This week was the second anniversary of the Brexit referendum. Twenty four months down the line and any reasonable person would have expected that any halfway competent government would have used this time for careful planning, highly detailed project management, and comprehensive decision making, all of which should have laid out a clear road map for the glorious post Brexit future which we were assured is going to await the UK. By this stage in the game, with the date when the UK is out of the EU looming, we should have had some sense of what the government is aiming for.
Instead, what we’ve got is a toxic mix of confusion, in-fighting, wishful thinking, fantasy, nostalgia, and sheer utter self-delusion, all of which have created a deep uncertainty and instability and the looming threat of a catastophic expulsion from Europe which will poison our links with those countries which are supposed to be our closest allies. Jobs are at risk, public services are threatened, businesses are making plans to relocate elsewhere, and the UK has turned into a peripheral and unimportant state which is only prevented from being the laughing stock of the world because it does not have Donald Trump as head of state.
We have all those things, in fact, which supporters of the British state claimed that were in store for Scotland if this country had opted for independence in 2014, and which could only be avoided by remaining a part of the UK. Is that what they meant by telling us that by voting against independence Scotland could have the best of both worlds? Still, at least we know what currency we’re using eh. It’s just a pity that it’s worth a lot less now than it was two years ago.
Here we are, two years down the line, and we still have no idea what the British government’s Plan A is. We had a general election which was supposed to give Theresa May her mandate to seek whatever kind of Brexit suited her, the result being that she lost her majority as the electorate looked upon the self-centredness, the confusion, the greed, the xenophobia, and said “naaa”. But despite losing her majority Theresa hasn’t changed tack.
Two years ago we were told that a soft Brexit was remaining a part of the customs union and the single market, a hard Brexit was leaving them, and crashing out with no deal at all was an unthinkable calamity that no one was even considering. Two years down the line and now we’re told that not leaving the single market and the customs union is no Brexit at all, leaving them with a deal is a soft Brexit, and the swivel eyed British nationalists in the Conservative cabinet think any sort of accommodation at all with the EU is a betrayal. The prospect of crashing out of the EU with no deal is a very real prospect.
It’s a litany of depressing gloom that’s worse than a November weather forecast. There’s no realistic plan to solve the conundrum of the Irish border. British citizens who live in other EU states and EU citizens who live in the UK have no clear idea of what’s going to happen after Brexit. Health workers are leaving the NHS and going abroad. There is no planning for the queues and delays that will be created at ferry ports as lorries use motorways as parking lots. Successive British governments have always relied on the financial sector to drive the British economy, but this week the European Banking Authority warned that Britain’s preparations for the impact of Brexit on the financial sector are inadequate. The EU’s most senior banking regulator has advised that banks should proceed on the assumption that the UK would crash out of the EU in March 2019 without a deal. Airbus and other major companies have announced that they are having to consider whether to shift production and other facilities out of the UK. Instead of the promised bonanza of extra spending because the UK will no longer be contributing to the EU, we’re faced with an unprecedented squeeze on public spending, a massive ballooning in government borrowing, and rises in taxes.
Any normal person who was responsible for this magnitude of fuckwitted-fuckuppery would be traumatised by the sheer horror and disaster that they had unleashed upon millions of people and would be unable to sleep easily in their beds, kept constantly awake by the terror of realising the harm that they have caused, crying into their pillow as they desperately tried to make peace with whatever deity they worship. But Theresa May’s government are not normal people. They get to sleep just fine, in coffins, wearing full evening dress. The only god they worship is the god of their own ambition. They don’t give a toss about the effect of Brexit on the rest of us. They’re going to be just fine.
Meanwhile, Tony Blair warns that we’re at risk of a return to the dark politics of the 1930s, apparently unaware that he’s possibly the single individual who has done more than anyone else to destroy public trust in traditional politics. The UK is descending down a dark and threatening path, the safe accepting place that Scotland was promised it could be a partner of back in 2014 doesn’t exist. The Britain that Scotland was told it was a part of doesn’t exist. There’s only the vainglorious Britain of shattered dreams and broken promises.
Two years after the Brexit vote, and there has been no meaningful input into the process from Scotland. So much for being a valued and much loved partner in a family of nations. The British government is instead using Brexit as an excuse to undermine the devolution settlement in its pursuit of a post-Brexit unitary state. That is not what Scotland voted for in 2014. Westminster disrespects Scotland, lies about it, then comes to us smiling and claiming that there’s nothing wrong. Well there is plenty wrong. Not taking action when you are disrespected is the most certain guarantee that the disrespect will continue. You cannot collaborate with those who treat you with contempt.
Amidst all the confusion, the muddle, the uncertainty, two years after the Brexit vote one thing at least is clear. If Scotland wants respect from Westminster, we need to start with self-respect. That means this country needs to start making its decisions and acting on them.
Mapa Gàidhlig na h-Alba / Gaelic Map of Scotland
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