Posted March 16, 2017 at 7:44 am | Permalink

      Newmania; “a partner we find loathsome bullying and abusive”

      Yet you want to remain in (or rejoin) the EU….

  11. alan jutson
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    Agree absolutely with your post today John.

    Holding a Scottish referendum when the terms of leaving have not yet been agreed is just plain silly.
    Likewise holding a referendum 0n Scotland joining the Eu is also silly when they do not have a clue on what timescale or terms they would get if even accepted.

    Thus it is a two way guess.

    Like you I only want volunteers in the Union, if they do choose to go, the rest of the UK needs to spell out load and clear what they will lose in the way of UK support with regards to funding and government department jobs.

    I am sure the majority of the Scottish people would not want a referendum at this time.

  12. Sir Joe Soap
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    The point you haven’t made is that before and after the last Scottish referendum there was so much “cow-towing” to the Scots by Brown, Cameron Milliband and Co – we’ll give you this, we’ll give you that… if you’ll only stay. Next time there needs to be a firmer stance by Westminster politicians- cut the Scottish Parliament gravy train and Barnett formula, or go independent. As a down payment, they can pay the referendum costs by an upfront additional poll tax charge.

    • Mark B
      Posted March 15, 2017 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

      Joe raises something that I would like to ask our kind host.

      Who would pay for Scottish referendum. The Scots or the UK ?

    • GD
      Posted March 15, 2017 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

      Unfortunately all this cow-towing from Cameron, Miliband, Clegg, and especially Brown didn’t come to fruition. Broken promises. “Vote No for a stronger Scottish Parliament” – instead it appears the Conservatives in their last conference were debating removing powers from Holyrood.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted March 16, 2017 at 10:57 am | Permalink

        “… instead it appears the Conservatives in their last conference were debating removing powers from Holyrood.”

        There has been a categorical assurance that no powers presently enjoyed by the Scottish authorities will be removed after we leave the EU. There is, and should be, a debate about which of the powers returned from Brussels will be devolved to Edinburgh and which will remain in London. It is typical of the SNP that they will translate that into the brazen lie that the UK government wishes to take powers away from Scotland.

  13. agricola
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    They are a single theme party. Like the nagging wife they will persist until the electorate reject them. I suspect they think it better to try to achieve such before they become yesterdays chip wrapper. I would judge that they are already on a downhill slope.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 15, 2017 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

      They certainly should be their economic policies are a disaster and Sturgeon seems very unpleasant indeed. What ever did the voters see in her? She is another BBC favourite though as all the wrong’uns do seem to be.

    • GD
      Posted March 15, 2017 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

      They’re not a single theme party now – it might have started out like that but their policies have developed over 20 years.

      Around 10% of SNP voters voted No, they vote SNP because they see them as the best equipped to run Holyrood. Hopefully they’re now changing their minds to Yes!

  14. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    I agree that the SNP should stand at the next Scottish election with the headline policy of seeking a new referendum. If they win then there is an appetite for the plebiscite.

    During the election campaigns they can address issues such as sovereignty, access to markets and currency.

    For now our UK government should decline the request despite this being likely to ferment resentment within the vast minority.

    Any future referendum should be UK wide.

    • GD
      Posted March 15, 2017 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

      How should a future referendum be UK wide – that’s like Germans voting on last year’s EU referendum.

      I do have sympathy with Scots living in other parts of UK not being able to vote – but it’s the people who live in Scotland who this concerns, and that’s who should be voting – whether we stay in the Union.

      I think it’s clear, the UK we voted to remain with in 2014 no longer exists. If the next vote is a No again then fair enough but I believe we must get the question because whatever the result in a future Scottish referendum will be a big change regardless.

      • Narrow Shoulders
        Posted March 15, 2017 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

        It should be UK wide so all UK citizens can choose if we want to keep the union. Maybe there is a majority for breaking it up.

        It is not like the Germans voting in our EU referendum as we do not have shared citizenship with Germans (we are British not European) and small the Germans do not subsidise us.

      • DaveM
        Posted March 16, 2017 at 1:51 am | Permalink

        GD – not the same at all. England is not represented in Westminster, despite what our host’s strapline might declare. It’s our money propping up the SNP’s disastrous social policies, so we English should be asked what we want. True, the unwritten policy in any Tory manifesto is that a vote for the Tories is a vote for Unionism, but part of my last vote was based on a manifesto promise that England would receive fair treatment, and that explicit promise has been broken via the ridiculous EVEL fudge made up by the anti-English Hague, and so I retract any pro-unionist support my vote may have inferred.

        PS this Capcha is infuriating.

      • Original Richard
        Posted March 16, 2017 at 1:54 am | Permalink

        “How should a future referendum be UK wide – that’s like Germans voting on last year’s EU referendum.”

        Any Germans, in fact any EU nationals, living in Scotland were allowed to vote in the Scottish referendum.

        But not any Scots living in rUK or anywhere else in the world.

        How daft was that ?

        Mrs. May should make sure the eligibilty to vote is made more legitimate before allowing a second referendum.

      • Andy
        Posted March 16, 2017 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

        Why shouldn’t we English have a say ? We are treated with utter contempt by you Scots, happy to take the Gold and dish the abuse. When devolution was created Blair et all did so for their own party advantage, which is why there was no English Parliament as there should have been.

        We are actually talking about two Unions here: the Union of Crowns in 1603 and the Union of Parliaments in 1707. And given the anti English bile and hate which seems to be politics in Scotland I wonder what sort of a relationship you actually want with the hated English.

  15. eeyore
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    One thing we learned from the last referendum is that they have no formal place within the Constitution.

    This is so much true that the Supreme Court, in its Brexit judgement, hardly noticed the referendum result at all. As exercises in direct democracy in a polity firmly based on representative democracy, would it not be helpful, next time round, to know exactly where they stand?

