Brian Monteith: No real reason to open second indyref debate

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon may have wanted to stay but she must respect the will of the people of the UK, writes Brian Monteith. 

Picture Ian Rutherford
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon may have wanted to stay but she must respect the will of the people of the UK, writes Brian Monteith. Picture Ian Rutherford
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DEBATE on Scotland’s place in the UK is back on - but, Nicola, there’s really no reason why it should be, writes Brian Monteith

THE most visible fall-out in Scotland of the British electorate’s historic decision is that it has re-opened the debate about Scotland’s place in the UK.

It need not be like that and indeed it should not be like that.

In more rational times the reaction in Scotland would have been to accept the decision of the British public, of which we are part, and seek to both heal any wounds and establish the practical solutions to the problems that would be thrown up.

These are not rational times, however. Scotland has developed a peculiar propensity for victimhood among those that have lost in a democratic debate where everyone understood the rules before taking part in the process.

Many (but not all) nationalists, having lost the independence referendum, felt that was enough grounds in itself for having a second referendum, irrespective of there being any new arguments to make.

Now it is said that Scotland has been dragged out of the European Union against its will there is a new grievance to be nursed, yet this does not fit the established facts.

Scotland is not a member of the EU, the UK is the member and the referendum was for the whole of the UK to decide. The collection of votes by regions, of which Scotland was one, was nothing to do with nationhood or governance but was purely an administrative convenience. The political significance is therefore a wholly false construct. It has no force in law and offers no moral claim.

Scotland did not speak with one voice. For one thing there were some one million Scottish souls voting to leave the EU, contributing to that overall UK majority of 1.3 million voters. For another the voice was not singular but a chorus calling out from all corners of the UK. We are a part of a whole and trying to say we are somehow different is as divisive as anything Nigel Farage has said.

The First Minister seeks to use division and difference to drive yet another wedge between people by talking of a second referendum being “on the table.” But whose table?

Nicola Sturgeon has no legal or moral mandate to hold a referendum. The legal authority rests at Westminster and the moral authority is absent as she never put such an explicit claim in her manifesto.

The only table I see is a card table and the First Minister playing poker on it.

Just as the Prime Minister gambled and lost, so too can the First Minister gamble and lose. Far better she seeks to gain the best advantages for Scotland in the coming EU talks, than take us into a constitutional crisis that no-one wants and where she has a very poor hand.

• Brian Monteith is a member of Leave.EU