In a letter to The Scotsman, former SNP deputy leader Jim Sillars says calls for a second EU referendum endanger the Scottish independence movement.
I will set aside Kenny MacAskill’s tripe (19 July) that we on the Leave side did not know what we voted for, and concentrate on why his call for a second Brexit referendum is a dangerous hostage to fortune for the independence movement.
The Remain side lost the Brexit referendum, but have been successful through legal and political action in making the passage to exit difficult.
They have created a perfect template for Unionists, in the event of losing a second independence referendum, to take similar action to frustrate a Yes majority.
If a referendum before the finalisation of a deal requires a second referendum for Brexit, then the case for a second one on independence makes the same case. Indeed, the Unionists will have a better scenario in which to make trouble than the present one presented by the UK-EU negotiations.
The EU is a large trading organisation, but is negotiating with a UK that is the fifth largest economy in the world with which it has a substantial trade surplus, and from which it will receive £39bn as a budget compensation. Any future Scotland-rUK negotiation will not mirror that. Scotland will not then be a state, but seeking statehood; it will be five million negotiating with 60 million with whom our exports reach 64 per cent; and we will not have a large slab of money to lay on the table.
Among, but not all, the areas negotiations will have to cover are: division of assets and liabilities, continuation or changes to the free flow of trade across the border, national boundaries in the North Sea, immigration controls so that Scotland is not seen as a back door into rUK, fishing rights on both sides, Scotland’s accession to trade agreements rUK has with other countries, nationality issues, and the length of a transition period. A negotiation situation ripe for losing Unionists to urge Westminster to be as difficult as possible, as many leading Remainers have urged the EU to be, to set up a situation calling for a second referendum. That is why Brexit 2 is a hostage to fortune that should never have been brought into play.
Put simply, if you throw at the winners of the Brexit referendum the accusation that they were liars, or did not know what they were voting for, were crooked, and there was “something cancerous” about their conduct, then the same will be said about a winning second independence referendum, because they will have the precedent set by leading Yes people.