Scotland must decide if it wants to be treated like a region or a country
Scotland: A Region or a Country?
Whilst parliament has remained sovereign throughout our membership of the EU, it has not always felt like that.
This line in the UK government article 50 white paper highlights a glaring lie at the heart of Brexit. The idea that being part of the EU robbed the UK of its sovereignty.
Whatever your opinion about where decisions affecting the UK should be made, that some were made in Brussels had nothing to do with sovereignty. The UK made a sovereign decision to join the EU and has been able to make a sovereign decision to leave. Despite what many will tell you, the EU is not a unitary state. It is an organisation consisting of sovereign countries who each chose to cede some authority because they believe that collectively they have more power.
This collective power enabled us to negotiate stronger trade deals, bring down economic barriers, share knowledge better, manage resources more efficiently and prevent the type of wars that have historically rocked the continent.
All of the achievements of the EU, such as the single market, a cohesive climate change strategy, and the curtailment of Iran’s nuclear programme would not have been possible by a UK working alone.
The important point of this is that the UK was an integral, respected and equal force within the EU. We had an opt out on certain policies we did not like such as the Schengen Zone and the Euro. We played a key and influential role in all EU legislative processes. We had as much of a right to shape the direction of the organisation as any other state.
Being a sovereign nation is a laudable goal, but you can’t take back sovereignty when you already have it.
The same type of people who talk about wanting to return British sovereignty also try to discourage Scottish independence by using the type of language those in favour of the EU use. That we are better together, pooling and sharing resources and that the UK is a family of equals. Kezia Dugdale recently made this case at the same time as describing Scottish independence supporters and Brexiteers as two sides of the same coin. However, the main difference between the two is obvious. Whereas the Brexiteers were trying to make an already sovereign nation sovereign, supporters of Scottish independence are trying to make a subordinate nation a normal one.
While the arguments used in 2014 by the likes of Dugdale may have made sense then, Brexit makes Scotland’s lack of sovereignty blatantly obvious. It blows those Better Together tropes out of the water. Consider the facts:
- The party that called the Brexit referendum received less than 15 percent of the vote in Scotland at the last general election.
- Scotland voted to stay in the EU but we have to leave regardless.
- The Scottish Parliament does not even need to be consulted about its views on article 50.
- The Great Repeal Bill, which is a mechanism for replacing EU law with UK law will mean that the UK government will have to change the devolution settlement. It also paves the way for the UK government altering laws that should be made in Holyrood.
- Control over competencies like agriculture and fishing are currently held by Holyrood but controlled at EU level. Already senior conservatives are talking about having those powers returned to Westminster.
- One solution to our lack of sovereignty is a second independence referendum but we actually need to ask permission from Westminster to have one.
- Just like in the case of the EU referendum, a Scottish independence referendum would only be advisory. So even if there was a Yes vote with a large majority, legally we would need the UK parliament to agree to action the results.
Now this blatant lack of sovereignty might not matter to some. Many will argue that a UK citizen living in Scotland is just as well represented as any other UK citizen.
That is a fair enough point but only makes sense if you accept that Scotland is merely a region. It should be a true union of nations. It was sold to us by Better Together as such and it is how most of us envision it.
A big question for those who voted no in the previous independence referendum should be to decide if Scotland to them is a country or a region. If you think and feel we are a country then it would be a travesty to vote no again. For sovereign countries don’t get treated like this. If the UK was treated like this by the EU then I might well have been a Brexiteer myself.