The Path to Brexit Disaster

 

On 30 June 2016, a week after the referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union, EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström was interviewed on Newsnight. She made it clear that Brexit would be a two stage process. First the terms of withdrawal would be agreed, and then after exit the future relationship would be settled.

 

This process was implicit in the wording of article 50. It greatly strengthened the EU’s hand in negotiation as it meant that the UK could not refuse to pay the ‘exit bill’ unless it received X, or Y in the future. We only get to the next stage if we pay the bill.

 

The process set out two and a half years ago by Ms Malmström has, inevitably, been the one that has been followed. We now have two documents. One is a long 599 page legal document, the Withdrawal Agreement, setting out the terms of exit. The other is a 26 page non-binding political declaration setting out the framework for the future relationship.

 

The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 sets as a condition of ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement that the Agreement and the Framework are approved by Parliament. This is odd as the only legally significant thing is the Withdrawal Agreement. Neither side is legally bound to anything by the political declaration. The future relationship is still all to be agreed.

 

Is Remain Possible?

If nothing more happens the United Kingdom will leave the European Union on 29 March 2019 without a deal. The Court of Justice of the European Union has declared that the UK has the unilateral right to revoke its notification of its intention to leave under article 50. (I don’t myself find its reasons remotely convincing, but who now cares as it has clearly strengthened the UK’s position.)

 

The government cannot revoke art 50 without legislation authorising it to do so. This is because the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 clearly expresses Parliament’s intention to exit the European Union. The government’s prerogative power at international level cannot be used to overturn domestic legislation. (Miller was, in my opinion and that of the dissentients, wrongly decided because notification did not so frustrate the European Communities Act).

 

Legally, Parliament could pass legislation repealing the Withdrawal Act and requiring the government to revoke article 50 without another referendum. Politically this is, in my opinion, inconceivable under any circumstances (there would be a few votes to do so in the face of no deal Brexit but nowhere near enough).

 

So, politically, legislation requiring a second referendum to take place before Brexit day is required if Remain is to succeed. (A General Election won by a party advocating revoking article 50 would also suffice, but as neither potential governing party favours this it may be discounted). There is no time before March 29 for such a referendum to happen. Brexit day could be delayed if the other member states of the European Union agreed (the UK has no unilateral power of delay). Politically, they would probably look benevolently upon a United Kingdom government request for such delay if the request is made for this purpose, and not for the purpose of reopening the (concluded) negotiations. Under the Withdrawal Act, the government has the power to bring Brexit day under the Act into line with that agreed with the other member state.

 

However, my judgement is that Eleanor Sharpston (Advocate General to the CJEU) is correct that the latest date any such extension could be agreed for is 2 July 2019. This is because of the European Parliament elections in May, and when that Parliament sits. It will not be acceptable for UK citizens resident in the rest of the European Union to be voting for a Parliament of a Union in which they will not be citizens. It also seems very unlikely at this point that the UK will be running elections for MEPs for the next European Parliament, even if they could be given a foreshortened tenure to end upon Brexit.

 

Could there be a second referendum between now and July? If there were the political will, the necessary legislation could be passed and the vote organised. But with both the government and the opposition opposed, this seems impossible. The Labour conference Brexit motion simply left the decision for the path forward to the leadership, who clearly do not favour a second referendum. The clock has now been rundown so that even were there to be a dramatic late volte-face by the leadership there is probably insufficient time for the necessary legislation to be passed through a divided Parliament.

 

So, with great sadness, my view is that Remain is no longer a viable option. There is neither the time nor the political will.

 

The Withdrawal Agreement

Given the premise that Brexit is now inevitable, what is objectionable about the Withdrawal Agreement (ie if there must be a Brexit, what better agreement could there be)?