    By the way, isn’t the plural referendums? Normally one wouldn’t bother, but a Fellow of All Souls – well, noblesse oblige and all that. (Bertrand Russell: “A pedant is a man who likes his statements to be true.”)

    • E.S Tablishment
      Posted March 15, 2017 at 10:46 am | Permalink

      eeyore
      I heard HM The Queen use the term referendums as plural years ago. Being the “Queens English” the media noted that perhaps we should use this as plural. We did for a bit. Then some politicians started using referenda. I have since heard Her Majesty also use referenda.
      The English language is malleable nowadays. This is good. It is bad in regard to flammable and inflammable, both meaning the same.

    • Mockbeggar
      Posted March 15, 2017 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

      I prefer to use Latinate plurals for Latinate words. However, I fully recognise that others don’t. In my view, either is acceptable.

  16. turboterrier
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Very good entry John bang on the money. I agree very much with your last sentance:

    Constant repeats of referenda would turn us into a debating society with government constantly diverted from the day job of governing well.

    This is so true in dictatorship Scotland as the key areas of public concern and stability are all slowly falling apart. With an appointment with my doctor last night he informed me that 3 GP practices in South Ayrshire have been taken back under the NHS Trust for lack of GPs to keep them open. The real state of how Scotland is being run is an accurate reflection on the main obsession of the governing party. That of being Independent.

    Hopefully the Dutch elections will shake up the EU

    So Empress Nick is going for another referendum never mind the concerns of some of her senior members. She talks of friends across the UK. Where and who are they?

    Start as we mean to go on, forget giving Empress Nick the power to call the time and place of another vote. If you really really want it, go for it and just get on with it and JFDI.

    Start getting the land buyers out immediately for negotiating the options on the land that will be required to construct a hard border between them and us. Get on the phone and talk to President Trump to negotiate the temporary placement of all our boats in Faslane to American yards.
    Give notice of the warships being at present built on the Clyde the contracts for further orders will be placed on hold and MoD bases will be relocated until the situation in Scotland is more stable. No point in throwing good money after bad.

    Placed the power companies on notice that there will be seperate power distribution networks between the two countries. All subsidies and associated payments on renewable energy will cease.

    If ever in the future they need bailing out then that decision will be given to the Rest of the UK similar to Brexit to vote on.

  17. fedupsoutherner
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    I was out to dinner with friends yesterday, all of whom were Scottish and I was the only English person there. They were all commenting on how the perception of Scotland in England now is really bad and that the English are really becoming fed up with the constant moaning from the Scots when they receive so much more than the English. This kind of thinking on the part of the English was much less common before the SNP came to power. They are a destructive force both in Scotland and in the UK. They will seek to cause problems where there aren’t any. If Sturgeon is so keen to leave the UK and join the EU then why doesn’t she let Mrs May get on with the job, who is doing the best she can for the whole of the UK and then go and join her precious EU afterwards if she is not happy? If Scotland is allowed another referendum with all the upset that goes with it then it will seriously undermine negotiations for the rest of the UK. Most people I speak to in our part of Scotland (SW) do not want independence and are sick and tired of all this referendum talk. Mind you, some would love it if they had one and Sturgeon lost so we could be rid of her but that would not be the end of the SNP and we might get Salmond back which would be another disaster. The sooner the country is rid of the SNP the better. Even Labour might be marginally better – but only marginally!!

  18. fedupsoutherner
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    Mrs May’s chances of a good result for the UK would be better with the referendum in Scotland at the same time so for the sake of the UK she should tell Sturgeon that she can have her referendum after we have left and that way both sides of the vote would benefit. Those who want to stay could then leave the UK and those that want to leave could see if they think it will be a better future without the EU.

  19. fedupsoutherner
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    Sorry, that should read WITHOUT the referendum and not with.

  20. JoolsB
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    Personally, I for one wish the Scots would go but we all know they won’t. Why would they when governments of all colours, Tory ones included, fall over themselves pandering to their every whim whilst at the same time blatantly continuing to deliberately ignore the English Question, the West Lothian Question and the skewed Barnett Formula.

    It is only English council budgets that are being cut to the bone and only English council tax payers that will see a rise in their already exorbitant council tax bills to fund the cuts in social care and yet somehow Hammond can find an extra £350 million for Scotland and £200 million for Wales on top of their already over generous block grants.

    It is even more disgraceful that a Tory Prime Minister can speak of repatriating further powers back from Brussels to hand over to the devolved nations without uttering one word of even a crumb of the same to England. She’s already had numerous meeting with the First Ministers of the devolved nations in the Brexit talks. Who is speaking for England in these talks, where is our First Minister?

    The canny Scots know which side their bread is buttered on to leave the union because the UK Government happily continue to fund their largesse at the expense of English tax payers who are treated as nothing more than a milk cow.

    Time for the English to have a vote on whether they want to remain part of this so called union where UK Governments, yours included, put the rest of the UK first and them last every time.

  21. turboterrier
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    You have got to hand it to Sturgeon at a stroke she has put the whole of Scotland on hold for the next 18 onths to 2 years for attracting new business and investment.

    Ask any true Scotsman on the street and he will ask the question “what new business and investment have they really bought in during the last 10 years”?

  22. A.Sedgwick
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    Perhaps the rule governing eligibility to play football for a country should apply to the next Scottish referendum i.e. anyone born in Scotland or with a Scottish parent or grandparent can vote. The vote confined to Scottish residents is unfair to the many with Scottish family connections living outside the country who think the SNP are deluded beyond belief. Hopefully the trend against them in the opinion polls will continue.

  23. turboterrier
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    She really ought to get her at together and look back on how much money electronically went out of the country on the night of the last referendum result. According to the financial sites and press at the time it amounted to millions. It will all revolve around economics as it always does.

    Even my staunchist nationalist friends do not want or will entertain the euro!!!!! It is a true reflection of how much their dream is not about reality just being free of Westminster.

