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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Predictions, betrayals and Brexit

Those of us who predicted that a vote to leave the EU could lead to the break-up of the United Kingdom are not exactly jumping up and down shouting 'I told you so' this morning as Nicola Sturgeon uses Theresa May's intransigence as an excuse for yet another Scottish independence referendum.

The First Minister of Scotland seems to believe that the prospect of an independent Scotland remaining within the EU will entice more people to support separating Scotland from the rest of the UK. However, all the signs are that the prospect of the Scots being allowed to go it alone within the EU is as delusional as the Tories' belief that leaving the single market is in our best interests.

Meanwhile, back in Parliament, the Brexit bill has been sent up for royal assent without a single one of its 137 words having been amended. Liberal Democrats fought hard to include provisions to protect the rights of EU nationals living in the UK, to ensure MPs have a genuine say on the final deal and to give a vote to the British people on whatever emerges from the Brexit talks.

Alas, the efforts of the Liberal Democrats came to nothing, not least because of the craven capitulation of the Labour Party (with one or two honourable exceptions). As Tim Farron said: “Labour had the chance to block Theresa May’s hard Brexit, but chose to sit on their hands. Tonight there will be families fearful that they are going to be torn apart and feeling they are no longer welcome in Britain. Shame on the government for using people as chips in a casino, and shame on Labour for letting them.”

The  government is taking a narrow referendum vote as a reason to do as it pleases. The truth is that they do not have a mandate to take us out of the single market or to undermine the rights of long-standing EU workers here in the UK.

My view and that of the Liberal Democrats is that if the government wish to pursue a hard Brexit then they must take specific proposals back to the electorate. Their refusal to do so says a great deal about the government we now have and the Labour apologists who are letting them get away with this disregard for democratic process.
Polls suggest that the majority in Scotland don't even want a second referendum, let alone be prepared to actually vote for independence. I can't see the Scots going for it, many think Brexit will drive people to vote yes this time around but I believe it will do the opposite.

There is just far too much uncertainty and the electorate is not even aware of whats on offer, Nicola Sturgeon seems to be billing it as a Brussels v Westminster referendum, I know which I'd be choosing and it certainly wouldn't be Brussels. In any case neither represents true independence.

Furthermore what authority does she have to sell it in this manner when its highly unlikely that the EU will allow Scotland to stay in and the rest of the UK to leave?
This is just not going to happen, I can't see any scenario where it would or any scenario where it is even possible. Not to mention objections from other member states that have there own independence issues to deal with.

So it would be a case of leaving as part of the UK and then sacrificing their new found independence to apply to join the EU. A process that would no doubt take a decade and that is probably a conservative estimate, whilst also demanding them to meet no end of requirements along the way.

All this is supposed to be happening whilst the UK itself is negotiating its own exit from the EU and making its way in developing new trade deals with the rest of the world.

Its nothing more that political opportunism from Sturgeon and it will backfire, I don't think the people of Scotland at the current time share her enthusiasm for independence. If I was Theresa May I'd call an election and see just how keen the Scottish are on the idea, I think the SNP would be in for a shock in light of this new agenda.
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