 

The answer from the perspective of the European Research Group  is the Irish backstop. In order to guarantee that there is no “hard” border between the north and south of Ireland there need to be no customs checks. This requires that there is a customs union between the north and south. By agreeing to the backstop the UK and the EU have restricted the options for the future relationship. Northern Ireland must remain within a Customs Union with the EU. The great concession by the EU, underplayed by the UK government, was to agree that this applied not just to Northern Ireland but to the UK mainland as well. So, the UK has obtained something inconsistent with Cecilia Malmström’s starting point. It has, at its option, the power to keep all of the UK in a future customs union with the European Union. The Withdrawal Agreement looks like a good deal for the UK given Brexit.

 

What the UK loses is the ability to impose a border between the north and south of Ireland (it could withdraw the rest of the UK from the Customs Union and impose a border between the mainland and Ireland). It is understandable how those who place no great store by the Good Friday Agreement may wish to oppose this, but it is very hard to understand what the objection of the bulk of Labour MPs and members to guaranteeing the lack of a border in Ireland could be.  It is unimaginable what the substantive objection of someone such as Jeremy Corbyn, who has campaigned throughout his adult life for the north to be united with the Republic, could be.

 

On 2 January My Corbyn gave as his reason for opposing the Withdrawal Agreement that it does not include a “full” Customs Union. This makes no sense. The Customs Union itself will be part of the future relationship: the European Union have made clear from the outset that it will not be agreed until after Brexit. The backstop however guarantees that there will be a customs union with at least Northern Ireland, and that the UK can require that it applies to the entire UK.

 

Labour’s actual objection is not to the Withdrawal Agreement, with which they have no serious complaint, but to the Tory government that will be negotiating the future relationship. That is, of course, fair enough, but leads to a nasty variant on the Prisoner’s Dilemma.

 

The Prisoner’s Dilemma

If the premise that Remain is no longer an option is correct, the only paths now open are the Withdrawal Agreement, or Brexit with no agreement. Renegotiating the Withdrawal Agreement is not an option at this stage, and it is unclear what the UK would seek to change in any event (pay less of course, but that isn’t going to be reopened). Unless the agreement is approved by Parliament, the default is no deal Brexit. It matters not a jot that there is no majority that would vote for a no deal Brexit in Parliament. That is the result. So, if the premise is correct, the only way of avoiding no deal is to support the Withdrawal Agreement, the only one that there will ever be.

 

Given that choice, I am sure that if any vote in Parliament could be done confidentially, the Withdrawal Agreement if it is the only viable alternative would pass with a large margin. There is a minority, including Mr Rees-Mogg who obtained a 2:1 in history, who taking a very long view of 50 years or more claim to be able to perceive that overall benefits will accrue eventually from a ‘no deal’ Brexit. But in the short, medium, and reasonably long term, the economic and other consequences would be so serious that only the minority European Research Group (and not all of them) would back it behind the veil of anonymity.

 

Unfortunately,  there are political costs for many MPs who back “May’s deal”. Those with ambitions within the Tory party (such as Raab and Johnson) will benefit if they oppose any deal, as Tory members prefer a no deal Brexit. Within Labour, the political cost for any MP who chooses to back a Tory deal (or even abstain) looks high as that reduces the chance of bringing down the government.

 

And so, the impossible seems possible. We might end up with no deal Brexit, even though the actual Withdrawal Agreement we have is the only one we’ll ever have (and is in many ways a good deal). MPs face a choice between the best option now available for which they may well pay a personal political price, or avoiding that personal cost and our leaving with no deal. Oh dear.

23 thoughts on “The Path to Brexit Disaster

  1. Hard Brexit by mistake is something that looks worryingly likely to me. I see plenty of politicians announcing that they won’t accept a hard Brexit, but none of them seems to be seriously considering how to prevent it — or even pointing to the fact that, if nothing else happens Britain will leave the EU on March 29th regardless of whether or not a deal has been agreed.

    The EU Parliamentary elections are also a time-constraint and I imagine the EU will want the UK to be either fully in or fully out by May in order to avoid the potential legal embarrassment of having citizens with no representation.

    A referendum on May’s deal or Remain could (just) be organised, but time is running out and it looks increasingly likely that Britain is going to crash out of the EU because politicians of both major parties were too busy looking at their own short-term advantage to properly consider the consequences of theit (in)action.

