Brexit: ScottishIndependenceFilter
August 12, 2019 4:59 AM   Subscribe

There are 80 days until Brexit. It seems increasingly likely that the UK will 'crash out' without a deal, with extremely serious and damaging consequences. Increasingly, it appears that one of these could well be the end of the UK itself...

While economists and business leaders, police and spooks, medics and scientists warn of imminent disaster, the government assures us that all will be well in the best of all possible worlds and HM Treasury announces a commemorative shiny bottle-top fifty pence piece declaring ‘peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations,’ because irony is dead.

Polling has shown that Conservatives who support Brexit are so desperate for it to happen that, as well as being perfectly fine with the economic harm that, again, we are repeatedly told definitely by Brexiteers won’t happen anyway and, remarkably, would countenance the destruction of their own party to achieve that end, they would also accept the break-up of the UK to achieve Brexit.

Which might be just as well, because a recent poll by Tory peer Lord Ashcroft suggests that the Scots are increasingly considering the ‘independence liferaft’ (onto which SNP First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has invited any rUK Brexit-refusniks who wish to climb aboard).

Any independence referendum, however, would require the consent of Westminster, under a Section 30 Order temporarily transferring legal competence to the Scottish Parliament to hold one. Declaring – with, at best, tendentious evidence – that there was a ‘promise’ at the time from the SNP that the 2014 poll would be a ‘once in a generation’ referendum, Johnson’s Conservatives say they would would not grant such an Order (in this, at least, they are continuing something Theresa May said or did). Newly-minted Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson agrees. Both assert – in the face of that Ashcroft poll – that the Scottish people do not want another.

Nationalists counter that a new poll is warranted given (i) their dominanace in the devolved Scottish Parliament, in Scottish seats at Westminster, in European Parliament seats and at the local government level (all of which have had elections post-Brexit referendum) along with (ii) their stated position in the last Scottish Parliament election that they would seek a new independence poll in the event of a ‘material change in circustances,’ such a – specificaly – Scotland being ‘taken out of the EU against its will.’ Scotland voted, by around 2-to1, to Remain, a coniderably higher margin than the UK-wide (or even English) vote to Leave

Labour’s position, like almost everything Brexit-related, on the other hand, seems… somewhat unclear.

Labour in Scotland oppose a new poll and oppose also the granting of a Section 30 Order to hold one. The Labour Chancellor, John McDonnell, at a recent Edinburgh Festival Fringe event, disagreed stating:

"They will take a view about whether they want another referendum. Nicola Sturgeon said by late next year or the beginning of 2021. The Scottish Parliament will come to a considered view on that and they will submit that to the Government and the English Parliament [sic!!] itself. If the Scottish people decide they want a referendum that's for them. We would not block something like that. We would let the Scottish people decide. That's democracy."

The result within a Labour Party which has been tearing itself apart for several years and on almost every conceivable front has been remarkable.

Projections for the hotly anticipated snap autumn General Election (that is, to Westminster) suggest that there is more than one ‘constitutional crisis’ ahead.

(NB: I haven't even mentioned Northern Ireland! That's another thread, at least as long...)

Again, there are 80 days until Brexit. Another question may well be: how many days are left for the Union?

(This is my first post and some of the links could maybe have been better selected - other comments totally welcome!)
posted by deeker (84 comments total) 68 users marked this as a favorite
 
ONLY LINK NEEDED
posted by lalochezia at 5:03 AM on August 12 [20 favorites]


Ugh. Ignoring the (at least two) annoying typos, please note that McDonnell is Shadow Chancellor!
posted by deeker at 5:23 AM on August 12 [2 favorites]


Scottish independence didn't have a financial case to be made with Brent in a $100-$120 range; at $50-$70 Brent you are talking about fiscal conditions (at best) of the European periphery, given the mismatch of revenue and (UK-level) costs. And the already difficulty projections at $100-$120 Brent were based upon Scotland being in the EU having free trade on EU terms with the remaining UK... and that's no longer going to be the case given that the UK will be out of the EU, forcing Scotland to choose between being out of the EU, and being in the EU but having only the free trade arrangements with England, Wales and Northern Ireland that the EU would permit its members.
posted by MattD at 5:28 AM on August 12


In case you missed it the first time: the realities of a No Deal Brexit
posted by adamvasco at 5:42 AM on August 12 [7 favorites]


One of the key things, to my mind, is that an independent Scotland would be in the same boat as Ireland. Until Brexit is resolved one way of the other, and any resulting changes in border arrangements with Ireland finalised, any decision by Scotland on whether to leave the UK is going to be complicated by a massive bag of what-ifs. It could potentially come down to a hard border with England, something I'm sure the Conservatives will find horrific, as they don't seem to have a lot of unicorns left.
posted by pipeski at 5:46 AM on August 12 [5 favorites]


Just saying
posted by growabrain at 6:03 AM on August 12 [85 favorites]


The England-Scotland border is not the subject of the Good Friday Agreement. The GFA basically means the border between ROI and NI had to be opened up as a legal obligation. The UK leaving the EU means a border has to exist between the UK and rest of EU. So how to square that?