  24. margaret
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    The SNP were badly behaved in the lobby yesterday . Far too much dissent was hooted. Whipping up emotions does detract from sensible discussion .Nicola Sturgeon to me seems to want all her and I stress ‘her’ way . The Scots may think differently . Her poise is that she wants to remain a part of the EU federation , yet Scotland has had its fishing rights and seas misappropriated and although many want an independent Scotland they want past fishing grounds back. This is an effort to upstage the UK union for (political? ed) gain using emotion not sound reason.

  25. zorro
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    Perhaps Madame Sturgeon could descend from on high and address the Scottish people as to why she thinks that it would be a good idea to disengage from the UK Single Market which is her economic mainstay and chain herself as an independent country (back of the queue) to the EU….

    As stated on the Brexit fact-based news site:

    Over the past 14 years, according to the latest information released last month by Exports Statistics Scotland, the EU’s Single Market has produced negligible growth in Scotland’s export sales. (7.8% over 14 years.). Conversely, the growth in exports to the UK’s single market has risen by 74.3% – almost 10 times as much.

    The UK’s single market accounts for nearly two-thirds of all Scotland’s export sales. That’s 4 times as much as the EU’s Single Market. Scotland actually sells more to the rest of the World than it does to the EU!!

    Food for thought Mrs Sturgeon…..

    zorro

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 16, 2017 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

      Like at politicians of the left “thinking” is not really their thing. It is all about envy, spite and irrational appeals to base emotions.

  26. majorfrustration
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    The SNP will whinge and whinge – I rather suspect that if the English were given a vote on Scottish independence the SNP would be very pleased with the result. Lets not waste any further political capital on Scotland and leave the country to the politicians it deserves.

  27. Bert Young
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    Nichola Sturgeon is just about the most irritating person I have witnessed in the past 5 years . She wants the EU – she will be denied it , she wants to keep the £ – she won’t be allowed it , she has mistaken views on the Scottish economy – without the Barnett Formula it would be destitute , she believes Westminster is subservient to her wishes – she doesn’t understand democracy ; just where does she believe she is coming from ?.

    The likes of me have become so disillusioned now with what I perceive as the Scots and Scotland , I would rather be without them . A spoilt child needs a firm and consistent discipline to keep it in line and to allow it to grow up with values that will help it ; Sturgeon needs this kind of control to keep her and the Scots in the land of reality . Theresa has to apply this discipline and put Sturgeon in her place .

  28. JimS
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    It’s only fair that Scotland should be able to takeover the UK’s membership, contributions and all!

  29. Posted March 15, 2017 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    I think it is bluff by Queen Nicola in an attempt to get more powers and money from the rest of the UK. I think Mrs May should call her bluff by threatening to hold a referendum on the same day any Scottish referendum asking the rest of the Union if they still wish Scotland to remain a member.
    I feel that the thought of being thrown out of the UK and losing the current financial support would make her have second thoughts!

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted March 16, 2017 at 12:33 am | Permalink

      English Pensioner

      I think it is bluff by Queen Nicola in an attempt to get more powers and money from the rest of the UK.

      I believe this is the main reason for voting SNP.. They know the SNP will continue to blackmail Westminster to get more powers and money which they don’t know what to do with once they do get them. The other reason people vote SNP is because they are too narrow minded to even think of voting Tory and Labour is in a mess. What choice is left? To my mind, if they were better educated they just might be able to see beyond their bias against the Tories because Ruth Davison is about the only sane leader in Scotland at the moment.

  30. Iain Moore
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    I gather Ms Sturgeon is rowing back on her commitment to rejoin the EU after we have left, which makes her claim that Brexit is a material change nothing short of opportunism. I think she has managed to sabotage her own referendum demands within a day of it launch, but then there always was a massive inconsistency in the SNP’s independence policy, that sought freedom from Westminster in order to lose it to the EU. Sturgeon in her speech did touch on another grievance , that Labour as an opposition had disintegrated and the Britain was condemned to 20 years of Tory rule, but that grievance doesn’t meet the criteria of a material change for it was an issue which was dealt with in the last referendum, and anyway devolution has made that so irrelevant in her claim for a new referendum.

  31. Oggy
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    The SNP’s posturing has nothing to do with us leaving the EU, it’s just an excuse they are using to try to achieve a second referendum and possibly independence – that is after all why they exist. We should play the SNP at their own game, the rest of the UK cannot be held to ransom by the SNP, So ………..
    Given that the Government’s delay in triggering A50 from June 24th last year led to various litigation and attempts to delay/stop Brexit – In God’s name why is Mrs May dithering now ?
    Get our resignation A50 letter sent to Brussels today !

  32. James Matthews
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    The best (and probably only) way to avoid neverendums in future, given the powers which have already been so foolishly conceded to devolved parliaments and/or assemblies, would be for Sturgeon to have her plebiscite quickly and for Scotland to vote to leave, so that negotiations can proceed on that basis.

    Sadly though, if the new YouGov poll reported by the Times is to be believed , it does not look as though that will be the outcome. Nevertheless an early referendum might well result in an end to Nicola Sturgeon’s career and a massive blow to the credibility of the SNP, so still has much to commend it.

  33. Denis Cooper
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    The future of Scotland now inevitably entails a period outside the EU and its Single Market, and outside EFTA and outside the EEA as well if that really is the SNP’s latest bright idea, because there would not be enough time to achieve a sufficient degree of disentanglement of Scotland from the rest of the UK before the UK left the EU.

    That is so even on the earliest date that the SNP is mooting for a second referendum, next autumn, and even on Salmon’s probably optimistic projection that after a successful vote for independence it would then take eighteen months to separate Scotland from the UK so that it reverted to being an independent sovereign state – from March 24th 2016:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/alex-salmond-marks-independence-day-with-mock-national-address-a6948996.html

    “Alex Salmond marks ‘independence day’ with mock national address”

    “Mr Salmond pens tongue-in-cheek address to nation written as if referendum had been won by the Yes side”

    “Mr Salmond selected the date for both symbolic and practical reasons … but the delay between the referendum result and the official severing of the UK would also have allowed both governments to hammer out the details of what happened next.”