  2. I just hope above all that Scotland manages to escape this bourach, even if it does lead to a hard border at Gretna and Berwick. I am sure we could live with that. In any case we might see a reversal of the Gadderene movement to ship everything through Channel ports. Between Ireland looking at Cork-Brittany ferries and Scotland looking at Dutch and Scandanavian links, there looks like plenty of opportunities to escape the English madness.

    • That is indeed a must for Scotland. People talk about ‘leaving the EU’. Scotland is NOT leaving, Scotland is being dangerously dragged out of the EU against the wishes of the majority of the population.

      To add insult to injury, Scotland having been told it would be set in stone that independence in 2014, would mean being kicked OUTof the EU, is really in deep waters on a massive, sinister Britnat gov lie on so many levels. The lies of the so called unionists, ie Britnats during the independence referendum, and the lies of the Britnats’ Brexit, and resulting leave vote in England and Wales, leaves Scotland very vulnerable in terms of devolution, and in being able to avoid economic destruction.

      It’s really inperative that Scotland escapes the clutches of the Britnat state, or face decades of misery just when in fact the SNP gov have made inroads in repairiing at least some of the damage ( agianst huge odds) of 300+ years of a so called union, where Scotland has been kept poor and begging, while having their abundant resources and revenues plundered.

      It now is the time for Scotland to have a vote, and go for independence. England can then have their own parliament, and their own Brexit!

  3. @Bill – Scottish Independence is every bit as much an insane, profitless gamble as Brexit, and sold on what ultimately amount to the same lies.

    @Hugo – I’m not sure I take the idea that the EUParl elections are a good reason not to postpone Brexit day excessively all that seriously. There is no real reason why British MEPs should not be elected. My honest opinion is that this is simply be briefed by people who want to see the backs of the UK as soon as possible, or who anyway wish to avoid a no-deal scenario.

    • Why would Scottish independence be insane? They control vast renewable energy resources, the largest in Europe, have run a trade surplus for years unlike UK, have strong engineering and academic traditions, functioning democratic govt, fully compliant with EU law – why not become a normal European country like Norway, Czech Republic, Finland… all of which asserted their independence not so long ago without descending into insanity

      • Well:

        1) The budget. A 9% deficit is going to be a bit of a problem for a newly independent country.

        2) The currency. Sterling, Euro, or another currency, in each case there will be problems.

        3) The border, possibly a hard border, with what is far and away Scotland’s biggest market.

        4) The divided public. Right now support for the Union has stayed solidly at ~55%-plus. Independence supporters dream of turning this into a majority for “Yes” but even if this is achievable (I don’t think it will be any time soon) it will only be the kind of majority that Brexit was able to secure in 2016 – a majority of people supporting independence but divided into groups with contradictory visions of what that means.

        And that’s just the start. The hand-waving arguments used by the SNP to dismiss these concerns are every bit as bad as those touted by Brexiteers towards the problems of Brexit. We laugh at Brexiteers saying everything would be ready in two years – but remember how independence was supposed to take only 18 months to negotiate? Brexiteers talked about how they hold all the cards – just as Alex Salmond did.

        The smartest British voters right now are No/Remain voters. Anyone in the Yes camp mocking Brexiteers, or vice-versa, has nothing to laugh about.

      • Scotland doesn’t have a deficit – the UK has a deficit, of which it allocates a large amount to Scotland. The contrast between how Ireland is treated as a sovereign nation within the EU, and how Scotland is treated as a non-sovereign “region” of the UK is starkly shown by Brexit, and Scotland needs to take that route it should have taken when Ireland did.

      • 1) The way Scottish budgets are currently assessed has little to do with what post-indy budgeting would look like. How large the deficit is will depend largely upon how much a share of UK debt Scottish negotiators agree to accept.

        2) My opinion, sterling is on the decline for a long time. I don’t want to use it and would prefer to see a Scots currency floated. Using the Euro is a non-starter, because we could not immediately enter the EuroZone and thus would have the same zero say over fiscal policy that we do now in the United Kingdom.