If Scotland goes independent then it can set up a hard border with England without any real problem. There would be issues over whether this would be a good deal but there is no practical difficulty in being outside the UK and inside the EU for an indy Scotland. Obviously there would be some pretty far ranging negotiations but it is far from the same position.
posted by biffa at 6:04 AM on August 12 [10 favorites]


Just to tease out a little bit of the "sic!!" above- to have a Labour politician talk of the "English" parliament as opposed to the "British" parliament is head-shakingly funny. Labour campaigned for Scotland sticking with the rest of the UK, and to have their Shadow Chancellor (who is English, despite the Scottish name) unthinkingly call the British parliament "English", while in Edinburgh ffs, is emblematic of the Scottish Nationalists' claim that England thinks England and Britain are synonymous.

Brexit is an English nationalist movement (backed up by the fact that Tory party members would prefer to 'lose' Scotland than to re-examine the whole foot-shooting-match that is Brexit). Link for dark relief of a cartoon imagining of our eagerly awaited commemorative 50 pence pieces.
posted by Gratishades at 6:07 AM on August 12 [29 favorites]


So far as I know, it’s been made clear that Scotland cannot remain in the EU if the UK leaves, and rejoining as an independent nation would have to be negotiated from scratch. It would take years at least, and the terms might be tough.

So there’s no liferaft. Independence after Brexit would be more like leaping off one of the Titanic’s lifeboats with just a pair of tartan waterwings.
posted by Segundus at 6:32 AM on August 12 [1 favorite]


So far as I know, it’s been made clear that Scotland cannot remain in the EU if the UK leaves, and rejoining as an independent nation would have to be negotiated from scratch.

That was my (nonexpert) understanding also, though I suspect that the EU might choose to fast-track that as a way to give the finger to the remainder of Britain.

But mostly, sitting here far away and only knowing the situation through news articles, it all seems so self-defeating and sad, like watching a couple you know go through one of those bitter divorces that result in all the assets being paid to the lawyers and both people end up with nothing.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:52 AM on August 12 [34 favorites]


It all depends on how bad Brexit is for any of the current financial arguments to work. That is a big bag of unknown horror that could well mean that Scotland would end up better going it alone and negotiating with the EU.

I mean we are talking about Boris Johnson and the Tories here. There is nothing they cannot make so shite that jumping off with water wings would not be the better choice.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 6:54 AM on August 12 [25 favorites]


So far as I know, it’s been made clear that Scotland cannot remain in the EU if the UK leaves, and rejoining as an independent nation would have to be negotiated from scratch. It would take years at least, and the terms might be tough.

The bigger issue is that the EU doesn't want separatist countries to get entry into the EU. I don't know if they hate England enough to get over that. They're best bet it to see if they can talk England in to seceding from the UK, which honestly would make everyone happy, except maybe the English.

The main negotiation should go pretty quickly since Scotland is already aligned with the EU policies, which tend to be the main stumbling block.
posted by jmauro at 6:55 AM on August 12 [5 favorites]


I'm not sure the oil mentioned upthread is quite the variable it's made out to be. If I recall correctly, oil isn't even among the top three things Scotland makes its money from. Banking, food and drink and tourism are the top three. I'd imagine as well the money from it broadly goes elsewhere from Aberdeen's economy excepted. I often find the reliance on oil is a common misconception down South.
posted by treblekicker at 6:56 AM on August 12 [2 favorites]


So far as I know, it’s been made clear that Scotland cannot remain in the EU if the UK leaves, and rejoining as an independent nation would have to be negotiated from scratch. It would take years at least, and the terms might be tough.

Yes and no. There is no queue for Scotland to join; the idea that it would be lining up behind Serbia and Azerbaijan and waiting for a few generations for its turn is absurd. Having the credentials of having been (part of) a EU nation, the technical aspects of its application would be regarded favourably. The only question would be a political one: would other countries such as Spain want to make examples of it to deter their own separatists? The case for them doing so would make more sense if the UK hadn't imploded.
posted by acb at 6:57 AM on August 12 [12 favorites]


It is, of course, absolutely unheard of for a country to make economically important decisions on the basis of non economic factors.
Just as well. Who knows what might happen?
posted by thatwhichfalls at 6:57 AM on August 12 [10 favorites]


our eagerly awaited commemorative 50 pence pieces

That one on the right, tho — the tiny hand in the oversize suit sleeve and shirt with stars and strips cufflink, reaching to grab at the NHS with the caption TRUMP PENCE
posted by scruss at 6:59 AM on August 12 [4 favorites]


My understanding is that the greatest concern about encouraging other separatist movements comes from Spain, which already has a quasi-pseudo-federal setup with multiple strong internal nationalist movements. So what if we agreed that Scotland can remain within the EU without pause by transitioning cleanly from being part of the UK to part of Spain! All the constitutional framework is there to treat Scotland as an Autonomous Community within the Kingdom of Spain, since Spain is already quasi-federally made of several more-or-less self-governing units. And by never having to be fully independent, Scotland gets to sidestep a lot of the bigger questions it otherwise might have to.

