As a remain voter, let’s get on and make Brexit work

As a remain voter, let’s get on and make Brexit work

by Keith Steele
article from Monday 4, July, 2016

OVER A WEEK AGO I voted to remain in the EU.

I suspect like many others my vote was not made with any great enthusiasm for the EU but in my case I believed UK’s economic fortunes would suffer outside of the EU single market and, somewhat illogically given years of evidence to the contrary, I believed we stood more chance of reforming the EU from within.

The rest, as they say, is history we voted LEAVE and I found myself on the losing side.

But then wait, in Scotland we voted REMAIN so, as predictably as night follows day, up pops Nicola Sturgeon with suitably staged moral outrage to proclaim Scotland would be staying in the EU.

This one vote had apparently made us so different to the rest of the UK she now claimed enthusiastically she had a mandate to keep us in the EU, whilst of course conveniently forgetting the mandate Scotland gave her just 18 months earlier to stay in the UK.

To be fair, some previously NO-voting journalists announced they’d take stock and have a ‘re-look’ at the new situation, but then so it seemed did substantial numbers of SNP voters!

It later emerged around 350,000 SNP voters had voted LEAVE; I guess they’ll be told soon enough to keep quiet and fall into line. It seems only Jim Sillars is willing to put his head over the parapet and point to the naivety of the SNP position from within.

Nonetheless undaunted, and within a few days Sturgeon was off to Brussels in the ‘name of Scotland’ to press her claim for the ‘loyal to the EU’ Scots to be able to stay in the EU even if the rest of the UK left.

Needless to say she came back empty-handed so instead turned her guns on the Tories for having the temerity to call such a ‘destructive’ referendum. I’ve found in recent years irony is not the strong point of the Nationalists, but this took the prize.

It’s now become blindingly obvious to all the FM’s main objective is to use the EU referendum result as a means to an end; which is to go for another Scottish independence referendum.

Like a spoilt school child she refuses to accept just 18 months ago we voted to share sovereignty with the UK so, when as part of the UK we take UK-wide votes, we accept UK wide decisions. It now seems the FM is incapable of accepting any result that goes against her; maybe this is why she likes the EU so much; it has demonstrated similar traits.

I’ve mentioned earlier my REMAIN vote was not tremendously ‘enthusiastic’; Sturgeon in my view, in blaming our EU exit on the Tories for calling an EU vote, is 100% wrong; the blame lies fairly and squarely at the door of the actions of the EU over many years.

We’ve seen over and over again how the EU ignores democratic votes for the European political elite’s ends of a federal Europe; we’ve seen the Euro debacle where political objectives were put ahead of economics with the result the EU languishes economically versus the rest of the World with practically zero growth and huge unemployment issues especially among the young; and then of course let’s not forget Greece; the proverbial tin can that keeps on getting kicked.

Unsurprisingly with freedom of movement the resultant economic migration to the UK means the UK economy booms; unfortunately with most migration being unskilled much of the domestic population especially at the poorer end do not see any economic benefits; hence the resentment builds and ultimately the masses rebel.

Scotland, with a very low share of net immigration feels this less, so it’s unsurprising this ‘resentment’ is felt less North of the Border – a fact reflected in the Scottish vote. So where does this leave us?

I said before the referendum that a Brexit vote was the worst possible outcome for the Nationalists’ hopes of Scottish independence; I think I’m well on the way to being proven right.

Unsurprisingly Sturgeon wants to get the agreement of the EU that Scotland can stay in the EU when the rest of the UK leaves combined with an indyref2 before the UK exit so there can be a ‘smooth’ transition to an independent Scotland within the EU in parallel to the UK leaving.

She of course knows if she fails to achieve this that any new independence referendum post Brexit  will be fought on the basis of a new application to the EU taking many years to achieve. This effectively kicks independence into the long grass no one would ever take that risk and Sturgeon knows this.

So can she achieve her goal of a UK exit before Brexit?

Two things need to happen to make this so:

1. She has to call another referendum;

2. She has to win it.

Stating the obvious, I know, but on closer examination neither of the above is remotely likely.

Firstly, to call a referendum she needs it to be legal and to do that she needs the agreement of the UK government. If I were the new UK Prime Minister I would politely tell her no; her claim to have a mandate is false (as Jim Sillars rightly points out).

For me there is also little point in her calling a new referendum if she has no EU agreement and we have already seen the EU big guns say it’s the UK who the EU will negotiate with; they have zero intention (as they have already said) of interfering with UK ‘internal’ politics so she’s frozen out. Her MEP getting cheers in the EU Parliament made for good TV sound bites but it in the end it was just show business.

So let’s be wild. Let’s say she goes ahead anyway. Could she win? I guess anything’s possible if the electorate takes leave of its senses but let’s consider the challenge:

  1. If the EU is still the answer do we even qualify for membership? We’d need our own currency and a central bank to join and this time we’d have to join the Euro, that much is clear from statements coming out of Brussels since the referendum. To qualify to be part of the Euro we’d need to agree to run a budget deficit of 3% or less. Since the oil price crash we are running a deficit of close to 10% 9the worst in Europe and of Greek proportions); would Scots accept the austerity that would come with membership? Would the EU take on another potential Greece? Would they ****!
  2. Is the EU such a great alternative to the UK? In the EU referendum we had the sight of Sturgeon and others espousing the benefits of union and shared sovereignty so it was EU good, UK bad – there’s that irony thing again. When asked to explain I was told by an SNP ‘intellectual’ it was different because the EU was far more ‘progressive’ than the UK. I would suggest arguing that after the treatment of Greece and with the spectre of EU mass youth unemployment will be a challenge of epic proportions
  3. What happens to the UK in the interim? Sturgeon’s argument will, I guess, have more substance if the UK doesn’t make good progress towards its own settlement with the EU on exit. I think the reason Sturgeon is in a rush is precisely because she knows the UK will probably get a good deal. The circle that has to be squared is the single market and freedom of movement. I’m not saying it will be easy but I just don’t see the EU or the UK acting like lemmings and not coming to a reasonable agreement. A sort of Norway EEA+ deal looks like something feasible (

I could go on. Borders with England; economics of Indy; impact of currency differentials etc not to mention how the EU might change; this has undoubtedly been a major shock to the EU giving confidence to populations in The Netherlands, Italy, France and Germany some of whom (France) are particularly more eurosceptic than the UK. The EU will have to reform and soon especially on borders to have any chance of survival, or others will surely follow the UK’s lead and leave.

So, in conclusion, I think the dreams of Scottish independence are dead with Brexit although we may still get a lot of noise. I would say it’s now totally incumbent on the UK politicos to make sure we come out of this with a positive future vision for the UK, rather than win the UK by default and now we have a real chance to do this.

If we make the right moves here Brexit can work; it may even lead to a better EU, one which we feel we can rejoin at some point. From my initial disappointment I have to admit to changing my mind, I now believe we have reasons to be very optimistic – so please let’s get on and make this work together.


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