        3) A hard border at Gretna/Carlisle is undesirable, but I pass through it quite a few times. There’s plenty of space for customs facilities should they become necessary(I admit, no idea about the east coast border region) and one thing is certain: the traffic crossing the Scotland-England border is not as voluminous as the traffic crossing the Channel.

        4) I’d like to mention that poll indicating 59% think independence would be better than staying in a no-deal UK.

        I’m not sure why you think Scotland would be in as poor a negotiating position as the UK is. We hold so many more cards, proportionately, that it’s so painful to watch this Brexit mess unfold. For one, Faslane/Trident is a huge bargaining chip. A 50,000 ton share of a 500,000 ton Royal Navy(in which almost 300,000 tons is contained within two carriers and the submarine fleet, neither of which are desirable for an independent Scotland). Scotland is a net electricity exporter, whilst the rest of the UK is a net importer. The UK also has a sizeable national debt and during the previous referendum, the UK government committed itself to the whole lot, meaning that’s the starting position in negotiations – of course, Scotland should take a share of the debt, but this can and should be used to secure favourable concessions.

        You do have a point about the timescale. Being fair to Alex Salmond, he believed he would be negotiating with a rational rUK government which saw it in its interests to ensure the independence process went smoothly and was resolved quickly, to reduce economic instability. It’s hard to remember that with all the Brexit madness around us now, but that really was the case. When both sides’ policians want it to be quick, check out the Dissolution of Czechoslovakia, AKA the velvet divorce – which took an unbelievable four or five months.

        Mind you, Brexit has proven that a withdrawal/transition agreement CAN be formed with around 18 months. It’s done, sitting on the table, waiting for parliamentary approval – a big problem, yes, but a deal DOES exist despite the fractious politics.

      • 1) The budget. A 9% deficit is going to be a bit of a problem for a newly independent country.
        (a) On the contrary, Scotland has been part of the UK for 308 years and has had its own parliament for just 5% of that time. And for each of those 308 years almost all its key economic levers have been under the direct control of Westminster, as is roughly half of “Scottish” spending. So, despite massive increases in tourism, whisky exports, technology and millions of barrels of oil, we are still in the red. And you think this deficit an argument for staying in the Union?
        (b) As the authors of the report and several prominent Unionists (e.g Kevin Hague) state, GERS figures do not reflect the fiscal position of an independent Scotland. However, it’s logical to assume that the removal of Scotland’s share of the costs for Trident, London Cross Rail, High Speed Rail, High Speed Rail 2 (extension to Manchester then Leeds), Buckingham Palace and Westminster renovations, Student Loans (we’re in line for £1bn worth of deficit on GERS calculations even though university education is free in Scotland), would be beneficial.

        Have a look at Wings over Scotland’s blog for a very entertaining and informative analysis of GERS (wingsoverscotland.com)

        2) The currency. Sterling, Euro, or another currency, in each case there will be problems.
        ?

        3) The border, possibly a hard border, with what is far and away Scotland’s biggest market.
        (a) The USA is the UK’s largest market by far – it has a hard border, so what’s the problem?

        4) The divided public.
        Of course there are differing views. That’s why there will be debate (and no doubt a re-run of Project Fear, including bussing in Labour/Conservative staffers to ram home the “too wee/too stupid/too poor” message as happened last time). The main difference this time is that Scots are now painfully aware of how much of a “partner” Scotland is in the United Kingdom and how much they have been lied to.

        There is no logical argument for Scotland allowing another country to run its affairs, as is so amply demonstrated by the removal of Scotland from the EU against its wishes and the deficit figure you quoted.

      • Absolutely, well said. Scotland is more than capable of functioning very successfully as an independent country, it was in 2014, and it is now. There is a film clip of the UKgov committee, where the economist (?) being questioned about Scotalnd’s economic viability, in a very awkward and embarassing tone, is forced to admit that Scotland would as an indy country, ‘carry an economic surplus, ‘upwards of …? £billions’. I can’t find the clip right now.