This plan makes no sense and is therefore a perfect solution to Brexit problems.
posted by Tomorrowful at 7:16 AM on August 12 [78 favorites]


Independence after Brexit would be more like leaping off one of the Titanic’s lifeboats with just a pair of tartan waterwings.

Which might be preferable considering UK leadership intentionally steered into the iceberg to own the libs, and minted a coin saying that shipwrecks are good, actually.
posted by Reyturner at 7:26 AM on August 12 [17 favorites]


On the point of the - obviously real - economic issues around an independent Scotland, it seems to me that Scotland would simply be forced to pick its poison. No serious economist is suggesting that any Brexit at all is going to be economically beneficial to either the UK generally or Scotland specifically and a hard Brexit (currently the most likely outcome) could well be utterly calamitous. Quite how bad it will be is incredibly difficult to forecast with any degree of accuracy but it will be very bad indeed. Likewise, it seems inevitable that there will be some sort of economic hit to an independent Scotland wrt trade, etc with rUK. Again, though, it's hard to forecast how hard that hit would be but it, too, would be real.

Linked to that point, it is indeed almost certainly true that an iScotland would not be immediately readmitted to the EU upon independence (although, really, I wouldn't bet the entire farm on that at this point!). Accession to the EEFTA, however, would almost certainly be considerably easier to achieve (a shoo-in, in fact, in my opinion)and that - a sort of halfway-house to full EU membership - surely would be something like a 'liferaft.' That would mean an iScotland would have preferential trade agreements with the rest of the EEFTA, rather than just being another free-floating country with no deals and no leverage for deals, except shitty ones - like the rUK but considerably smaller - which non-membership would definitely represent.

So there would indeed be a period of economic pain but there will be that with Brexit. Like I say, then, it would be up to Scotland to pick its poison - and there is every reason to think Scotland might well pick the singular poison of economic pain that readjustment to EEFTA membership and realignment of the economy to suit that would represent, rather than the double-poison of economic pain associated with hard Brexit and the sheer ethno-nationalist toxicity that is driving Brexit. I think perhaps people outside Scotland do not appreciate the horror with which the sentiments that appear to have driven and are driving Brexit elicit in a great many Scots.

Spain's position on this is, so far as I know, that they would not stand in the way of accession of a nation that seceded in accordance with the constitution of the bloc from which they seceded. So - as long as Scotland did not go down the UDI route (that is, if not granted the Section 30 order, Scotland unilaterally declared independence on, say, the basis of winning all the elections listed above again and calling that a mandate) - the Spanish Foreign Minister said Spain would indeed accept the result of a legal referendum and would not stand against admittance of Scotland to the EU. One must assume the same would hold for EEFTA membership. (That statement was, admittedly, way back in 2012 but I don't think their position has changed. There's a lot to be said about Spain's stance on Catalan autonomy but not for here!)

(One last thing - I was a lurker long before I joined, so I'd seen a lot of posts and I gave some thought to this, my first post - can I just say that the number of favourites granted and the decent btl discussion is very encouraging indeed for a noob! As I said in the post, I could have chosen better links, in places, to illustrate some of my points but I am encouraged to post again, at some poit, on some subject, given the response.)
posted by deeker at 7:31 AM on August 12 [66 favorites]


A previous Spanish administration (the guys who arrested all the Catalan leaders to try them for treason, in fact, after their unauthorised referendum) said they wouldn’t veto an independent Scotland’s application post-Brexit. I think it’s pretty obvious that separating from an EU MS then pleading to be let in again is quite a different context from bailing out of a former EU MS with its own burgeoning separatist ethnonationalist movement and asking to stay in.

Plus, EU decision makers all speak great English and are capable of reading the UK press. The EU took a keen interest in the first referendum and it won’t have escaped their notice that a big deciding factor for Scotland saying no to independence the first time around was the threat of loss of EU membership. My suspicion is that there would be a great deal of sympathy for a post-Brexit Scotland and that their application would be waved through (or the EU equivalent. I’m sure it would take a few years and quite a lot of bureaucracy).

Hard border-wise, as others have noted upthread, you don’t have the possibility of breaking several important international treaties and reigniting a ling-running civil war by imposing one. Also, as borders go, England-Scotland is straightforward (especially compared to ROI-NI). It’s remote and underpopulated, and there are only five major road crossings and two railways. Seriously, search for “Scotland” on your maps app of choice and zoom in on the southern border. It’s very pretty and well worth a visit, but we’re not talking Belgium-Netherlands here.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 7:34 AM on August 12 [15 favorites]


In terms of Scotland’s economy, if I were running the country, I would be thinking of energy, but not “Aberdeen and oil” - more “offshore wind”. Scotland has a huge amount of potential off both coasts, and an artificial island on Dogger Bank has even been mooted.

Scotland also has outsized financial services and tech sectors. There are good cultural reasons why lots of very highly trained native English speaking professionals might like to move to Glasgow rather than Frankfurt, once the City of London has disappeared overnight at the beginning of November.