    Eighteen months on from the autumn of 2018 would be the spring of 2020, and the UK including Scotland will have already left the EU by then; the rest of us are not going to hang around for maybe a year longer than necessary for the convenience of 8% of the population in Scotland, about 3% of whom want to leave the EU in any case, and nor will the other EU member states want us to do that, they will want to get Brexit sorted out as quickly as may be feasible so that they can move on.

    So Sturgeon now has no hope of protecting Scotland and the Scots from the catastrophe which will immediately follow our departure from the EU and its Single Market, according to the various groups of Remoaners; if that is going to happen to the UK then it will happen to the UK including Scotland; all that Sturgeon can realistically hope to do is to disrupt the UK’s exit negotiations and so help to ensure a worse outcome for Scotland, and the rest of the UK, and the rest of Europe, and indeed the rest of the world.

  34. Ian Wragg
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    My next door neighbour who is the soul of discretion surprised me yesterday when he said he was fed up of hearing that hectoring Scot on television all the time.
    He probably represents the views of 90 % of the population.
    Is the Prime Minister giving Miller time to lodge her papers challenging Brexit in the courts.
    I suspect a devious plan.
    Where is PvL these days.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted March 15, 2017 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      I wish she would just get on and send in the letter, immediately after Royal Assent to the Bill and BEFORE anybody can start another legal challenge. It doesn’t have to be a long and complicated letter – it just needs to say that we intend to leave the EU, and we intend to do that through the Article 50 TEU procedure but without prejudice to any general right of withdrawal under wider international law. There is no need to say anything at all about what new arrangements we will seek, beyond expressing the hope and expectation that we will continue to have close, friendly and mutually beneficial relations with the EU as a whole and with its individual member states.

  35. oldtimer
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    Sturgeon’s call for another referendum on her terms (the question asked, who can vote and timing) is an overtly hostile act calculated to stoke the sense of grievance on which the SNP depends and sometimes thrives.

    I agree with you that the course to follow is to wait and see the outcome of the Brexit negotiations and to take stock then. If there is an overwhelming demand for another referendum at that point then it would be appropriate for the UK government to make arrangements for one. It seems to me to be right, as you say, that it should be preceded by a Scottish Assembly election campaign in which the case for another referendum was the primary issue at stake.

    • GD
      Posted March 15, 2017 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

      Would just like to clarify the difference between SNP and those wanting independence.

      5% of Conservatives voted Yes, not much but looks like it could be over 20% for next referendum vote with pro-European Conservatives. There’s also a LibDems for Yes group and a Labour For Independence group which was quite big in 2014 and will be bigger now.

      • oldtimer
        Posted March 16, 2017 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

        Thank you for that information. I read that there also many who voted SNP who also voted Leave in the referendum.

        I have no idea what the final outcome of the Brexit negotiations will be, but I am very clear that the idea of having a referendum without understanding their implications would be foolish in the extreme. The SNP’s tunnel vision on the independence issue presumably would again be on display but it is not obvious why this would necessarily prevail if the final deal is relatively benign.

        PS As I write I hear that Mrs May has ruled out a referendum at this time.

  36. Denis Cooper
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    “A referendum on the future of Scotland in the Union is a matter for the Westminster Parliament. I would think it would be wise to review the matter after the next Scottish election. If the SNP have done well in that standing on a ticket of wanting a second referendum then the UK will have to consider the request carefully.”

    Here is the Edinburgh Agreement of October 15th 2012, which bears the signatures of David Cameron and Michael Moore on the one side and Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon on the other side:

    http://www.gov.scot/About/Government/concordats/Referendum-on-independence

    “The governments have agreed to promote an Order in Council under Section 30 of the Scotland Act 1998 in the United Kingdom and Scottish Parliaments to allow [NB, “ALLOW”] a single-question referendum on Scottish independence to be held before the end of 2014.”

    Just make that “during 2024” for the second referendum that Sturgeon says she wants.

    “The Order will put it beyond doubt that the Scottish Parliament can legislate for that referendum.”

    Of course Sturgeon could go to the Supreme Court, again, and plead that when she signed that agreement it was without prejudice to the right of the Scottish Parliament to make a unilateral decision to hold a referendum, and ask the court to declare that it can do so; but why didn’t she and Salmond do that last time, and why hasn’t she done it now?

    “It will then be for the Scottish Government to promote legislation in the Scottish Parliament for a referendum on independence … ”

    Theresa May could reasonably offer to immediately promote a fresh Section 30 Order for a referendum during 2024, by which time the Brexit dust will have settled, and then in 2023 the Scottish Parliament could decide whether it still wanted to make use of that pre-existing grant of power from the UK authorities.

  37. Prigger
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    A Scottish Independence vote, if legally possible, should be brought forward to take place in the next three months.

    SNP MPs in the Westminster Parliament are performing a non-productive negative role. The British tax-payer should not have to pay their salaries, second houses,and thousands of pounds fees for their sitting crybabying on various Parliamentary committees.

  38. E.S Tablishment
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    If some English voters could vote in a Scottish Independence Referendum , Scotland would get its Independence delivered by next Monday without any negotiations to its leaving the UK at all. It would be out!
    Being subject to European rule is what all Scottish rebel leaders have fought for throughout the entire tragic history of Scotland. They should get what they want! We should not obstruct them.

  39. Antisthenes
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    I suspect Nicola Sturgeon demanding another referendum now is no more than a Brexit spoiler tactic. No doubt she is sincere in wanting independence for Scotland an objective that is probably not of any benefit to the Scots at all but maybe will be for the rest of us. In the Scots support of the SNP we are seeing gullibility, credulity and ignorance of reality displayed. An unfortunate trait of a large section of all populations which allows left wing parties and extremists to flourish.