    • 51 countries have left rule by the UK, the pathway is clear and well trodden. The too wee, too small, too stupid line was put to Malta, now with a veto on our Brexit deal just like every other member. It was put to Ireland, granted a veto due to GFA. After the Brexit result the Irish were so upset and annoyed (they only joined the EEC in the first place because the UK was going to) so they did what they had held back on for fear of offending Whitehall: they invited the Scottish First Minister on a State Visit and Nicola Sturgeon, holder of that office went and addressed the Seanad.

      The Irish have Scotland’s back, so do the French (l’Auld Alliance still lives), the Baltics and Poland remember when the Hanseatic League traded with independent Scotland and how that trade got cut off by the Union of Crowns. The Scandis have told us they want Scotland in the New North Initiative. Our friends the Norwegians know the journey, they have our back. They know how to be a small Northern European oil power with rugged landscape and fish. They envy us our university sector and inventiveness.

      You English are just scared about being surrounded after Brexit and iScotland. English and British foreign policy for hundreds of years was to oppose any attempt to unify the Continent against us. It was why Marlborough was at Blenheim in the War of the Austrian Succession. It was why we fought Napoleon, and Hitler. it was partly why the UK was desperate to enter the EEC when it was becoming a success and the French opposed us. Brexit throws that entire longstanding policy under the bus, the entire continent will be agin us (the Swiss are cowed, Andorra doesn’t count and uses the Euro anyway). The EFTA countries have denied the UK entry because we are too big and recent British bad faith has put them off.

      The Norwegians would quite like iScotland to join though. We’re thinking about it. Either way we will have John Bull surrounded and at bay with the Auld Alliance extended to the entire Continent. An English nightmare come true, by England’s choice. We aren’t the mad, unrealistic ones and we know our history better. Since Devolution Scottish schoolchildren have been taught Scottish history again. We are independent minded more and more, independence is an inevitability, learn to live with it as it will be your reality as well as ours.

    • foarp,

      1) How have you arrived at the conclusion that an independent Scotland would have a deficit of 9%? I hope you are not relying on the spin that is GERS which is largely based on figures provided by UK Government figures and which clearly states that they can say nothing about the finances of an independent Scotland. GERS as I am sure you are aware was specifically designed to make Scotland’s finances to look poor. This is not a point of conjecture; it was publicly stated by the architect, the then Secretary of State for Scotland, Ian Lang.

      I could spend ages explaining to you why GERS tells us nothing about the finances of an indy Scotland because it is loaded for example with costs for debt from the debacle that is student fees in England or CrossRail in London which we are assigned as a cost but derive none of the benefits including taxes or economic benefit.

      Instead, though I ask, if we are genuinely such a drain on UK finances, why is the UKG so keen to keep subsidising us?

      2) Still banging away with the fear of currency? What specific insurmountable problems that no other country has ever had to deal with are you referring to?

      Denmark currently ties its currency to the Euro voluntarily. Luxembourg was in a currency union with Belgium before they both joined the Euro. Sterling was once tied to the US dollar and it also went from being an asset backed to a free floating currency. Numerous other countries have changed their currency over the years for various reasons.

      Several respected economists and even the UK Government have stated that Scotland would have one of, if not the the strongest currencies in the world being as it is backed by substantial assets. Indeed, our biggest problem would be keeping the value of our currency down due to our positive (and substantial) balance of trade.

      3) Ah, the old border nonsense. Why is it the the UKG is adamant there will be no hard border with the RoI but there would with Scotland? Why can there be a Common Travel Area in the archipelago that is the British and Irish Isles but it can’t possibly include Scotland?

      It works both ways though. An Indy Scotland would be welcomed in to the EU as has been made abundantly clear my numerous high heid yins in the EU including Guy Verhofstadt so in order for rUK to blockade Scotland, they would need to also blockade the rest of the EEA which is a nonstarter even for Jacob Rees Mogg and his gang! In addition, even if we were not in the EU/EEA, such a blockade would likely fall foul of WTO rules which would mean sanctions on the rUK. However, if Westminster does decide to play silly buggers, we will be waiting when they want the lights turned back on. The rUK currently imports a third of its oil and gas from Scotland along with a good chunk of electricity that they can not get from across the channel as that inter-connector is at capacity and even if it wasn’t the French don’t have the capacity to sell.

