With Nicola Sturgeon saying IndyRef2 is on the cards I wonder if anybody has thought about this carefully.
IndyRef was a relatively straightforward decision on whether Scotland should be independent. The issues around EU membership and currency were very much pushed into the pile of things to be dealt with once there was a mandate for independence.
IndyRef2 is going to be infinitely more complex for two reasons:
- Although the UK has voted to leave the EU it hasn’t yet started the procedure to do so. It may be that there’s negotiation and then a 2nd referendum on whether to accept a re-negotiated EU deal or to really leave. Those negotiations might, theoretically at least, all take place without the UK ever formally starting the process to end its EU membership. Even when the Big Red Button™ is pushed it simply starts the clock ticking on the UK’s 2 year notice period to leave. So, in theory at least, the whole IndyRef2 and process for Scotland leaving the UK could happen while the UK is negotiating it’s position with the EU and before it’s known for certain that the UK will leave the EU.
- This time around Scotland’s relationship with the EU post-independence isn’t incidental – it’s the key matter, but the EU can’t guarantee that an independent Scotland will be voted into the EU, and Scotland can’t be sure it could meet the requirements to join the Euro, in terms of reducing it’s deficit. The pro
Therefore, if Scotland votes ‘No’ a second time matters are relatively straightforward; Scotland’s fate will remain tied to the rest of the UK’s.
If, however, there’s a ‘Yes’ vote to independence then there are 4 possible outcomes, all of which are wholly or partly outside of the control of the Scottish electorate.
|UK leaves EU?||EU Accepts Scotland?||Outcome|
|Yes||No||Everyone in Scotland starves|
|No||No||Everyone leaves Scotland. Nation converted to out-of-town parking for Carlisle|
The best possible outcome is the third one – Scotland maintains all of its trade relationships, virtue of the EU – but it’s also the one that offers the least legitimacy for Indyref2
The worst outcomes leaves Scotland independent and outside the EU, while the rest of the UK remains in; making it exponentially more complicated to set up trade and free movement of people between the neighbours. Remember, this isn’t something that Scotland might go independence knowing will be the outcome – it could be how the chips fall once Scotland is already well along the road to independence.
If there is an IndyRef2 then the electorate need to be very, very clear that the risk of negative isn’t “Project Fear” – it’s Project Russian Roulette and flags, not even the EU one, can save you.