Longterm, as morbid as it sounds, the big unknown that could work out relatively well (i.e. less badly) for Scotland is climate change. Broadly it seems likely that a lot of the south of the continent is going to get hot and dry - worse for agriculture, harder to support people. Nobody knows what will happen of course, but if London will have Barcelona’s climate in 30 years, Scottish agriculture could become more important than sheep farming, timber, and grain for whisky.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 7:47 AM on August 12 [3 favorites]


Tomorrowful: So what if we agreed that Scotland can remain within the EU without pause by transitioning cleanly from being part of the UK to part of Spain!

*squints* Who sent you? Does this have anything to do with Gibraltar?

--
I have been listening to a really long book about the American Revolutionary War with lots of first-person accounts from both sides. Hearing read aloud the letters & diary entries of people living through what was obviously a Big Historical Event helps me understand what it felt like to them -- and when I look at the news in the U.K. and the U.S., I realize that we're all doing it, too.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:54 AM on August 12 [9 favorites]


Ok, so, here's my plan: we grab up all the tories, ukips, nf's, and the US's Nazis, Klan, far right nutters, and such, and dump them on that island in the Pacific that's sinking. And we tell them: " Here's your apocalypse scenario you've been creaming for, have fun."
We take the folks living there, and give them homes, pretty much wherever they want. Then we all just get on with regular life. It's at least as plausible as anything I've read about all of this nonsense so far.
posted by evilDoug at 8:09 AM on August 12 [15 favorites]


Gerry_Adams_eating_popcorn.gif
posted by Damienmce at 8:12 AM on August 12 [5 favorites]


Link for dark relief of a cartoon imagining of our eagerly awaited commemorative 50 pence pieces.

Brexit or no, I know what they can do with those
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 8:15 AM on August 12 [1 favorite]


London will have Barcelona’s climate in 30 years

Sadly, the current configuration of the world only allows for silver linings that are bitter and ironic.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 8:16 AM on August 12 [7 favorites]


chappelle, ambrose: "Scottish agriculture could become more important than farming [..] grain for whisky."

You shut your dirty mouth!

That said, most grain used for making Scotch is already globally sourced.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 8:20 AM on August 12 [2 favorites]


This plan [Scotland/Spain union] makes no sense

Prior to the Presbyterians setting up shop it would
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 8:21 AM on August 12 [5 favorites]


> and when I look at the news in the U.K. and the U.S., I realize that we're all doing it, too.

I know someone who used to complain that current events in Canada (and Canadian history in general) were "boring" (which, of course they're not and never have been), and expressed envy at the comparatively "exciting" histories of other countries. I was like, geez, man..."boring" is what you should be *wanting* to live through ("may you live in interesting times" and all that).
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:45 AM on August 12 [20 favorites]


I don't really get this "liferaft" theory. Scotland seems to do a lot more trade with the rest of the UK than with the EU, as you'd expect from the gravity model of trade.
The Scottish Government’s annual trade statistics (‘Export Statistics Scotland’) show that in 2016 Scotland exported more than £45 billion in goods and services to England, Wales and Northern Ireland – while exports to the EU total £12.7 billion.
If there are trade barriers between the EU and rUK, Scotland surely needs to be on the rUK side of those barriers.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 8:46 AM on August 12 [6 favorites]


You know what everyone in the news collection/production business hates most?

"boring"
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 8:54 AM on August 12 [5 favorites]


Brexit is the teamwork of Putin and business and ideological interests in the UK that are profiting handsomely from leaving.

Letting Scotland leave to rejoin the EU would not be in Putin's interests, insofar as he has financed Brexit through proxies for the sole purpose of destabilizing and ultimately dissolving Europe.

Johnson's government has already threatened to mobilize the military to keep the peace, in the event that the country leaves without a deal and the ensuing chaos requires martial law, or the nearest euphemistic equivalent allowed whilst still calling the UK a democracy. The PM has packed his cabinet with law-and-order hardliners, presumably to maintain the state intact, as much as to throw out non-white immigrants and Europeans to placate little Englanders. He has also threatened to defy a no-confidence vote, above all else, an extreme situation that is leading some to ask if the Queen herself must intervene directly to transfer power to another leader.

To the extent that the UK has devolved to an authoritarian regime, possibly one toying with fascism, and to the extent its ruling government is beholden to Putin and his agenda, it does not seem that Johnson would allow Scotland to even vote on leaving, much less rejoin Europe.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 8:54 AM on August 12 [7 favorites]


Any independence referendum, however, would require the consent of Westminster

it does not seem that Johnson would allow Scotland to even vote on leaving


If you have to ask permission to leave, you are a prisoner.
posted by rocket88 at 9:11 AM on August 12 [12 favorites]


o what if we agreed that Scotland can remain within the EU without pause by transitioning cleanly from being part of the UK to part of Spain!

The Too Like the Lightning thread is over in Fanfare.
posted by tobascodagama at 10:43 AM on August 12 [8 favorites]


Finally, a use for my knowledge of the succession to the House of Stuart!
posted by 1adam12 at 11:03 AM on August 12 [9 favorites]


> Letting Scotland leave to rejoin the EU would not be in Putin's interests

Are you kidding? It would cause chaos.
posted by Leon at 11:16 AM on August 12 [1 favorite]


If you have to ask permission to leave, you are a prisoner.