      Also, currently half our exports go to countries that are outwith the UK. Given the expected economic downturn to the UK caused by Brexit, our sales to the rUK will likely fall anyway which means the ability to use the trade deals that we have with the rest of the world that will cease to exist when the UK leaves the EU will be even more critical.

      https://www.uktradeinfo.com/Statistics/RTS/Pages/default.aspx

      4) As for your claims about lack of support for Indy; there has been no significant campaign for Indy since 2014 however the unionists have never stopped and the media is full of anti independence nonsense and partisan attacks on the SNP and yet despite that virtually every poll has shown a slight increase in support. Further, even polling by Scotland in Union has shown that the significant majority of Scotland think that being in the EU would be better than being in the UK.

    • It’s long overdue that England stood on its own two feet rather than looting other countries wealth. Clair Ridge says it all.

    • Foarp

      All the lies are from the British Nationalists whose lies are ever present. The only point you made that is correct is that Scottish independence supporters are not laughing about being governed by a foreign country in Westminster that is as corrupt as it is incompetent. A Westminster that steals our resources and peddles such lies like your 9% deficit etc etc.

  4. I think you underplayed the democratic objections to the WA. In the transition and backstop, the EU will be able to legislate for the UK, with no UK representation. That seems as unacceptable as the UK having MEPs, in my view. Other approaches to this were possible, but ruled out (e.g., an EFTA-style arrangement, or joint Committee, as used elsewhere in the WA). So i’m not convinced this deal was inevitable “given Brexit”.

    But, that aside, given where we are, and given that the future arrangements are up for grabs and will supersede the temporary elements of the WA, I agree that it would be better for MPS to approve the WA in order to avoid no deal.

  5. @foarp

    I’m sorry but these arguments are so stale they have gone moldy.

    1) What deficit? Do you mean the one imposed on Scotland by Westminster? And what about this figure you quote i.e. 9%?

    What was Irelands deficit, or India’s for that matter, when they became independent? Or any other state who has become independent?

    By this criteria, no state should have sought independence from the British Empire.

    The fact that a “deficit” will be a bit of a problem is a conundrum all nation states have to contend with. As will our own.

    This tiresome nonsense has been trotted out by HMG and her advocates, ever since colonists first agitated for independence from Westminster rule. Every damn time.

    Finally, the idea that we should continue to rely on our nation state being run by the clearly deranged, will only plunge us into even deeper debt.

    2) Another entirely specious argument.

    Whatever currency we choose, it will have to take its chances on the world market like every other currency.

    And like those, it will rise and fall depending on what we trade and who we trade with, and how responsible we will be at growing our economy, nurturing our society and honoring our agreements. At the moment, and for the foreseeable future, the UK certainly isn’t doing any of the latter.

    3) All nations have borders. We are a merchant nation and will have to abide by international treaties. Just like every other nation on earth..

    The fact that the UK has borders does not prevent it from trading with other nations. I don’t remember it stopping trade with the USA, or India, or any other independent nations, after they gained their independence.

    If there is a border at Gretna Green so be it. I would be just as happy to accept something of a common travel area agreement such as the ROI has.

    If not the latter, and England insists on a hard border, a side effect of this would be a boon to the border economy. The north east of England would also benefit from this new demarcation. At the moment all there is is a sign – at taxpayers expense.

    On a side note, did the UK embargo trade with Ireland after 1922? I must have missed that one.

    4) All nation states contain division. That is just a fact of life. A thriving democracy requires healthy dissent. Would you have it otherwise?

    The percentage you quote only seems impressive. In fact, of a voting public of 3 million people, that amounts to just 300,000 voters.

    Given that in 2012, when the first independence referendum was initiated, the margin was 2 million votes against independence, the trend has only narrowed with time.

    The UK government has done nothing these past four years to stem this tide. Indeed, it has set out to do the exact opposite. And in a spectacularly clumsy and inept fashion.

