Brexit’s going pear-shaped. It’s aw gaun wrang, but it’s not because the British government possesses the negotiating skills of a three year old in the middle of a temper tantrum. Oh no. It’s not because Brexiteers have decided that the best way to deal with the issue of the Irish border is to treat it like a suspicious rash and ignore it in the hope that it will go away. It’s certainly not because Theresa May is trying to achieve an outcome which only exists in a parallel universe where David Davis strides the world stage like a colossus and the EU falls over itself to offer Britain everything it wants without any consequences. That’s the universe where you still have your cake long after it’s passed through of your digestive tract and out the other end to grace the contents of a Conservative party political broadcast. It’s not even because Brexit was always going to be like entrusting a damage limitation exercise to a bunch of pyromaniacs. The reason that Brexit is going to be a failure is none of these things. The real reason that Brexit is going to end up in a sorry and ruinously expensive humiliating mess is all because of Thatessempee. It’s great that that’s been cleared up then.
David Lidington, the Conservative Minister for Putting Uppity Scots Back in Their Box, was all over the newspapers on Sunday in order to blame Thatessempee for threatening the glorious sunny uplands of a freebooting Brexit. How dare the Scottish government insist that the Conservatives can’t be allowed to use Brexit to overturn the foundations of the devolution settlement. How very dare Thatessempee point out that it’s not just the results of the EU referendum that counts as the will of the people which must always be respected. It’s only Tories who get to lecture others on respecting the results of referendums. It’s not fair for Nicola Sturgeon to do it as well. It’s out of order for the Scottish government to demand that the Conservatives respect the result of the referendum of 1997 and to respect the promises and commitments that they made to the people of Scotland in 2014 in order to secure a No vote.
According to David L., Brexit is at risk because the Scottish government want the British government to abide by the devolution settlement. Despite reports in the press that the Conservatives were going to back off and concede that devolved powers currently being exercised by the EU should be restored to Holyrood after Brexit, it turns out that they have no intentions of doing so. And if you’re surprised by that, you probably also thought that David Mundell is a strong and effective voice for Scotland in the UK cabinet. The Fluffy one is such a strong and effective voice that there was no need for him to be present at the cabinet’s recent meeting about Brexit because it made no difference whether he was in the room or yelling all the way from Dumfries, the rest of the cabinet were still not going to listen to him.
It’s not even that the devolved powers currently exercised by Brussels are going to be held by the Westminster parliament after Brexit, which would be bad enough. It’s worse than that, the powers are going to be held by Conservative cabinet ministers under the so-called Henry VIII powers. Scotland will have absolutely no means of holding them to account. This overturns the very foundations of the devolution settlement which Scotland approved in the referendum of 1997, and which was – theoretically – strengthened and entrenched by the result of the referendum of 2014.
There is no way that the Scottish parliament is going to consent to what the Tories have in mind. It doesn’t matter that the Conservatives might be prepared to devolve some powers after a time, or might hold on to fewer than they had originally intended. It’s not the business of the Scottish parliament to reduce its powers and to go along with a Conservative decision to unilaterally overturn the devolution settlement just to help Theresa May and the swivel eyed Brexiteers in her party she’s trying to placate get out of a hole of their own making. It’s not the business of the Scottish government to assist the British government in a course of action which impact studies carried out by both the Scottish and British governments have demonstrated will damage Scotland’s interests.
Lidington’s speech means that the British government isn’t going to back down and agree to respect the devolution settlement. We’re heading straight for a constitutional crisis, one which the Conservatives and their allies in the British nationalist media are going to portray as reasonable offers from a thoughtful and generous British government being rejected out of hand by vile Scottish nationalists in order to further their separatist agenda. It’s not like the British government ever wanted a deal in the first place. If they were sincere they would have ensured that Clause 11 of the EU exit bill was debated in the House of Commons. They’re positioning themselves to blame the Scots for the failure of Brexit. Their failures and shortcomings are all the fault of Thatessempee.
In no particular order, the failure of Brexit to meet the fantasies of Little England nationalists is the fault of Remainers. It’s the fault of the Irish. It’s the fault of the EU. It’s the fault of Thatessempee. The only people who have absolutely no responsibility for how Brexit is working out are the people driving it. The people who are insistent that they can achieve six impossible things before Brexit have no responsibility at all for their own delusions. Although to be fair, here in Scotland we genuinely have no idea whether the Conservatives bear any responsibility for how Brexit is working out because Ruth Davidson is almost invisible and won’t answer questions on anything except her favourite recipes in Bake Off.
The fact is that if the Conservatives are prepared to risk the Irish peace agreement in order to slay the mythical monsters which inhabit the dreams of English nationalism, they’re sure as hell not going to hesitate to trample all over the Scottish and Welsh devolution settlements. Brexit has exposed the reality of the so-called Union. It’s nothing more than a fig leaf covering a reactionary and backward looking Little England nationalism which will blame the Scots and the Irish for its own incoherence. English nationalism can have its hard Brexit, or it can have the Irish peace process and the Union. The Conservatives are opting for hard Brexit, and in doing so they are killing off the Union they claim to love. They’ve only got themselves to blame.
The Wee Ginger Dug has got a new domain name, thanks to Indy Poster Boy, Colin Dunn @Zarkwan. http://www.indyposterboy.scot/ You can now access this blog simply by typing www.weegingerdug.scot into the address bar of your browser, the old address continues to function, the new one redirects to the blog. The advantage of the new address is that it’s a lot easier to remember if you want to include a link to the blog in leaflets, posters, or simply to tell a friend about it. Many thanks to Colin.
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