Then everyone everywhere is a prisoner.
posted by pracowity at 11:34 AM on August 12 [6 favorites]


An important fact that needs to be mentioned is that maintaining European membership was a central plank for the NO campaign in the last Scottish independence referendum. Their argument was that an independent Scotland would not automatically keep their place in the EU, and that the UK, as an EU member state, could veto any attempt for Scotland to join. Other EU member states were also warning that they would be loath to admit a nation that had seceded from one of their fellow member states. Scots wishing to maintain EU membership were told that their best hope was to vote NO to independence. Many did exactly that.

Now, or at least in the near future, those arguments and scare tactics will be rendered moot. Now those very same Scots that wanted to maintain EU membership above all else will find their best hopes and interests in a YES vote.
posted by rocket88 at 11:36 AM on August 12 [14 favorites]


I don't really get this "liferaft" theory. Scotland seems to do a lot more trade with the rest of the UK than with the EU, as you'd expect from the gravity model of trade.


Those statistics don't indicate how much of the Scottish trade with rUK is directly to rUK consumers, how much is in integrated supply chains that involve other parts of the EU and how much is somewhere in between. And they don't consider any disruptions to the UK as a result of Brexit, which will reduce the size of the UK economy.

Consider a Scottish IT firm providing back office support to a London-based finance company that in turn deals in European markets. That's currently in these statistics Scot-rUK trade. But that trade's existence depends on free UK-rEU trade. Perhaps after Brexit, that finance company will relocate to Paris or Amsterdam, and that trade is all of a sudden Scot-EU trade. Perhaps if Scotland were independent, that finance company would relocate to Glasgow instead.

It's all hypotheticals, but you can't look at current conditions and assume that status quo relationships will continue even through massive disruptions to the status quo. I don't think it's possible to say with certainty whether Scotland would be more prosperous in the next few decades in a post-Brexit UK or rejoining the EU with the rUK having Brexited themselves.

As the gravity model indicates, a small and close body can be eclipsed in importance by a larger, more distant body -- the asteroids don't orbit Mars, they orbit the Sun even though it's further away because it's so much larger.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 11:38 AM on August 12 [13 favorites]


Thanks for a great post, Deeker, and your excellent follow-up comment clearing up the usual perennial misunderstandings about Scottish independence (it’ll be perfect/impossible, Spain won’t allow it, etc.)

I think most Scottish people understand that independence is a hard and risky affair - there’s a reason why we had the result we did in the first referendum. But arguments based purely on the small size of Scotland and how entwined its finances are with the rest of the UK fundamentally fail to understand the reasons why many want to leave - it’s not about money, it’s about self-determination, the same kind of self-determination that many other small countries inside and outside of the EU have. That doesn’t mean that the practicalities don’t matter, of course.

Another frustration I’ve had about the Scottish independence debate is that it consists of the same kind of nationalism represented by the Brexit and Trump and so on. Whenever I hear this, I assume the speaker is either woefully ignorant or wilfully misleading. Supporters of Scottish independence want to retain freedom of movement and trade with the EU; they aren’t interested in creating hostile environments for immigrants.
posted by adrianhon at 12:23 PM on August 12 [13 favorites]


You know what everyone in the news collection/production business hates most?

"boring"


And now that social media has essentially farmed out the news-collecting business to the masses using the currency of attention rather than money, EVERYONE wants their corner of the world to be "interesting" so they have things to post about.
posted by UltraMorgnus at 12:38 PM on August 12 [4 favorites]


Looks like they're all gonna get their wish, then.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:42 PM on August 12 [3 favorites]


Any independence referendum, however, would require the consent of Westminster

it does not seem that Johnson would allow Scotland to even vote on leaving

If you have to ask permission to leave, you are a prisoner.


I am of the view that Scotland doesn't necessarily need the consent of Westminster to have a vote on independence, that alternatively it can have an autochthonous vote, declaration of independence, and ensuing constitution. The consent of Westminster is only important for purposes of legal continuity (which, granted, is important, and a cleaner process). Now, I'm reaching back here on my Constitutional law, and I stand to be corrected, but the case for self-declared independence is particularly strong where a country has already been independent -- it is seen to have 'lent' its sovereignty to another body, and is able to retract it at its own will.

My point is that there are avenues for Scottish independence other than going through Boris.
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:34 PM on August 12 [8 favorites]


Pretty much all of them would be tantamount to civil war, though, which I think most people would see as being rather unpreferable.
posted by tobascodagama at 2:52 PM on August 12


There is a theory that if Scotland gained independence and retained EU membership some large sections of the City of London would relocate themselves to Edinburgh.
posted by Lanark at 4:03 PM on August 12 [3 favorites]


I've been thinking that Farage & co didn't get a leave victory by making a case for Brexit, they got it by dumbing down the discussion until they had enough people on their side. And the fun continues...
posted by sneebler at 5:02 PM on August 12 [2 favorites]


i know it's not possible for scotland to just take over the uk's seat in the eu, but nevertheless that seems like it would be the most sensible and elegant solution. like, scotland just saying "dear eu: we apologize for how the southern part of our country went totally off the rails and decided it didn't want to be part of the rest of the planet anymore, but we couldn't stop it from doing so no matter how hard we tried. nevertheless we are still sane and we would like to remain a part of the useful and harmonious international alliance to which we belong."
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 6:30 PM on August 12 [9 favorites]


> And now that social media has essentially farmed out the news-collecting business to the masses using the currency of attention rather than money, EVERYONE wants their corner of the world to be "interesting" so they have things to post about.
Mankind, which in Homer’s time was an object of contemplation for the Olympian gods, now is one for itself. Its self-alienation has reached such a degree that it can experience its own destruction as an aesthetic pleasure of the first order. This is the situation of politics which Fascism is rendering aesthetic.