    As for your final remarks, you seek to equate brexiteers with independence supporters. It is no more than patronizing bs. A clear majority of Scots and independence supporters wish to remain EU citizens. Brexiteers do not.

    You are comparing apples to oranges and you know it.

    Being party to building a new sovereign state of Scotland fires my ambition and imagination.

    Desperately clinging to the coatails of a state which has clearly lost its collective mind, only fills me with dread for the future.

    You tell me which sane individual wood choose the latter over the former. In a contest between hope and despair I know which box I will check if I’m ever given the chance.

  6. replying to foarp
    1) The Scottish Government is not permitted to run a defecit and has only very small borrowing powers. The supposed “9% deficit” includes all the money spent by Westmisnster that it attributes to Scotland, including about 9% of spending on Trident etc. It is also at least unclear that all revenue arising from business activity in Scotland is attributed to Scotland. An independent Scotland would not need to follow the same model of tax and finance as the present UK, and would be capable of running a thriving economy.
    2) A Scottish currency would probably be best as it would allow the Scottish Goverment to control interest rates / money flow as required for the Scottish economy. Other comparable sized countries in Europe manage with either their own currency (Denmark, Sweden) or with the Euro (Ireland, Belgium) and do not have significant problems because they are not using Sterling.
    3) We are assured that there will be no hard border between N Ireland and the Republic of Eireland, so why would the border between Scotland and England be different. However even with a hard border it is difficult to imaging that England will not wish to continue trade with Scotland, particularly buying Scottish oil, water, electricity (incl renewable), whisky and premium Scottish Beef and Lamb, to list just a few.
    4) Here you have a more valid point in that a relatively small win for Independence will leave the public divided. However as the inevitable problems of Brexit start to impact, support for Independence will most likely increase, and once Independence has been achieved and the benefits of that will become clearer to all.

  7. @foarp

    The deficit you mention is for a Scotland within the current Union and therefore somewhat irrelevant to an independent Scotland. The figures are also disputed by serious academics and economists. Should we therefore be feart?

    The currency ‘problem’ is one that would be easily dealt with and as you give no indication as to what problems you foresee I cannot refute or address them. Needless to say, they would be overcome.

    The border issue is one that would benefit BOTH countries if it was resolved in a mutually beneficial way. In any case, I foresee Scotland in the EU so the rules of that bloc would apply. We only have to look at the support Ireland has received to see that Scotland would be well supported both politically and with the weight of the EU banking support behind them. Scotland is not Greece, it is a well functioning economy. Further to this, why would the rumpUK damage itself with a bad deal? I imagine there are many bargaining chips that would come into play during negotiations, not least Faslane. In any case, if the negotiating team are as inept as we have seen recently then there is really nothing to fear.

    The ‘divided public’. Well, that’s democracy. The first past the post system for general elections and simple majority of referendums are just that so what is the issue there? It is as it is and the majority of sensible people accept the will of the majority. There are some who, often encouraged by stupid politicians and those with vested interest, who take things too far, but they are a very small minority. As for your assertion that remaining in the UK is at 55%, I beg to differ. There has been no majority more than 56% since June 2017. In fact, it has been at 48% on more than one occasion since then. I imagine that since the lies of the referendum have been exposed drip by drip since 2014 and the ongoing treatment of Scotland in the Brexit fiasco there is a majority in favour. Scotland currently has a majority in the Scottish Parliament who support independence, as voted for by the people of Scotland. The mandate is there, gained through a proportional system that makes it difficult to gain a majority. The mandate is there as delivered by the many different individuals and groups who make up our ‘divided’ society.

    And that is just to start, I could go on at length about the positives and back them up with serious evidence but I imagine you are a full-time no voter who will never change their mind despite the mounting evidence.

  8. It seems the ScotsNats rapid response brigade is here.

    Sorry, no fellas. Everything you’re saying is just as off-the-wall as the stuff the Brexiteers come up with. Dissing GERS is bizarre since it’s the Scottish Government’s own statistics. Everything else you’ve said is of a piece with this.

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