Sunday, 26 June 2016

Will the UK Survive Brexit?

I have supported independence most of my adult life. The reason is mundane - I am Scottish. Some people think that support for self-determination is small-minded. And it is natural and unsurprising that people who identify as British think this. For me, wanting your country to run its own affairs, and being outward-minded, are not necessarily mutually exclusive. There are uncertainties about finances of course in the short term. But taking a step back from claim and counter-claim and looking at the fundamentals - reviewing Scotland's assets and liabilities and seeing how other small Northern European countries fare - shows that there's no reason an independent Scotland cannot thrive.

No reason except one.

Uh oh - EU Referendum results:

There is and always has been one key pre-requisite for Scottish success, whether inside or outside the UK, and that is good relations with England. The days of cross-border peace before the 14th century Wars of Independence were prosperous, as was the age of the British Empire when we were inside the tent, pissing out. But between the 1300s and the first Jacobite rising, life in Scotland was often a struggle for survival in the face of hostile English attention. The tone of England's relations with its neighbours is key to their security and prosperity.

Membership of the EU and NATO altered that. One guarantees trade, the other physical security. Small European countries now flourish in a way that was impossible in the 19th century, when they were gobbled up by empires. And while the consensus today seems to be that Brexit will trigger Scottish independence, I am not so sure. England and Wales being out of the EU is a problem for Scotland. While others rush to the Indyref 2 banner, I'd rather see how things pan out first.

Perhaps there is now no way of avoiding a period of awkward relations with the rest of the UK. If so that would be a shame. And it would be an ironically Scottish outcome - similar to the failure of the 18th century Scottish elites to rebrand England as 'south Britain' - to gain independence not through a self-empowered choice, but by England declaring it first...


Douglas Wilcox said...

Very well thought out Robert. You would do better than our politicians who seem to be running round like headless chickens at the moment. :o)

Robert Craig said...

No thanks, who would be a politician! Did you not know that their main purpose is to be someone for the public to blame when things don't work out?