    Strange to be decrying one attempt to gain independence Scottish yet praise another brexit because self determination and sovereignty are cherished freedoms that should be defended at all times with all vigour. However I do with the proviso that the will of the people should be sacrosanct and if Scotland votes to leave they should do so with our blessing. My argument against Scottish independence is that economically Scotland gain considerable benefits from being in the union and they have considerable latitude which is increasing in the area of self determination and sovereignty. Only the opposite can be said of EU membership. It imposes upon us considerable burdens and represses our freedoms without reciprocal benefits.

  40. Tad Davison
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    It’s the same old story with these people, they want a referendum, but when it doesn’t go their way, they want another one, and yet another until they get a result they do like.

    There’s nothing wrong with keeping up the fight if one loses a said referendum, but to have a succession of them gets us nowhere. There has to be a period of stable government.

    As I see it, the SNP realise they are unlikely ever to be more popular than they are now, and for them, there are two possibilities – stay at the current level, or start to decline, and I wouldn’t mind betting it is the latter given the failings of their administration and the disillusionment now being expressed by many sections of the Scottish people who feel badly let down.

    And as the realisation sets in that leaving the UK would be an unmitigated financial disaster, we might even see the SNP losing their present lofty status as the largest party.

    However, when as a result of a referendum, the government is given a mandate to act, that is precisely what they should do, so I say to Mrs. May, for Christ’s sake stop dithering and get on with sending that letter!

    That is, unless the PM is hoping even at this late stage, something will happen so she doesn’t have to trigger article 50. She talks the talk, but so far, she hasn’t waked the walk.

    Tad Davison

    Cambridge

  41. Simon Platt
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Well said.

  42. Denis Cooper
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    http://openeurope.org.uk/daily-shakeup/leak-suggests-seven-bills-required-prepare-for-brexit/

    “According to leaked documents seen by The Times, Parliament may need to pass at least seven Bills to prepare for a post-Brexit Britain … ”

    And the overwhelmingly pro-EU unelected legislators-for-life in the Lords will probably resist each of them and may be tempted to impose the maximum thirteen month delay allowed by the Parliament Acts. Or as one of the ringleaders put in on Monday:

    https://hansard.parliament.uk/Lords/2017-03-13/debates/B6D4D5E2-9407-40E3-A409-49E7006937C3/EuropeanUnion(NotificationOfWithdrawal)Bill#contribution-B73B5326-78D7-4E1C-A828-1268BFC281F2

    “… this is only the beginning of the process of withdrawal from the EU … A much more complex Bill is going to be brought forward in the next Session to repeal the European Communities Act 1972 … The Government are on notice that this House will be scrutinising that Bill with especial care … This is just the start of the debate.”

  43. Peter Davies
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    Common sense says they’d be wiser to concentrate on what they are supposed to be doing with the powers they have than all this stupid posturing.

  44. Dan H.
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    The easiest route to taming Sturgeon (and one which the government looks to be taking) is to give the Scottish Parliament ever-greater powers to alter taxation levels in Scotland, whilst decreasing the level of control which the UK government exerts over them.

    This approach follows the well-known adage of “Give them enough rope and they’ll hang themselves”. It is generally a cruel and vicious thing to do to people, but in this case it is justified; the Scottish Parliament needs to be allowed to get its self into trouble and must not thereafter be bailed out like some delinquent adolescent.

    The Scottish people need to be forced to realise that voting for idiots means you get idiots in charge, and that nobody else will ride to the rescue when everything goes wrong. Do this, and that’s the end of the SNP.

  45. Posted March 15, 2017 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    I was sympathetic to the 2014 referendum and had the Scots voted to leave I would have said a sad goodbye and wished them well. But Ms Sturgeon is becoming tiresome. Scotland voted to remain part of the UK and cannot insist that it be treated a separate entity any more than Yorkshire, London or the west country can. It is ridiculous that a part of the UK with about one thirteenth of its total population should seek to have an influence totally disproportionate to its numbers.

    Here’s an idea. We should call the Scots’ bluff. No need for a costly and time-consuming referendum. Let the government propose the repeal of the Act of Union. SNP members, elected to Westminster to fight for independence, must surely support it – and with one bound Scotland is free! They would be terrified! Their present position, posturing, grandstanding, threatening, claiming eternal victimhood, while taking subsidies from their oppressors is infinitely preferable to having to manage a poverty-stricken, divided, independent Scotland.

  46. John B
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    Mr Redwood: as far as I can see, the commentary about Scotland and Mrs Sturgeon’s plans have focused on – been distracted by – what she is doing rather than why.

    Some opine that for Scotland the UK Single Market is far more important than the EU so-called Single Market.

    However, in my view, that misses a more important factor.

    An independent Scotland is not a very attractive proposition for business, that former notion that it could be an oil based economy and thrive as such has faded, and compared with England & Wales, or for that matter Ireland, does not have that much going for it.

    Mrs Sturgeon’s calculation is that Scotland in the EU or EEA would be attractive to businesses wanting to have access to the EU/EEA but not wanting to locate on the Continent: particularly banking and finance because of the much misunderstood issue of EU licences.

    Britain is a chosen destination because of its rule of law, stable society, relatively easy labour regulatory and tax climate, English language, infrastructure, global communications, amenities, business practices. Scotland then, as Mrs Sturgeon thinks, would be a mini-me of the UK, and like Ireland could be a successful competitor with rest-UK ex-EU.

    She has no doubt calculated, as most honest folk have, that there will be a very good trade deal between the UK and the EU, maybe free trade, and if not WTO rules would not be that bad, therefore a border between Scotland and rest-UK will make no great difference compared to now considering the trade-off with being inside EU/EEA.

    The same would apply if Scotland remained part of the UK but ‘in’ the EU/EEA.

