It must be a difficult psychological cross to bear, being a knee-jerk Unionist on Twitter. Scotland is shite. We couldn’t possibly afford it. We’re rubbish. It will all go horribly wrong. Anyway everyone hates us. After all, if you define love as the way that the Tory party treats us, then hate must be a very frightening prospect. Although thankfully Scotland won’t get the opportunity to be hated by Europe, because we’ll be vetoed by Spain, Malta, and that chorus line of Slovenian drag queens who were responsible for their Eurovision entry a few years back. Scotland scores null points in the Eurovision scoreboard of life.
The European Parliament has just appointed the former Belgian PM Guy Verhofstadt as its lead negotiator on Brexit. Guy’s the guy who said that Scotland’s desire to remain in the EU should be respected and that we’d be allowed to remain a member if we vote for independence before Brexit negotiations are concluded. There’s no big obstacle to Scotland remaining a member, Guy said just after the Tory’s Brexit galactofuck inserted itself like an alien anal probe into the body politic of Scotland. Later he remarked that Scotland wouldn’t have to go to the back of any queue. Our membership of the EU would be seamless and unproblematic.
Guy’s the man who slated UKIP for racism and extremism after the Brexit vote. He condemned their abuse of an image of Syrian refugees. After the EU referendum said that the silver lining was that at least the EU would get rid of the biggest waste in its budget – the salary and expenses of Nigel Farage. After Nige’s failed attempt to become an MP, Guy mocked his return to the EU Parliament telling him “Welcome back to the big election loser.” You can see why UKIP and the Tory right isn’t happy that he’s been appointed as the EU Parliament’s chief negotiator on Brexit. Scotland’s got friends in high places, and one friend in particular who is deeply sympathetic to Scotland’s desire to remain in the EU and deeply antipathetic to the Tories’ Brexit project. That’s got to hurt.
Now you might imagine that the person who’s going to be negotiating with the British government on behalf of the EU Parliament might know a thing or three about Scotland’s real prospects of remaining a part of the EU, but apparently this is not the case. At least not if you’re a dedicated Unionist user of social media. Being an avid reader of the hate filled diatribes of the Daily Mail, the increasingly demented rantings of the Express, and the bilious frothings of the Telegraph gives you a far greater insight into the operations of the European Union and its institutions than being an EU parliamentarian of many years’ standing and the leader of its grouping of liberal MEPs. It doesn’t matter what Guy says, some guy on Twitter says that Scotland’s going to get vetoed by Spain, and we’ll have to adopt the Euro. And he ended his Tweet with End Of. So that settles the matter definitively.
I’ve already detailed on this blog why Scotland isn’t going to be vetoed by Spain in order to discourage the Catalans. That’s because a Spanish veto of a Scotland that achieves independence peacefully and fully in accord with what passes for a British constitution will only inflame Catalan opinion and make the position of Madrid untenable.
In fact since the Brexit vote even figures at the highest level of the Spanish government, which is no fan of separatist movements, have changed their tune and have been speaking considerably more sympathetically about the possibility of Scottish independence. Just a few weeks ago the Spanish foreign minister, José Manuel García-Margallo said that he expected that within four to five years the UK would return to England’s 16th century borders as a result of Brexit. He said that’s what happens when a ruling party falls under the influence of political extremists like UKIP, and he expected Scotland to seek another independence referendum as a consequence. So much for a Spanish veto then. Although he did threaten to veto Westminster’s Brexit if they want to include Gibraltar, which means the only explicit veto threat that Spain has ever made in connection with the UK, Scotland and the EU has been a threat to veto Westminster and the Tories, not Scotland. Ouch.
Spain would still prefer that there was no Scottish independence movement, but the morning after a Yes vote in a Scottish independence referendum the newspapers in Spain will be headlining a statement from the Spanish government saying, “We’ve said all along that Scotland is a totally different set of circumstances from Catalonia.”
Now one of the main representatives of the EU in negotiations with the UK is a man who is deeply opposed to giving the UK and special deals or privileges, and who is committed to the principle that the single market cannot be separated from the free movement of people. He has also said that it’s wrong for Scotland to be taken out of the EU when it voted to stay, and that if Scotland wants to stay, it can stay. He’s happy to discuss Scottish membership of the EU with Nicola Sturgeon.
The EU Parliament is only one of the three main EU institutions which will be represented in the Brexit negotiations. The EU Commission and the EU Council will also be represented and arguably have more influence than the EU Parliament. But the point remains that Scotland has friends and allies at the very highest levels of the EU, and the next time we go into an independence referendum it’s going to be a whole lot harder for the Unionist parties to argue that if Scotland votes for independence it’s going to be thrown out of the EU and sent to the back of the queue. Mind you, that won’t stop them from saying that, the difference is that there won’t be figures like Barosso making statements favourable to the UK’s position, because if an EU representative makes statements favourable to the UK’s position, then by definition they’ll be making statements detrimental to the EU’s bargaining position. That puts Scotland in a very strong place.
Some people in this country still prefer to believe that Scotland is friendless and isolated, and that we must throw ourselves on the tender mercies of Theresa May and her right wing cabal in Westminster. The truth is that Scotland has more friends in Europe than Westminster does.
Audio version of this blog article, courtesy of Sarah Mackie @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/wee-ginger-dug-9th-sept-2016
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