-- walter benjamin
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 6:39 PM on August 12 [10 favorites]


I just finished AdamVasco's link, and it's terrifying, and I don't even live in England any more. How could any rational person read those datapoints and still think leaving is a good idea?

What, or whose, purpose is served by crippling the UK like this? Upstream someone mentioned Putin, and I have to wonder, is the Russian spy community so good they were able to create this much chaos in the UK, US, and EU? And even if the answer is yes, I fail to see what there is to gain from it. I mean, everyone still has nukes up to their eyeballs, MI6 will still be a thing, Russia doesn't have the infrastructure or commodities to benefit from disrupted trade, so...I'm failing to understand what benefit it provides to Russia.

I'm fairly immersed in British culture, I went to school there and I have a UK friend with whom I share a Plex, and so I get to see a lot of topical BBC programming, and perhaps it's because of the shows I request, but I've yet to see anyone defend, logically, WHY Brexit. Once everyone realized that all the claims and the things on the sides of buses were all lies, how can anyone still think it's a good idea? What am I missing?

Re Scottish Independence: All of my data is anecdotal, but my Scottish friends believe that a hard brexit is a good enough reason to leave the union. They agree with the comment upstream that it's not necessary for Westminster to approve a vote, but without it, it might get messy. A few of their parents, (all in their mid70s and older), don't want to be part of the EU, but they don't want to be part of the UK either.

I'm no polling expert, and again my knowledge is limited to friends and their reports, and listening to political & comedy podcasts and news in the UK and Scotland, but I believe if a hard brexit occurs, many Scots would advocate leaving the UK and joining the EU.

I just can't believe Brexit is actually happening.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 9:58 PM on August 12 [2 favorites]


I still think about Scottish MEP Alyn Smith's last speech to the EU parliament, "please leave a light on".
posted by Harald74 at 12:22 AM on August 13 [4 favorites]


RE the question above of what Russia/Putin would have to gain from the break up of the UK I was reading recently Tim Marshall's 'Prisoners of Geography', which looks at how geography shapes politics and history. He contends that the location of Scotland/UK is really important to Russia as it was and is a potential choke point for Russian navies getting in to the Atlantic from the west. That, plus the fact that the UK's nuclear submarines are based in Scottish lochs, gives some clue as to why a weaker UK (either broken up and/or out of the EU) would be desirable for anyone in charge of Russia.

(The above is meant to characterise motive- I am unable to say how much Russia actually did contribute via sowing division here- though we have seen more clearly elsewhere that they are willing to try to interfere in foreign domestic politics. This of course puts me in a bit of a bind as an advocate for an independent Scotland, despite the fact that Putin would think that was a great thing, and may have been involved in fostering it. Isn't politics fun?)
posted by Gratishades at 2:16 AM on August 13 [3 favorites]


I think the Putin angle is dramatically oversold with regard to Brexit. The press here have been more than capable of whipping a substantial proportion of English voters into an anti-European frenzy all on their own, and have done so for decades for no better reason than to sell papers and pretend that this crummy little island and its inhabitants are special somehow.
posted by Dysk at 3:09 AM on August 13 [16 favorites]


I agree Dysk that divisions whipped up by the press must take most of the blame. However the playbook of divide and rule for an interfering power is to exacerbate existing divisions, not create them out of whole cloth, and in this networked age of personalised ads and personal news-feeds/bubbles, it is very hard to attribute cause and effect.
posted by Gratishades at 3:14 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]


The motive is only impenetrable if you look at each campaign individually without considering the whole operation. After zooming out a bit, it all makes lot more sense.
posted by wierdo at 4:38 AM on August 13


it is very hard to attribute cause and effect.

No it's not.

Cause: Both of the Anglo and American political classes tolerated the presence of a fair bit of racist and more specifically white nationalist advocacy by its members for decades and decades with a strong recent uptick in the latter especially.

