When Irish eyes are smiling
One good thing about Brexit is that it has opened up a situation in Ireland that is similar to the one an independent Scotland would face.
Ireland is a country in the European Single Market bordering a country that is hell bent on leaving it. If Scotland were to become independent it would be in a similar situation. Therefore, as the process moves on, we can look to see what the UK is saying to Ireland in order to get an idea of how they would deal with Scotland. We can use this information to counter many silly scare stories that will no doubt be circulating.
This week Theresa May visited Ireland and spoke to the Irish Taoiseach, Enda Kenny. She also wrote an article in the Irish Times to coincide with her visit.
Do you remember back in 2014, one of the more emotional arguments used against Scottish independence was about how it would be a tragedy to split up families and break the bonds of history? The Better Together facebook page was churning out this nonsense on a daily basis. Spinning an idea that the interpersonal relationships British people have is somehow inversely correlated to Scotland taking control of its own destiny. There were worried parents frightened they’d never see their daughters again. Folk grumbling about the possibilities of needing their passports to go on a long weekend to the Lake District and suchlike. Ruth Davidson recently likened Scottish independence to fratricide.
Well, it is interesting how May starts her letter to Ireland.
So, it appears that the leader of the UK believes that even after a bloody recent history the UK and Ireland can continue to have a special cosy relationship, with Irish citizens in the UK continuing to have a special status. This is a pragmatic approach but it is the opposite of some of the hysteria we see when Scotland leaving the UK is mooted.
We have even had Scottish Tories floating the idea of passport control at the English/Scottish border. However, this is what May had to say to Ireland:
The Prime Minister has spoken. The argument that there may be passport control at an English/Scottish border can now be put to bed. We have an assurance the Common Travel Area will remain. Scotland is in the Common Travel Area and there is no reason for this not to continue post Scottish independence. Again, this is a pragmatic move. However, some senior Tories like David Mundell are scaring Scotland with border control at the same time as backing May’s vision of a borderless relationship with Ireland post Brexit.
What about trade between the UK and Ireland post Brexit?
This quote highlights a contradiction at the heart of some of the messages we see from those who argue that Scotland should remain in the UK because of trade. The likes of Murdo Fraser say Scotland should stay in the UK as the UK is our biggest trading partner, while simultaneously promoting May’s vision of ‘strengthened’ trade ties with single market members.
You can’t have it both ways. Either May’s Brexit plans are going to fail or there won’t be problems with the UK/Scotland trade post Brexit. I don’t know which it will be but you can’t tell Ireland everything is going to be hunky-dory while at the same time frightening those who run businesses in Scotland.
We have written several blogs on trade recently and there are many variables on how an independent Scotland could be affected. In the event of Scottish independence there may be tariff free trade with the UK and there may not. The point is that it is clearly the UK’s intention to deliver tariff free trade with Ireland. Therefore we should take them at their word and question this when they threaten Scotland with post independence tariffs.
To sum up, Theresa may is promoting strong relations, free movement and free trade between the UK and Ireland post brexit. Why then are the Tories using arguments against Scotland that contradict this?
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