Scotland’s way out

No deal is better than a bad deal.

Theresa May

My prediction is that the UK is heading for a no-deal Brexit. If Theresa May thinks what she had was a good deal, then all other deals must be a bad deal, so if all other deals are bad deals, then by her logic, we’d all be better off with no deal.

No one will get a deal that suits the majority because you can’t have the Customs Union without freedom of movement. One side don’t care about the Customs Union as long as freedom of movement is cancelled, and the other side don’t want a deal without the Customs Union.Therefore, a majority in the Commons will never be achieved no matter what deal is brought to the table by whoever – leaving this country in a situation where disaster contingency plans are being put in place and businesses are relocating their HQs.

The most obvious retort to this is that we will have a People’s vote. The country will make the right decision and we’ll all be saved from the scourge of Brexit…well I’m not as optimistic as you are. If this does go to another torturous referendum then I’m not so confident that the key sections of society, who would essentially make the difference, have changed their minds. They were never involved in politics in the first place, and whilst all this has been going on and both sides have been arguing tooth and nail, the key people are saying “I’m sick of listening to folk going on about Brexit.”

I don’t expect my main point to be very popular, but I now think that Scotland would be better off in the long-term leaving the UK, with the ambition of applying as a new member of the EU and adopting the Euro as currency, if we are forced into a NO DEAL situation.

Brexit has weakened the long-term prospects of the UK and left the door open to further regression. The future certainly doesn’t look bright, either, with hardline Tory Brexiteers queuing up to take the reins.

Whilst my plan would have a short-term impact on the economy, the long-term future of Scotland would be more optimistic than the bleak road we’re being led down. Wealth distribution would be fairer, the equality gap will be minimised, and businesses may find Scotland a more appealing place if it’s part of the EU.

This strategy could benefit the Scottish Lib Dems in several ways. It would attract independence supporters who feel the SNP hasn’t delivered, if they are offered a realistic strategy. It might make the rest of the UK think again about Brexit if the Union is at stake. It would also be a massive statement that shows the Lib Dems have the people’s best interests at heart. A referendum can be achieved through a coalition agreement with Labour, should an election come about.

I’m keen to hear alternative ideas or solutions, because at the moment I’m struggling to see another more appealing avenue out of this.

* Cameron Paton is a Liberal Democrat member in Ayrshire, Scotland.

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24 Comments

  • Graham Martin-Royle 25th Jan '19 - 5:55pm

    I agree with Cameron, if the UK is to go down the road to no deal then Scotland, despite the initial upheaval will be better off outside the UK applying for membership of the EU.

  • Cameron, I’m completely opposed to independence, But I’m pleased you have posted this and I want the Scottish party to include people like yourself who are pro independence as well as people like me who are anti.
    And also, I will concede frankly that you make a fair case. IF Brexit happens then we will be in a different world and maybe it will be time to reconsider independence. (or it may mean it’s even important to stick together).
    BUT my main point is you are putting the cart before the horse. We can stop Brexit, and we need to focus on that. As for people not changing their minds, have a look at this: it is every poll taken on Brexit since June 2016. The graph at the top of the page says it all. https://britainelects.com/polling/europe/
    I’m not complacent: we need to fight like hell. But there is cause for optimism.

  • John Marriott 25th Jan '19 - 7:08pm

    All I would say is “Don’t rule out a deal”.

  • And of course any solution, administrative or technological, which keeps an open border between Ireland in the EU and NI outside the EU could also be applied to a future Scotland/England border which has many fewer crossing points.

  • Mich Taylor 25th Jan '19 - 8:18pm

    “but I now think that Scotland would be better off in the long-term leaving the UK, with the ambition of applying as a new member of the EU and adopting the Euro as currency, if we are forced into a NO DEAL situation” – pretty much my own thinking

  • As a non-Scottish resident, I hesitate to venture an opinion on this subject – but am glad to see that I’m evidently not the only Lib Dem member to feel that it may be a mistake for our party to continue slavishly parroting the U.K. unionist line. In any case, why have we never really actively campaigned for a more distinctly federalist constitutional settlement for the U.K. as a whole (in line with long established Lib Dem policy)?