    One of the things that the Brexit issue has shown, is how poorly the political class and the media Commentariat understand basic economics, trade and how business is done.

    It seems lost on politicians that senior managers and owners like to live near their place of business and the deciding factors as to where it is located are local living conditions for themselves and their families. They want a politically stable climate, decent housing in safe and decent neighbourhoods with nice neighbours where good education and healthcare are available, good weather, low personal taxation, plenty of leisure pursuits – theatre, restaurants, golf, tennis, etc.

    They want to go where they will be welcome and not be surrounded by ‘hate the rich’ class warriors or a Government which will appoint complete strangers as agents to spy on their parenting skills and determine how their children will be brought up.

    Then on the business side, companies do like the security and certainty of English Law (Scotland does not have this), relaxed labour regulation, good availability of labour and required skills, easy corporation tax and other regulation.

    Scotland does not fulfil most of these desirable conditions.

    It is a mistake to believe, as apparently so many politicians and others do, that the primary consideration for export related companies is tariff and non-tariff barriers. Companies have been dealing with cross border trade for centuries and many have squads of people whose jobs concern exactly that.

    If Scotland, which is currently in the EU/EEA, were such a pull for business, it would not be the economic poor relation of England & Wales it now is.

    I still cannot fathom the almost fanatical insistence that England & Wales MUST be in a union in Scotland – we must have a union for the sake of having a union. It is more puzzling since the arguments against the UK being shackled to the EU, could just as easily apply to E&W being shackled to Scotland. Scotland is a Socialist Body Politic – State empowerment over the individual; central economic control – England free market, capitalist; sovereignty of the individual. This tension of contradictory beliefs within a Body Politic cannot endure.

    Scotland economically is the net beneficiary, England & Wales net loser, and Scotland having a disproportionate representation in Parliament and politicians too ready to placate it, distorts the political nature of the UK.

    Time to drop the sentiment over Scotland and face the reality. Let Scotland go its own way.

    If it really will be better off outside the EU, isn’t that a good thing? If not, experience has taught me you cannot save people, or even a People, from themselves and you get no thanks for trying.

    • Tweeter_L
      Posted March 16, 2017 at 10:53 am | Permalink

      John B — thank you for these well-written and helpful comments, pointing out things that I certainly had not thought about or seen highlighted elsewhere.
      Like you I am perplexed as to why various politicians seem so keen to keep the bond with Scotland, at all costs. I wonder if perhaps it’s quite an abstract self-centred, career-regarding thing, i.e. that some English politicians simply don’t want to go down in history as having helped to “destroy the union.” I do agree with Dr JR (rational as ever): we should only want volunteers with us and if Scotland prefers independence, well- goodbye and good luck.

  47. Jason wells
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    Here’s an idea..why doesn’t England itself leave the Uk…that way England can also leave the EU with one sweep ..leaving northern ireland and Scotland remaining in both the Uk and the EU.

    England would then become a crown dependency like the isle of man and the Channel Islands.. and the parliament in London would become an English parliament ..so then the whole of the british family would otherwise remain united and intact under the crown.. Of course there would have to be a EU border between England and Scotland..but on the plus side there would be no EU border in Ireland.

    Its becoming increasingly obvious now that the very concept of a UK as an entity is on the wane and its only a matter of time now before England goes its own way completely.. and in any regards the english tax payer is absolutely tired and fed up with supporting NI and scotland bypouring huge sums of english tax payers money into these outer regions and its about time they started to look after themselves.. just an idea

  48. John B
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    “If it really will be better off outside the EU, isn’t that a good thing? ”

    I meant ‘outside the UK’.

  49. Exodus
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    Just listening LIVE to the Brexit Minister taking questions from a Parliamentary Committee.
    Repetition of questions/statements posited by the self-same questioners.
    When is Parliament going to get on a footing where there is a start/middle/end to particular elements of its work? The Future of Scotland? That was determined in the Scottish Referendum, not open to other UK voters ( reason unknown ) and the UK Brexit Referendum ( which was open to Scottish voters ( reason known ). Full Stop.

  50. formula57
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    Consider how appalling it would have been were we denied the happy prospect of Brexit had Scottish Remain votes been sufficient to cause an opposite referendum result.

    Why exactly does retaining Scotland matter, especially now the SNP has made whinging about real or supposed injustices arising from UK membership the national passtime?

  51. Elliot Kane
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    While I absolutely applaud David Cameron’s commitment to offering referenda on important issues that cannot reasonably be settled at a party level, I think he was extraordinarily naieve in expecting the losers in each case to simply accept their losses with a shrug. People who have campaigned on even the most trivial matters tend to see defeat as a mere setback; those who campaign for the future of their country will of course see things in far more serious terms.

    The problem we have now with both die-hard Remainers and the Scots Nationalists who refuse to accept the result of the Scottish referendum on independence are, IMO, part of the same problem (Please note that I am not in any way suggesting that if the other side had lost in each case they would not have their own die-hards. They would, of course). That problem being that the referenda bills, when passed, put no time limit on when new referenda could be called on the same topic.

    I think it would be only sensible if future referenda bills put an absolute minimum time limit in the bill until a new referendum may be called upon the same subject. I would suggest that be at least 15-20 years, as this seems reasonable, to me.

    A legal provision in the bill itself would prevent the kind of problems we are currently facing regarding calls for second referenda stone dead.

    If such clauses are not inserted, we are going to end up with calls for a new Scottish referendum every time the wind changes direction, and quite possibly for referenda on a whole host of other issues, too. Because when an entire movement is geared towards achieving one aim, then any excuse for them to make a new attempt will do.

    It is, sadly, quite clear that a gentleman’s agreement will simply not do with regard to referenda. We will need proper legal safeguards in the future to prevent abuse.