Effect: The same infowar tactics Russia has been using in eg Ukraine were effective in those countries.
posted by PMdixon at 5:09 AM on August 13 [4 favorites]


I'd see both your points as causes, the relative magnitude of each can be debated. The "effect" is not the tactics used (though the first cause enabled the second cause to be considered and deployed).
posted by Gratishades at 5:26 AM on August 13


Actually scratch that, think we're talking past each other. The effect I am concerned with is where we are at just now; yours, I think PMDixon, is that the first cause had the effect of allowing/enabling the foreign interference, which is true.
posted by Gratishades at 5:30 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]


I wouldn’t discount simple revenge as a motive for Putin’s part in this. He blames the West and the Anglosphere for the breakup of the Soviet state that he so wants to rebuild. The Soviets’ most powerful propaganda weapon against us was always our racism. We stopped fighting the Cold War but it never stopped fighting us.
posted by rikschell at 5:32 AM on August 13 [6 favorites]


Without minimising Putin's odiousness and threat, I'm not about to let his desires dictate my feelings on Scottish independence one way or another. If it's Russian advantage you're worried about, it is plausible that an independent Scotland could work to counter Putin by working together with other EU nations; the UK's weak response to Litvinenko and the Salisbury poisonings hardly point to some kind of brave British stance that Scotland would somehow ruin.

I'll put it another way. If Putin started backing universal health care in the US because he thought it might cause US bankruptcy or more division, I don't think that'd be a good reason to abandon the plan. It's good in and of itself and the negative effects can and should be addressed separately. I feel the same way about Scottish independence.

Also, Putin won't be around forever.
posted by adrianhon at 5:35 AM on August 13 [8 favorites]


i think one of the grim lessons that our grim young century has taught us is that having a media culture where shitty abusive coverage is normalized is not just a domestic-political problem but actually a military weakness.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 6:00 AM on August 13 [15 favorites]


> That, plus the fact that the UK's nuclear submarines are based in Scottish lochs, gives some clue as to why a weaker UK (either broken up and/or out of the EU) would be desirable for anyone in charge of Russia.

... i don’t suppose an independent scotland would get to keep its share of the nuclear weapons, would it? this is a terrifying and incredibly complicated aspect of brexit that i’ve never considered.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 6:25 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]


I'd assume that the rUK would be keen to keep them there if feasible- as ideal in terms of depth and location (if you are thinking in terms of population density of UK, or if you live in the South-East of England). There is a lot of anti-Trident feeling though in the Scottish populace. It could be a valuable Scottish bargaining chip in any post independence negotiation, to host them- but the Scottish people (and, you'd expect, Putin's trolls) would be very vocally opposed.
posted by Gratishades at 6:32 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]


Not sure why an independent Scotland keeping a share of nuclear weapons is terrifying, beyond the obvious existence of nuclear weapons in itself being terrifying.

The SNP and Green parties at least are decidedly anti-nuclear and wouldn't be looking to maintain any nuclear weapon capability. As they would be the most likely power base in an immediate post independence Scotland then it's safe to assume that they'd look to divest all presence of nuclear weapons from the country at the earliest time that its possible to do so as was stated in the 2014 Independence white paper

The part about independent Scotland that everyone seems to just skip over is when we go independent we're not going to do it like 'hard brexit' and throw our toys out of the pram. It will be planned and prepared for with a period likely over several years of getting the various institutions/powers to be transferred ready. The vote when it comes is the start of the process, not the end.
posted by Leud at 6:37 AM on August 13 [11 favorites]


Gratishades - are you aware that Faslane (where the nuclear subs are based) is less than 30 miles from Glasgow and within 100 miles of about half the population of Scotland? The immediate population density within say 20 miles of Faslane is low, and very low to the North/West. But East and South are into the most densely populated areas of Scotland.

While it may be convenient for the rUK to keep the nuclear weapons they rent from the USA here sorry that won't be possible.
posted by Leud at 6:49 AM on August 13 [5 favorites]


Well aware, Leud, near Glasgow myself. I was trying to be funny to say it was a good location if one was in the South East of England (or if one was being 'dispassionate' and looking at British as opposed to Scottish population density, as I have seen used as the rationale for current location, which is cold comfort where I'm sitting).
posted by Gratishades at 7:03 AM on August 13


The RUSI actually did an assessment of what to do with the nuclear weapons if Scotland became independent in the 2014 referendum. They concluded it would be very difficult but not impossible to move them, with Devonport (sub base) and Falmouth (weapons storage) being the favourite option for the new arrangements.

So that's an additional Brexit bonus for me as the new base would be about a mile from my front door.
posted by biffa at 7:15 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]


I was unfamiliar with the notation "rUK" before this thread. I'm... not sure I like it.
posted by Molesome at 8:44 AM on August 13


> Not sure why an independent Scotland keeping a share of nuclear weapons is terrifying, beyond the obvious existence of nuclear weapons in itself being terrifying.

mostly because any dispute about who owns a particular nuclear weapon is innately terrifying, regardless of how sane and level-headed the participants in the dispute are.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 9:18 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]


I was unfamiliar with the notation "rUK" before this thread. I'm... not sure I like it.

I hate it, but I can't deny its validity.

If rUK becomes a reality (I mean with Scotland becoming independent) it will only have a very short half life until NI (certainly) and Wales (possibly) separate and what we're looking at is England.

The creative tension and checks and balances that came from being English within a UK which included, Scotland, Wales, NI, and was also part of the EU was good for the English (however difficult it may have been for the others in that arrangement).

I have looked at thoroughbred Englishness and its not something I want to be part of.
posted by dudleian at 10:52 AM on August 13 [3 favorites]


I was unfamiliar with the notation "rUK" before this thread. I'm... not sure I like it.

