As the Commons continues to be deadlocked over Brexit, and a no deal crashing out looms, the blame game has got into full swing. So at least MPs are able to agree on something. They’re all able to agree that it’s not their party’s fault. Brexcrementalists blame the EU and remainers. Theresa May blames the House of Commons. David Mundell who hasn’t resigned yet and Labour’s Ian Murray blame the SNP.
What is worrying is that the Conservative party leadership is quite likely to go for a no-deal Brexit as their least-worst option once May’s deal is finally declared so dead that not even the voodoo zombie spells of the Prime Minister can revive it. By least-worst that does of course mean that it would be the least-worst option for the Conservative party, not the least-worst option for everyone else. For the rest of us, a no-deal Brexit would be chaotic. It threatens jobs. It threatens the supply of vital medicines. It threatens all our futures. Yet it’s the most likely outcome because it’s the outcome which does least damage to the Conservative party. Bugger the rest of us.
The Conservative party doesn’t want another referendum because they fear that Brexit would be lost and angry leave voters would reject the party in a subsequent election and their own overwhelmingly leave supporting membership would flounce off en masse to Nigel Farage. They don’t want a snap General Election because there’s no conceivable manifesto on Brexit around which the party could coalesce. They don’t want a long extension to Article 50 because then the UK would have to participate in the European elections and the Conservatives would get thrashed. They don’t want a closer relationship with the EU because then they can’t pose as being tough on immigration and it makes it harder for them to threaten Scotland with a hard border in a future independence referendum. They don’t even want a customs union because then the UK can’t make its own trade deals with Mauretania and they’ll be accused of betrayal by the right wing press.
This mess is now and has always been about the narrow party interests of the Conservative party. It’s a shockingly reprehensible state of affairs. They are quite prepared to trash the entire UK in order to preserve their own party advantage. They’d accept no-deal because the careerists in the cabinet with their eye on the leadership know that the Brexit extremists in the party membership would be happy with it, and that’s the wildly unrepresentative electorate which will choose the next Prime Minister. They’d accept no-deal because it’s got more support amongst the party membership than any other option. But mostly they’d accept no-deal because then they’d be able to blame everyone else for the disaster that their own selfishness and short-sightedness had created. They’ll blame remainers. They’ll blame the EU. They’ll blame Labour and the SNP. The only certainty remaining in British politics is that the Conservatives won’t accept any responsibility for a calamity that they themselves created.
Theresa May didn’t have to invoke Article 50 when she did. She rushed into it in order to give the Conservatives an advantage in the English local elections held the following month, and Labour foolishly went along with her. It was then and has always been about the short term political advantage of the Conservatives. Then she wasted two years with her Brexit means Brexit nonsense, and her refusal to engage with anyone except the right wing of her own party. She imposed entirely unnecessary red lines in an attempt to placate the Brexit extremists, and she treated remainers, Scotland, and the fraught issue of Northern Ireland with utter contempt pandering to the bigots of the DUP and refusing to listen to anyone else.
Everything is to be sacrificed on the altar of the narrow result produced by the 2016 referendum. The government chooses to turn a blind eye to the mountain of evidence that the campaign for leaving the EU was corrupt, deceitful, that it was founded in lies, in the omission of important facts, and that it promised a fantasy that could never be achieved. All we hear from this government is that the result must be honoured, even as it trashes the result of the Scottish referendum of 2014 when Scotland was promised that it would be an equal partner in a union, and that it must vote against independence in order to remain a part of the EU, and the referendum of 1997 when the people of Scotland voted for a devolution settlement that the British government has unilaterally undermined. Some referendum results and promises are clearly more important than others.
Yet even if some deal can be cobbled together, or Brexit delayed further or even if Article 50 was by some miracle revoked, the political future of the UK will be defined and deformed by Brexit for decades to come. Those who oppose Scottish independence bewail the political divisions caused by the indy debate. Yet if Scotland remains a part of the UK we’ll have both those divisions plus the divisions of Brexit. That’s our future as a subordinate North Britain. There’s only one way to make it all stop. There’s only one way to change the narrative, there’s only one way to end the UK’s blame game. That’s with independence.
The entire system of governance in the UK, the government, parliament, the unwritten constitution, and the wildly unrepresentative voting system, all of them are unfit for purpose. Yet even now, even as this crisis unfolds, there is no discussion about how to tackle the underlying issues, and no serious appetite in England for constitutional reform. Why should anyone want to live with a government which treats its citizens like this.
Why should Scotland want to live as part of a state which treats its citizens like this? We have a different choice. The choice facing Scotland is not the choice of Theresa May’s dead deal, or no-deal and crashing out of the EU. The choice facing Scotland is not a false choice between options which suit the Conservative party. The choice facing Scotland is whether to keep putting up with this, or whether to determine our own future.
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