The recent announcement by the UK Government that UK residents born elsewhere in the EU are to be excluded from voting on whether the UK should remain part of the EU has some interesting ramifications.
One wonders how the UK Government, UK media and citizens of the UK generally would have reacted had Scottish residents born elsewhere in the UK been excluded from the 2014 Scottish independence referendum.
The terms of the proposed referendum – and indeed the true position of the Tory leadership on whether the UK should remain within the EU – are becoming more dubious and apparently nationalistic by the day.
It’s worth remembering that David Cameron is already on record as saying he “wants his country to be independent”.
It will certainly be interesting to see how the European Commission, Electoral Commission and indeed the Scottish voters view a ballot paper in which the two options available to voters effectively equate to “independence” or “Devo-max”.
Readers will recall this was an option denied to the Scottish electorate in the 2014 referendum. For those of us who share Churchill’s post-war vision of a strong united Europe and therefore feel disenfranchised by the terms of this referendum, these are trying times indeed.
However, the Scottish Government’s insistence on a safety mechanism whereby all constituent countries that currently form the United Kingdom must vote to leave for the vote to be legally binding, could well prove to be something of a lifeline.
The First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, on her visit to Brussels, calls for a “double majority” in the forthcoming UK referendum on EU membership, ie all four nations in the UK would have to agree to an exit.
If, for example, England, Wales and Northern Ireland voted to leave the EU and Scotland voted to stay in, the UK would remain a member. Sounds like a case of the tail wagging the dog.
However, if that is the SNP principle on referendums then surely what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander and it should apply in the next independence referendum, which the SNP will hold, with or without Westminster’s agreement, as soon as it thinks it can win.
If much of Scotland and a majority of voters voted Yes but the electors in the Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, the Northern Isles, the Western Isles, the Highlands, Fife, Edinburgh and the Lothians voted No, as they did last time, then surely the First Minister would accept that Scotland remained a part of the UK.
Our First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has begun making a lot of noise about holding a second independence referendum if the UK votes to leave the EU.
In doing so she is taking the Scottish electorate for granted by making a big assumption that Scotland will vote to stay in.
I presume that if the UK votes to stay then there will be no need for a second independence referendum.
However, what she has not been asked is if the UK votes to stay in the EU but Scotland votes to leave will she call for a second independence referendum based on Scotland leaving the EU?
No breath holding waiting for an answer, please.
It was good to hear the First Minister talking up the importance of membership of the European Union to Scotland’s economy, and I agree wholeheartedly.
This is such a hot topic that the campaign almost seems to have started already despite there being no fixed date yet.
All good campaigns need a snappy slogan though, and in this respect there is one outstanding candidate for us Yessers: “Better Together”.
Short, succinct and has a certain ring to it. Who would have thought?