    However, in my opinion, the prospect of Brexit (of any sort, but especially the “no deal” variety) does significantly transform the dynamics of the Scottish independence debate. If the ‘People’s Vote’ Campaign is ultimately unsuccessful and Brexit becomes a reality (much as we may hope otherwise, this is probably still more likely than not), such an outcome would be strongly contrary to the will of the Scottish people who voted 62% for ‘Remain’.

    In these circumstances, the case for Scottish independence would be increasingly difficult to deny – especially since the ‘No’ Campaign repeatedly argued in the 2014 referendum that the best way for Scotland to retain the benefits of EU membership was to remain in the U.K.! If (despite these assurances) Brexit happens, Scots should therefore clearly have the right to choose which union – the U.K. or the EU – they value most … and they may well decide that that they’d be “better together” with the EU27.

  • A bit unrealistic and “left field” but the UK could remain in the EU with England coming out of the EU – just as Greenland is not part of the EU although it is part of Denmark which is but qualifies as a one of the EU countries’ overseas countries and territories (OCT).

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenland%E2%80%93European_Union_relations

  • Essentially free trade is incompatible with protectionism. And all forms of Brexit are protectionism – the greatest evil we face.

  • You say: “but I now think that Scotland would be better off in the long-term leaving the UK, with the ambition of applying as a new member of the EU and adopting the Euro as currency, if we are forced into a NO DEAL situation”. I agree with the first 2 elements but strenuously disagree with the third (joining the euro). The powerfull unelected elements of the neo-liberal EU project (the Commission and the ECB) have treated eurozone member Greece appallingly – view the statistics – and recently Italy had to reverse its budget plans after EU pressure. The only successful future for Scotland is with its own currency (and the SNP laughably argues for adopting the Pound Sterling for 10 years after independence!). Scotland in seeking to be free from the UK must not then shackle itself to another more powerful currency union that does not have Scotland’s interests at heart.

  • Gwyn Williams 26th Jan '19 - 10:33am

    A Customs Union does not have tariffs imposed on goods from the member states. It is the free trade area known as the internal or Single market which requires freedom of movement of people, goods, capital and services. Scotland and England have been in the same free trade area and customs union for 300 years. It is proving extremely difficult to extract ourselves from a 45 year old Union. How can it be the a solution to that problem to cause yet more disruption by breaking up a 300 year old union.

  • The big problem with campaigning for Scottish independence as a reaction to Brexit is that it’s not going to solve the problems caused by Brexit, and will instead bring new problems. When Cameron says there will be some short-term pain from leaving the UK, but he thinks it will result in long-term gain – how short-term, and what level of pain does he consider to be acceptable.

    He assumes that we’ll just be able to rejoin the EU, so presumably he expects and independent Scotland to reduce our deficit to the required 3% How does he think this will be achieved? How will an independent Scotland deal with the loss of the fiscal transfer? Do you propose we just cut public services, or increase taxes – and by how much?

    I understand that people are angry at idiots such as Boris Johnston and Jacob Rees-Mogg with their irresponsible approach to insisting that Britain will be much better outwith the EU because we’re British and better than Europeans, but once people stop to think for a moment, does that really justify insisting that Scotland would be better outwith the UK because we’re Scottish, and not like those racist English people?

    There is huge misinformation out there about how ‘easy’ it might be for Scotland to become independent and join the EU, but it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. We should learn from the mistakes of Brexit, not duplicate.

  • I have been waiting for someone to say what I have been thinking for weeks. As a Londoner I was always against independence for Scotland but Cameron did promise that Scotland would stay in the EU as well as remain in the UK before that referendum. Well that have your cake and eat it hasn’t worked so I too agree that Scotland would thrive outside the UK fully as a member of the EU and totally agree with this article. Scotland has the infrastructure, industries and workforce, the potential to be a very successful country in its own right within the EU. Scotland voted to remain in the EU by a similar percentage to Londoners. I would happily move to Scotland if this happened, I am very disillusioned with living in England at the moment and I don’t think London can go on its own.

