It seems unlikely to me that Brexit will lead to Scottish independence

One the 23rd June, Scotland voted 62% vs 38% for remaining in the EU, which is of course at odds with the overall UK vote of 52% vs 48% for Leave.

Since then, Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish government have been quick to put the option of holding a second referendum on independence on the table, but Sturgeon has so far fallen short of saying it would definitely happen, and talked about looking at all the options for Scotland to remain in the EU.

With the SNP taking 56/59 of the Scottish seats at Westminster in 2015 and forming another administration at Holyrood, with the help of the pro-independence Scottish Green Party, and with the vote to leave the EU being explicitly one of the options Sturgeon had mentioned that might trigger a second independence referendum, many are now talking about the possibility of that happening and thus of Brexit leading to the breakup of the UK.

However despite these poll results, it seems to me rather unlikely that Scotland will become independent in order to become an EU member.

The reasoning for this is simple

  • I expect Scotland to end up outside the EU, having to apply to join, if she obtains independence from the UK.
    • It seems to me most unlikely that Scotland will be able to remain in the EU as the rest of the UK leaves, it is highly speculative as to how it would work and it requires cooperation from the EU and the UK to happen, and it’s not clear why either the UK or EU would entertain the notion.
  • Voting to leave both the UK and the EU means voting for a double dose of economic uncertainty, an extra dose on top of that caused by Brexit itself. It thus seems to me that an independence referendum with that as the choice will be even harder for the SNP to win than the 2014 referendum was. Questions about how the deficit will be dealt with, what currency option will be pursued, etc will be even more stark than they were in 2014.

Additionally, I note that a recent opinion poll did not favour Scottish independence in the event of Brexit.

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It’s too early to assess the impact of Brexit

Since the vote to leave the EU on the 23rd of June there have been a number of reports in the media on the state of Britain’s economy.

On the positive side, the reports have included:

On the negative side, the reports have included:

I have a few problems with these reports:

  • We haven’t left the EU yet! The indicators at best indicate what the impact of the vote to leave has been, and will in fact be some combination of that and other factors. To the extent they reflect the impact of the vote, they will be indicating the uncertainty that has arisen as a result of the vote but prior to even the beginning of negotiations which won’t start until 2017.
  • Some of the indicators are likely to be lagging indicators that will not yet show the impact of the June vote, e.g. figures relating to employment/unemployment will be showing mainly the impact of pre-vote decisions/factors.
  • There’s huge amount of uncertainty that will persist until we know what the outcome of the negotiations with the EU will be.

To claim that predictions about the impact of Brexit, whether positive or negative, are now being proven true (or false) is thus extremely premature.

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Corbyn refuses to say if he would honour Nato’s mutual defence pact

At a Labour leadership hustings in Birmingham, Jeremy Corbyn was questioned about whether he would come to the aid of a Nato country that was invaded by Russia. After Owen Smith said we would have to go to the aid of such a country, when pressed on this issue Corbyn said:

That’s in the NATO treaty. I would hope we that could strengthen our relations and activity within the OSCE, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation within Europe, which includes Russia and every other state. We cannot allow a military build-up which is going to lead to some calamitous, incredibly dangerous situations…

[he’s interrupted by the interviewer here, who presses him again on the scenario]

I would want to avoid us getting involved militarily by building up the diplomatic relationships and also trying to not isolate any country in Europe to bring them up.

[Corbyn is pressed further by the interviewer at this point]

I don’t wish to go to war, what I want to do is achieve a world where there is no need to go to war, where this is no need for it, that can be done.

The problems I have with this response are that:

  • he has not actually answered the question of what his response as British PM to a Russian violation of sovereignty of a Nato country would in fact be.
  • he appears to think he can avoid the scenario ever rising through diplomacy and through avoiding any kind of military build up, but surely whether or not Russia (or any other country) will decide to invade another state is not under Corbyn’s control. Even if his approach to diplomacy might work to achieve a world where we there is no need to go to war, he’s assuming he’ll have time to put it in place after being elected PM before being faced with such a scenario.
  • it may be Russia’s (or another country’s) intent to invade an allied country regardless of any dialogue or diplomacy,
  • Corbyn seems unwilling to let us know whether he would or would not take military action in these circumstances, but this is surely an important thing we need to know for a would-be Prime Minister.

I conclude that Nato members cannot rely on a Corbyn government to honour the mutual defence pact should the need arise.




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