There are times I feel like the world is going mad. This week has been such a week, with the soul destroying (IMHO) new EDS diagnostic criteria and Nicola Sturgeon calling for a 2nd Referendum on Scottish Independence less than 3 years after the first one. I live just 30 miles from the Scottish border and travel regularly into Scotland. My best mate’s husband works in Scotland yet lives in England and I know farmers who live one side of the border yet whose land crosses onto the other. None of us want another Referendum and I haven’t spoken to anyone yet who does. I couldn’t care less whether Scotland is its own country or stays as part of the UK – it has little bearing on me personally apart from theoretically having to produce my passport when I go up the M6 – but the timing of this current announcement sucks for all concerned.
Nicola Sturgeon has dreamed of an independent Scotland since she was 15 years old. This is a personal crusade to her and her political raison d’être. She is obsessed, and her pushing for a 2nd referendum has nothing to do with what’s best for Scotland – I hope the Scottish people realize this, even if they are pro-independence. The choice appears to be to leave a 400 year union with the 5th richest nation in the world to join a 40 year union which contains two essentially bankrupt countries. Alrighty-then.
The excuse for wanting a second referendum (and it is an excuse) is that during the EU Referendum Scotland voted to remain in Europe. So did London, but it doesn’t mean London should become its own country (even though at times it acts like one!). Democracy means accepting the will of the majority, even if you don’t like it. You can’t have a second go just cos you didn’t like the result of the first – it’s not best of three. That aside, if Scotland left the UK tomorrow it would not be entitled to simply remain in the EU anyway – it doesn’t work like that. It first has to extricate itself from the UK, which could take a decade. Then as a newly independent country it has to apply to become a member of the EU, which could take at least another 4 years even if Scotland is ‘fast tracked’ (this has been confirmed many times by EU leaders). So what the current rush is about I have no idea.
Being a member of the EU depends on strict criteria, one of which is being part of NATO. If Scotland became independent tomorrow they would not be a NATO member, as it’s the UK who belong to NATO and Scotland would not be in the UK.
In addition, there needs to be particular fiscal policies in place. The budget deficit needs to be 3% of GDP and, with the current plummeting of oil prices, Scotland’s deficit currently stands at an estimated 8% of GDP. Scotland wants to break away from the UK yet retain the £ and the services of the Bank of England. Talk about wanting your cake and eating it! The fact that Sturgeon has made life soooo difficult for the UK Government during its Brexit strategy by calling for this 2nd referendum will probably mean that Theresa May is going to tell her to get knotted over the currency issue, which leaves an independent Scotland without any form of cash. They won’t be a member of the EU for some years, so can’t use the Euro, and will no longer have the Pound. Good luck with that.
There are also some issues which don’t make the headlines but which are, nevertheless, really important for Scotland to consider. There’s the small matter of debt. Even if it gains independence, Scotland will have to repay its share of the UK’s £1.7trillion debt. If it joins the EU it also takes on European debt caused by the bail-out of Greece and Ireland. The UK has over 60 million people, all paying taxes – it can afford this level of debt. Scotland has only 5 million people and a much smaller pot to pinch from. And speaking of taxes, for every £100 raised in taxes in Scotland it spends £127 and can only do this because the shortfall is made up from UK coffers, which of course wouldn’t happen if they left the UK. In order to bring down spending an independent Scotland would have to make some radical decisions, eg abolishing free University tuition and prescription fees. In other words they would have to enter a new phase of austerity.
It appears some Scottish voters think that if they vote for independence they will immediately be independent and nothing is further from the truth. It will take years to negotiate terms and to sever ties from the UK, by which time we will have left the EU and the world will look very different. If I were Scotland I’d want to see how this played out before deciding the future of my country. Independence is not the rich and free Utiopia portrayed by Sturgeon – I just hope the ordinary people of Scotland realize this when making their choice. I hope for their sakes they do some reading up and not just from the side they favour. I hope they look at independent sources of information and both sides of the argument. It’s a massive decision and one which they can’t take back if it goes belly up. Yes this post looks at the negatives of leaving the UK and not the positives (I’m sure there are some, I just can’t find them!) but that’s because Sturgeon only mentions the good bits and does it with such passion and fervour it’s hard to see past the rehetoric. But see past it Scotland must, because no matter how flat you make a pancake it has two sides – the top might look perfect but when you flip it the underside could be burnt and inedible.