This was first posted on Facebook on 3rd February 2020, with support from my Ko-Fi network.
“There is no need for a free trade agreement to involve accepting EU rules on competition policy, subsidies, social protection, the environment, or anything similar any more than the EU should be obliged to accept UK rules,” says Boris Johnson’s pre-written speech for Monday 3rd February, leaked Saturday.
The negotiations are not due to begin til Sunday 1st March, and the trade deal must have been negotiated, checked, translated, and presented to the European Parliament before the close of the penultimate European Parliament plenary session of 2020, which is Thursday 26th November. The UK can ask for an extension on the 31st December deadline if we do so by 30th June, but Boris Johnson has already said he isn’t going to do that.
In November 2017, I wrote that the idea of having a second EU referendum was a “superficially-attractive option with very high stakes”.
So it still is, and I stand by everything I wrote a year ago about the risks and dangers of a second referendum: including the risk that Leave might still win.
We do know a lot more now about how the Leave campaign unlawfully gathered data uon UK voters, how they used that data to target adverts on Facebook, and how they illegally overspent the limits set by the Electoral Commission.
May’s deal was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of the Deal’s burial was signed by the Presidents of the European Commission and the European Council, by France, Sweden, Spain and Belgium, by the Chairman of the European Research Group, and the chief mourner. Leo Varadkar signed it: and Leo Varadkar’s name was good upon Fine Gael, for anything he chose to put his hand to. May’s deal was as dead as a door-nail.
Theresa May’s deal is the EU’s deal.
Our three choices before 29th March 2019 are
- May’s deal, which is bad
- No-deal Brexit, which is catastrophic
- or Remain in the EU
In less than four months, we’ll go to the polls to vote Yes or No to the question:
“Should Scotland be an independent country?”
And today, the campaign period for the referendum officially begins.
But as I pointed out a few weeks ago (and Simon Jenkins pointed out yesterday) the SNP are not offering independence: they want major decisions for Scotland’s governance to be made at Westminster/in London. (It’s all in the White Paper: haven’t you read it?)
Everyone in Scotland is so focussed on the referendum that they’re forgetting the European elections on 22nd May. (And that’s worrying, because low turnout is how parties like UKIP get in.)
Illustrating this forgetfulness about the European elections, last night on Have I Got News For You an English comedian made a joke about “Methadone elections” and Susan Calman took audible offence because she’d forgotten about the EuroElections and thought he meant the independence referendum was methadone: but the English comedian had forgotten about the Scottish referendum – he was making a joke about the methadone of the European Parliament elections compared to the heroin smack of a General Election.
David Coburn, who is UKIP’s London Regional Chair, is the leading UKIP candidate for Scotland in the European elections in May.
This being Scotland, UKIP are polling better than the LibDems, who are still sliding into their slow electoral wipeout for giving Scotland a Tory government at Westminster again. (It’s not that we’re vengeful. It’s quite possible that LibDems will recover in Scotland. After the last of the current batch of politicians has lost their seats, MP, MSP, and MEP, and Nick Clegg is kicked out and the LibDems after 2015 start pulling themselves back together again and trying to figure out what they’re for, well… sometime after that, Scotland might start voting them again. It’s not that we’re vengeful. It’s just that we think cheating politicians who put Tory governments into office should suffer humiliating electoral defeats until morale improves.)
There are many sensible arguments to be made for and against Scottish independence.
It is depressing that so much time has been spent on a non-argument: Scottish membership in the European Union.
If Scotland were to become independent, the rUK would still be a EU nation, and Scotland would have to apply for EU membership, UN recognition, and would have to ratify the various international charters, treaties, and laws. None of this would be automatic, but none of this would be difficult to accomplish.
From the conclusions of the Presidency, Copenhagen 21-22 June 1993 – the Copenhagen criteria:
The European Council today agreed that the associated countries in Central and Eastern Europe that so desire shall become members of the European Union. Accession will take place as soon as an associated country is able to assume the obligations of membership by satisfying the economic and political conditions required.