As Seen On CapX: How Brexit Killed Off IndyRef2
After Brexit, we will never hold another Referendum without precisely defining the terms before the vote.
That means the SNP will have to negotiate the terms of secession with the 91% of MPs from the rest of the UK before holding IndyRef2.
Those MPs have every incentive to make the terms of independence as onerous as possible. Indeed they have a duty to their constituents to do so.
This would likely include Scotland taking more than its share of financial liabilities, losing out on government property, assuming future obligations to fund UK Defence, and taking a share of illegal immigrants and asylum seekers entering the UK from the south.
A bold Prime Minister should call Sturgeon's bluff and hold IndyRef 2: An Up-or-Out choice between gaining independence on horrific terms, or staying in the UK under a new settlement that resets the failures of devolution.
Given that stark choice, we could revive the Union and bury this nonsensical grandstanding forever.
The Article link is here: How Brexit blew up Indyref2 - CapX
However, the original, more forthright (and more entertaining!) version is below:
How Brexit Killed IndyRef 2
“And isn't it ironic, don't ya think?” sang Alanis Morissette, before listing off dozens of annoyances; the biggest irony being that none of them were ironic.
What is ironic is that Brexit – the weapon Nicola Sturgeon is using to demand IndyRef 2 - is the very reason IndyRef 2 won’t work.
In the 2014 referendum, David Cameron was so confident of winning, he was happy to indulge the SNP with their fantasy manifesto. Post-2016, attitudes have changed. Never again will we have a referendum without precisely defining the terms before the vote.
In the case of Scottish Independence, those terms of departure really matter. Last week we began to see how big the gulf is between SNP daydreams and the cold reality of secession. Ian Blackford MP claimed that after Independence, the UK would carry on paying Scottish pensions. With a straight face, Nicola Sturgeon affirmed this view. This unconditional generosity would come on top of the ‘full fiscal transfer’ – the nationalists’ belief that Scotland can walk away from its share of UK debt, including the vast sums it has run up since devolution.
It makes you wonder what it must be like going on a date with an SNP supporter. Having ordered the most expensive items on the menu, your date would spend the entire evening berating you, before demanding you foot the bill, the tip, and their taxi home.
What Blackford’s comment exposes is that Scottish Independence affects everyone, including the 92% of voters and the 91% of elected MPs from the rest of the UK (RUK). It is those MPs who would rightfully set the terms of any departure. Their duty would be to their constituents and the future UK, not to Scotland.
Moreover, most Conservatives have a visceral dislike for both the SNP and any breakup of the Union. To make matters worse, Ms Sturgeon has spent a decade doing everything possible to antagonise them.
Meanwhile, the left could face extinction without the balance of Scottish seats in Westminster. Since the Second World War, the only Labour MP to win a majority without Scottish votes was Tony Blair (not exactly a paragon of the left).
For RUK MPs there is nothing to lose. Why not make your demands as outrageous as Scotland’s? Thus, Ms Sturgeon would face the impossible task of finding common ground among MPs with every incentive to disagree. It would make Theresa May’s job look like a cake-walk.
So what would the 92% ask for? A quick straw poll of friends south of the border suggests they would include:
· That Scotland takes its national debt obligations and its share of UK government obligations in proportion to its bloated public sector.
· RUK would get first dibs on movable government property and crown property in Scotland. British citizens leaving the UK do not get to take government property with them. Why should Scots?
· RUK would be free to impose tariffs on Scottish goods and people passing through its land, sea or air. This may be beneficial to RUK as most of the world is to the south, while of little benefit to Scotland (only Iceland is northwards).
· To avoid a financial shock, Scotland should spend a full year living on a balanced budget with no RUK contributions before any independence vote. This would likely require at least a 30% overnight cut to public sector budgets across the board.
· Reflecting the fact that Scotland has not historically taken its share of immigrants and most come via the South; Scotland would be responsible for processing and settling all future illegal immigrants and asylum seekers arriving in RUK.
· Scotland would continue to contribute to the UK defence budget and would not be allowed an army of its own. This is a vital security consideration, given the SNP’s historic support for, amongst others, Venezuela, Russia, China, the IRA and Basque separatists, not to mention the centuries of border skirmishes with England. This is not just a UK demand. NATO and EU members would not accept the strategic risk of a failed state on the edge of the Atlantic. What if Russia offered a bankrupt Scotland $1bn for Rosyth naval base?
· Areas of Scotland that are contiguous to RUK and vote to remain in the UK would do so. Thus, wealthy regions such as The Borders, Edinburgh and the East Coast would likely be carved out.
After all why not? In yet another ironic twist, this would just be hoisting the SNP by their own petard. As part of the Second Brexit Referendum coalition, SNP MPs argued the Brexit vote was invalid because the terms were not known by voters when the referendum took place. By the same token, the SNP must negotiate the full terms before any Independence Referendum.
If Nicola Sturgeon shouts too loudly, it may only be a matter of time before an opportunistic RUK MP adopts the Twitter handle, #WeAreThe92%, and begins making pledges around the “Independence Dividend.” Both Labour and the Conservatives are keen to seduce the North of England with new promises. Then, more conditions and costs will mount up for Scotland.
Strategically, Johnson might benefit from letting this debate rip, and then portraying himself as a protector for Scotland by vetoing any referendum.
A bold Prime Minister could go even further and push for an Up-or-Out referendum. Gain independence on horrific terms, or stay in the UK under a new settlement that resets the failures of devolution.
Once RUK sets its side of the bargain, many Scots will lose interest. All the fantasy benefits will be replaced by piles of new obligations. For many ardent nationalists, the idea of actually helping the English and the Tories would be too much to swallow.
For Ms Sturgeon herself, the prospect of to-ing and fro-ing to London to plead with the likes Jacob- Rees-Mogg and Theresa May must seem particularly unappealing. Having spent years enduring her tartan truculence, they would surely relish the prospect of humiliating her.
A little too ironic, don’t ya think?