Brexit deal destroys the key argument for staying in the UK
If you have listened to any pro-union politician speak in the last few years you will have heard the following phrase.
Scotland trades four times as much with the UK than it does with EU.
This constant repetition of the same phrase, month after month, interview after interview, is a deliberate tactic. Unlike readers of this blog, most members of the general public rarely engage with politics. So politicians repeat the same simple phrases thousands of times in the hope that they will eventually sink in. The overarching unionist plan was for this idea to become part of the public consciousness just in time for indyref2.
As discussed on these pages before, the actual figures behind this phrase are dubious.
Even No voting experts on the Scottish economy have expressed reservations about them being used as a scaremongering tactic because nobody knows the exact situation. No proper measures of inter-UK trade are recorded.
That said, I have long worried about the trade argument as it pointed to a potential problem with our chances of success in indyref2. Namely, a hard Brexit potentially makes independence a more difficult sell.
Sure, in the event of a hard exit, you could make the case that it would be madness to remain attached to a country that is willing to commit economic suicide and unleash such chaos upon itself. However, a hard-Brexit also demonstrates that the realpolitik that Scottish independence supporters use to brush away fearmongering doesn’t always happen. A hard Brexit shows that common sense doesn’t always win in these situations.
Instead, this weekend the UK and the EU have reached an agreement for moving forward that makes you wonder, what is the point of leaving the EU?
On most issues, we are leaving in practice but we have essentially committed to keeping things they way they were before. On this key issue of trade, the UK has promised no hard border with Ireland and, in the absence of any alternative agreement, it has promised to keep our rules aligned with those of the EU Customs Union and the EU Single Market.
As we predicted months ago, this totally blows out of the water the scaremongering around UK/Scotland trade. Simply put, there won’t be a hard border between an independent Scotland and the UK.
The other thing we learned this week is the point of being in the EU.
It gives countries, even relatively small countries like Ireland, much more clout than they would otherwise have. May’s red lines, as well as the demands of the hard-Brexiteers, have been trampled all over by the larger, more powerful, union.
All in all, the culmination of the first round of negotiations between the EU and the UK, makes the case for Scottish independence stronger. We don’t need to worry about trade if the UK is committed to free trade with the EU.
Scotland, within the more powerful European Economic Area, but still having a strong trading relationship with our nearest neighbour, is a very sellable proposition.
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