A lot depends on if it stands for Rest of the UK, Reduced UK or Rump UK.

It's less annoying than iScotland, which sounds like Apple took over.
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:55 AM on August 13 [9 favorites]


god i never would have thought it possible that england could shit the bed so badly that they'd lose wales. and that the driving factor would be insane nostalgia for the days of empire.

for their next act, are they going to split into mercia, northumbria, east anglia, essex, sussex, wessex, and kent? just a bunch of petty kingdoms united solely by mutual enmity?

also did i get all the names right? am i the only american who can actually get the names right?
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 11:24 AM on August 13 [7 favorites]


Cornwall already has a nationalist movement which aims for autonomy and Cornish identity has been recognised as a national minority.
posted by biffa at 12:14 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


There will also be the issue of what to call the rUK. It has gone by many names:
post 1707: "United Kingdom of Great Britain", or just "Great Britain"
post 1801: "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland"
post 1922: "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland"

With one of the original kingdoms leaving, and no longer comprised of the entirety of the geographical Island of Great Britain, the name may need to be changed again, possibly along with the ever-changing Union Flag.
posted by rocket88 at 12:49 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


seems "little england" would be the most appropriate name for england minus cornwall. also the name that best reflects the character of the place.

perhaps london could secede next. move parliament to, i dunno, swindon?
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 1:08 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


Actually scratch that, think we're talking past each other. The effect I am concerned with is where we are at just now; yours, I think PMDixon, is that the first cause had the effect of allowing/enabling the foreign interference, which is true.

Yes. I see Putin/GRU as the specific predators that are taking advantage of the fault lines, but if you tell your family member over and over by word and deed it's OK to beat the shit out of nonwhite people it's a little myopic to focus solely on whichever brand of systematic racism or racism-based affinity fraud they fall into later and ignore the fact that you taught them the behavior was acceptable in the first place.
posted by PMdixon at 6:06 AM on August 14 [2 favorites]


Yup, that would be myopic. And my opening words were "I agree Dysk that divisions whipped up by the press must take most of the blame" which seems to be the crux of your point. (Apologies if your passionate language was at the general state of the world rather than wanting to have a go personally.)
posted by Gratishades at 8:18 AM on August 14


perhaps london could secede next. move parliament to, i dunno, swindon?

Swindon did vote to leave I think, but not quite as much as some places. And it'd be better placed somewhere near the geographical centre of England?

So, send the Brexit-y part of Parliament to Coventry.
posted by edd at 9:01 AM on August 14 [1 favorite]


see the only reason why i named swindon is because i thought it would be fun to make parliament meet in the middle of that one roundabout.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 3:55 PM on August 14 [7 favorites]


Hemel would be better than Swindon, as it's nearer London (yet so very far away), it also has one of those mad roundabouts, and a large chunk of it caught fire a few years back with the pall visible from Paris. I can't think of a better Brexit analogy.
posted by scruss at 11:45 AM on August 15 [2 favorites]


god i never would have thought it possible that england could shit the bed so badly that they'd lose wales. and that the driving factor would be insane nostalgia for the days of empire.

What does this even mean?!!!! You do realise that this is a very small island, yes? I am a person how is English (booo!), Cornish, Yorkshire and Irish. My husband was born in England (boooo!) to a Welsh mother and an Irish father. It is so tiring that we have these posts about Brexit and it becomes a weird old crush on the UK being broken up. It's not bloody interesting. Also where are the women commenting? I am put off by all this.

Anyway, Scotland. Please stay. Honestly.
posted by peepofgold at 12:24 PM on August 15 [1 favorite]


 Anyway, Scotland. Please stay. Honestly.

What is there to stay for? Short of financial incentives equivalent to the amount that the DUP are being bunged to maintain C&S - which ain't gonna happen, as 3× a crapload of bribe money for 3× the population is more than was ever written on the side of a bus - there are more fun groups to be part of than the Divided Queendom. You seem to be the one bringing the "England boooo" spirit: Scottish Independence moved past that in the 1950s.

Of course, there's always the possibility that, if Scotland does something even remotely uppity, the spectre of Cromwell's New Model Army will rise and it'll be death marches and mass graves for Scots all over again.
posted by scruss at 3:48 PM on August 15 [6 favorites]


Also where are the women commenting? I am put off by all this.

Several of us have been commenting in this thread, thank you. I guess we haven't been praising England and damning Scottish independence enough to count?

Not entirely sure of the relevance here regardless, and I don't think starting to argue about other mefites' gender in a thread where it isn't directly relevant is a good idea. But regardless, several women have been posting on this thread.
posted by Dysk at 1:35 AM on August 16 [14 favorites]


Operation Yellowhammer leaked documents detail what a no-deal Brexit would bring.

Ian Dunt thinks there's hope no-deal could be stopped if ministers step up and do their jobs (there's no hope).
posted by rikschell at 12:05 PM on August 18 [6 favorites]


it only took 42 years to come true
God save the queen
We mean it man
There's no future
In England's dreaming …

No future
No future
No future for you

No future
No future
No future for me
posted by scruss at 4:40 PM on August 19


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