  • I doubt Cameron did promise Scotland would remain in the EU if a No vote was delivered, given that it was already in the Tory party manifesto that they intended to hold a referendum. IMO, this revised version of events is being peddled by the very nationalists who campaigned for Scotland to leave the UK and the EU in 2014. The only thing we knew for sure was that Scotland would stop being a member of the EU when it left the UK.

    marc, you say Scotland would thrive outwith the UK and in the EU. How do you see Scotland joining the EU? Why do you think it’s given? How do you imagine and independent Scotland would deal with its deficit? If you think it’s been complicated to detangle the UK from the EU, do you really think that separating Scotland from a much older, and more entwined union with a SHARED CURRENCY will be easy? I’m sure you know that Scotland currently does 4 times the trade with the rest of the UK as it does with the rest of the EU. Do you think creating new barriers with our biggest trading partners will help Scotland thrive?

    It’s all very well for you to imaging of moving to a Scotland in the EU as a nice option for you in the future, but you would have the luxury of waiting to see if it all worked out as promised. Londoners telling Scots that it would be easy to leave the UK is not that different to having all of these Brexiteers telling us that we should be more patriotic, as they apply for French residency and/or move their businesses to the Republic of Ireland. It’s easy to ignore the pitfalls when you know you’ll never have to face them personally.

  • Andrew Melmoth 26th Jan '19 - 2:26pm

    Voting to stay in the UK has turned out to be utterly disastrous for Scotland. What a bleak future we face now. A Brexit decade or more of economic and political crises, permanent, irretrievable losses to our national well-being, forced against our will to live poorer, narrower lives. How much wiser to have taken our destiny into our own hands.

  • Arnold Kiel 26th Jan '19 - 5:00pm

    I sympathise with the Scottish wish to remain in the EU, and the resulting appetite for independence from England. But it would create a new Irish border problem. A better idea would be: both the SNP and Sinn Fein offer a 20 year standstill on independence/Irish reunification, if the UK stopped Brexit. Then listen to the Queen.

  • Matt (bristol) 26th Jan '19 - 7:44pm

    I am beginning to wonder if instead of ‘deal’ or ‘no-deal’ we could instead get a ‘phantom deal’; ie we do in fact leave under what is technically WTO rules, but that’s obviated but some quickly rustled up bilateral agreements, but with and then there’s a fudge cooked up so we enter into something that looks surprisingly like May’s proposed ‘transition period’ … but we never really move on to the mooted next stage which we keep being told is just about to happen.

    In that situation, it could be hard for _everyone_ who wants a decisive break (whether that’s those of us who might like to return, whether as individual nations / autonomous regions, or Tory factionalists who want a so-called ‘clean Brexit’) – because we won’t realise what’s happened until long after it’s happened…

    Of course, that sort of sustained governmental deliberate weakness and deliberate ambiguity could destroy democratic and constitutional trust, fundamentally whichever part of the UK you’re in…

  • Here’s the thing. The Libs Dems are not in power, have very few MPs and three of them abstained rather than vote against triggering article 50. The Labour Party is the biggest party in opposition and they want to force an election rather than Die Volksabstimmung. Plus, there is also doubt about any kind of extension beyond March 29th even being possible and thus there is also not really enough time to hold it anyway. Meanwhile, the clock just keeps ticking away which favours leaving under WTO.
    So whilst all this no compromise stuff is no doubt inspiring to the troops, it’s basically the rallying trumpet call to form the thin yellow line for Captain Custard’s last stand.

  • Peter Hirst 27th Jan '19 - 3:37pm

    What scares me is the thought of us leaving the eu without a deal because no alternative is found in time. If that happens Scotland would benefit from an independence referendum. I would prefer for the vote to be non-political but that is up to the Scottish parliament.

  • Teresa Wilson 27th Jan '19 - 8:54pm

    Well, that sounds fine and dandy for Scotland.

    A case of “I’m all right Jock”?

  • Dan Falchikov 27th Jan '19 - 8:54pm

    So almost no support for Willie Rennie and the Scottish Liberal Unionist position? Interesting.

  • @Dan Falchikov

    “So almost no support for Willie Rennie and the Scottish Liberal Unionist position? Interesting.”

    Yes and reflective of a continuing shift in Scottish public opinion which shows that any Brexit produces a majority of people supporting independence/

    To be fair though, Fiona is still keeping up the party line that this is a good as it gets, Scotland is to wee and poor to do anything else, and we just need to eat our cereal!

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