  52. Denis Cooper
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    Scots who wanted to be sure of remaining in the EU should have heeded the warnings given by the SNP in this 2013 document entitled “Scotland’s Future”:

    http://www.gov.scot/resource/0043/00439021.pdf

    Page 60:

    “If we remain in the UK, the Conservative Party’s promise of an in/out referendum on EU membership raises the serious possibility that Scotland will be forced to leave the EU against the wishes of the people of Scotland.”

    Page 460:

    “266. What impact will the Conservative Party proposal to have a UK referendum on EU membership have?

    It is the view of the current Scottish Government that the only real risk to Scotland’s membership [sic*] of the EU is the referendum proposed by the Prime Minister.

    The Scottish Government does not wish Scotland to leave the EU and does not support the Prime Minister’s plans to hold an in-out referendum on EU membership**.

    Following a vote for independence, Scotland will become an independent EU member state before the planned in-out referendum on the EU in 2017. However, if we do not become
    independent, we risk being taken out of the EU against our will.”

    That was the time for Scots to vote for Scottish independence if they wanted to take no risks over Scotland’s future participation in the EU, but a majority voted against it; so why should they be asked again in the middle of the UK’s negotiations to leave the EU?

    *The lie that Scotland is already a member of the EU – “Scotland’s continuing membership” – recurs throughout that document as it does throughout other SNP propaganda.

    ** Presumably because only people in Scotland are entitled to have referendums.

  53. Mark Rigby
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Am so fed up with this. I voted leave, but many of my Edinburgh conservative supporting friends said they would hold their nose and vote remain on the advice of the party leadership. Talk about regretful remainers!

    Would love to see the UK government combine any new Indy referendum agreement with an offer to any Scottish local authority that votes more than 62 percent to stay in the UK to be able to do so. That’ll be the Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, Orkney and Shetland, and probably Edinburgh. Why should we be dragged out of the UK against our will?

    I know, not going to happen.

  54. Godot
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Mrs May will trigger Article 50 and will tell us in this particular instance why 15th;16th;17th;18th;19th;20th;21st;22nd;23rd;24th;25th;26th;27th;28th;29th;30th, are less preferable than 31st March 2017? Is it so it can be delivered on April Fools Day as Juncker did say we’d never do it?

  55. Adam
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    The Scotch vote now has to be struck off the referendum result. Brexit won by a much bigger margin.

  56. Adam
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Wasnt the SNP basically set up to campaign for this sort of thing. It is no surprise they default back to it. And by “independence” they mean the want to be a region of the EU.

  57. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Strange definition of independence by SNP – subservience and government by EU. They don’t have a clue how to govern and need others to tell them as long as they’re not English.
    They could have control of fishing and agriculture again but they prefer to let Brussels dictate.
    As I predicted Hammond has now performed U-turn on NICs. Right decision second time!
    You should be in 11 Downing St.

  58. Bene
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    The whole situation, as outlined in this article and elsewhere, makes so little sense, that there may well be quite other motives at work.
    Other media reports state ‘Senior members of the SNP make no secret of their admiration for Mr Putin’s Russia, which is best summed up by former SNP leader Alex Salmond’s remark in 2014 to the effect that Mr Putin deserved praise for restoring Russian pride by his annexation of Crimea.
    Since then the SNP’s Kremlin love-in has deepened to the extent that the Scottish government has allowed the Russian Sputnik news agency to open an office in central Edinburgh, from whence it runs its propaganda war against the rest of the UK.’

    • rose
      Posted March 16, 2017 at 10:10 am | Permalink

      Russia is somewhat landlocked and would love to have naval bases in Scotland. A lot of potential there to give them a wide range over the Atlantic.

  59. John S
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Call her bluff. Have another referendum but the cost to be met out of the Scottish budget. I, for one, am quite relaxed about Scotland leaving the Union.

  60. turboterrier
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    Another thing that is rarely mentioned or thought about and that is the Scottish Farming Industry.

    How on earth will Scotland when out of the UK and waiting to join the EU ever be able to afford to pay all the subsidies The same could also be said of other organisations including universities?

    A vey good observation from Angus Armstrong from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research said: “An independent Scotland in the EU may avoid the trade erosion due to Brexit, but the trade loss with the UK may be far more damaging.”

    Obviously the Empress Nick has hearing difficulties!!

  61. Original Richard
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    Scotland voted for the UK (repeat : UK) to remain in the EU.

    Not for Scotland to remain in the EU as a separate country from the rUK.

    There is a big difference as the SNP will discover when they tell their voters that to rejoin the EU Scotland will need to cut its deficit to a third, adopt the Euro and give away its fishing grounds for the second time.

    This is in adition to being tied to a dysfunctional and undemocratic EU with only one vote in 28 and soon to become 1 vote in 35.

    The SNP were only keen on the EU because the EU were planning to break up the UK into regions, of which Scotland would be one.

    If Mrs. May does allow a second referendum then I presume she will insist in return that Scottish expats who have not been out of Scotland for more than 15 years will this time be allowed a vote.

    • Original Richard
      Posted March 16, 2017 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

      In addition, Mrs. May should insist that in the event of an overall vote for independence, any part of Scotland that voted to remain in the UK should not be forced to leave against its wishes.

  62. treacle
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    For some reason that has never been explained, at the last Scottish referendum Cameron allowed Alex Salmond to choose the timing, the question (a loaded one which gave the separatists the positive-sounding “Yes” and the unionists a negative “No”), the franchise (16 year olds allowed to vote, but Scots in rUK not allowed to vote), etc. If there is to be a second referendum, which there certainly should not be until, as you say, we have left the EU and there has been another election at Holyrood (the SNP, for all their loud noise, do not have a majority), then all these things should be decided by Westminster. In particular, the question on the ballot paper should resemble that asked at the EU referendum, with the two answers being “Remain” and “Leave”, not “Yes” and “No”.

  63. IAN STAFFORD
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    I am afraid that David Cameron unwittingly facilitated this second referendum, or at least the SNP reaction to Brexit, by referring to the “union” as and “a family of nations”. Day 1 year one constitutional law faculty “Britain is a unitary state” This is the standard legal point. James I designated “Great Britain” as the single merged country. The Act of Union continued one country with the merging of the Scottish legislative function into the Westminster Parliament. (Devolution has not undone this.) The current term UK GB and NI is grammatically a conjunction of two things – Great Britain and NI. It is not and never has been a united kingdom of England Scotland and Wales. The 17th century was not termed the dual kingdom. In fact politicians have been recently using the term “union” to means “association”. In the examples given it should mean “single” (“one”) By using the term in the” association” meaning politicians have damaged the unionist cause by conceding the idea of a voluntary association between Scotland and England (including Wales?). This has come home to roost in Brexit where encouraged by this Sturgeon is demanding a joint block over the outcome. Time to tell her it is one country not as association which requires unanimity. Much should be made of the polls today now showing a majority in Scotland in favour of Brexit. Sturgeon should be told that the case by which she is justifying another referendum would be negated by this.

  64. Eric Cire
    Posted March 16, 2017 at 2:10 am | Permalink

    Don’t compare Scotland to England!

    2016-17
    -£51 billion = UK deficit (including -£15 billion Scotland)
    -£36 billion = UK deficit (excluding -£15 billion Scotland)

    -£22 billion = UK deficit (excluding Scotland + Wales)
    -£12 billion = UK deficit (excluding Scotland + Wales, + N Ireland)

    -£15 billion = Scotland deficit

    -£14 billion = Wales deficit
    -£10 billion = N Ireland deficit

    -£12 billion = England deficit

    84% = England population of UK
    8% = Scotland population of UK
    5% = Wales population of UK
    3% = N Ireland population of UK

    30% = Scotland’s contribution to UK deficit 2016-17

    Glad to help

    OBR
    http://budgetresponsibility.org.uk/efo/economic-fiscal-outlook-march-2017/

    Wales page 6
    http://sites.cardiff.ac.uk/wgc/files/2016/04/Government-Expenditure-and-Revenue-Wales-2016.pdf

    Scotland
    http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Economy/GERS

    Northern Ireland
    http://www.nisra.gov.uk/publications/default.asp5.htm

  65. Pat
    Posted March 16, 2017 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Two points.
    I know several Scots living in England who were somewhat disheartened no to have a vote in the last referendum, and though I have no idea how they would have voted I think they had a point. Perhaps this could be rectified should another referendum occur.
    Secondly Sturgeon will look for any issue that divides the Scots from the English. Her Apparent desire to remain in the EU is just this she doesn’t care either way she just wants independence at any cost to the Scots people.

  66. My Land
    Posted March 16, 2017 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    The SNP,law courts, and indeed the UK Government may feel Scotland is a separate entity “in Union” with England. But I was born and brought up in that part of my country called England. Scotland is a part of my country. I am against anyone who attempts to take a part of my country away from me whether that part be Wales, Lancashire , England, Scotland or Northern Ireland. Mrs Sturgeon can vote until the cocks crow.I do not have a vote. I do not need one.Scotland is mine, for ever.

    • APL
      Posted March 17, 2017 at 5:43 am | Permalink

      MyLand: “Scotland is a part of my country.”

      Scotland only exists because of the Romans. When Emperor Hadrian was running his election campaign in the Senate on the ‘Make the Roman Empire great again’ platform and the ‘build the wall’ slogan.

      Who would have thought the impact of his successful campaign would still be reverberating two thousand years later?

      • My Land
        Posted March 18, 2017 at 12:01 am | Permalink

        APL Yeah. It’s a mystery too why Emperor Hadrian stopped short at producing three Roman candles and it wasn’t until Emperor Ronicus Andronicus that forkhandles were made.

  67. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted March 16, 2017 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    The SNP doesn’t want proper indepencdence but a parasitic Devomax. Fancy an ‘independent’ country wanting to share the UK’s currency and its monarchy. I wonder if they want to restore the Stuart Kings and the supremacy of the Church of Rome.

  68. Posted March 16, 2017 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    As is being reported, the policies of that annoying little woman are unravelling less than 24 hours after her statement on the subject.

    The objective has gone from rejoining the EU to joining EFTA because new polls are showing that there is more opposition to the EU than the SNP thought. It certainly proves that all the bluff and bluster we’ve heard from Sturgeon since May 23rd has been just that, a device intended to do nothing more than get Independence back on the political agenda.

    It changes nothing, of course. They still have no answer to which currency they would use and this is going to be of critical importance : with a £15bn deficit, 10% of GDP, an independent Scotland will have an economy very like that of Argentina.

    Without English or German taxpayers to bail them out, the inevitable result will be extreme Austerity or bankruptcy after very few year. If they float their own currency, their only option will be to print lots of money, in which case the result will be rampant inflation.

    GDP will plummet whatever they choose to do, making the position even worse.

    Much of the financial services industry will relocate to England and the UK Government has already said that shipbuilding for the Royal Navy has to be within the UK so will be moved to Devonport and Portsmouth. The loss of the Nuclear deterrent will devastate the economy of Faslane, as the SNP will insist that that moves South, whatever the consequences. That could increase the deficit to more than £20bn or 15% of GDP.

    There is little prospect of oil prices rising back to over $100 a barrel and even if that happened, it could not be relied upon and in any event there are insufficient oil reserves to keep spending at current levels for more than a few years.

    Moving Scotland from the UK Single Market and customs union to the EU equivalent will leave them still subject to FOM and the ECJ and therefore will still require a hard border arrangement. Otherwise Scotland will provide an open door for illegal immigration into England.

    It’s hard to see how any sane politician with the slightest grasp of economics would even attempt to make the case for Scottish independence but then the politics of the SNP have never made much sense outside their narrow little clique.

    Third world status awaits……………………

    PS Apologies for the length of this post.

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    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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