MayTrix: Not the time for a Scottish Referendum
No one can escape the MayTrix. The Prime Minister is not only taking an unbending position on the Scottish referendum, but she is also playing tricks. The government has now officially rejected to give people or parliament the power to vote on the final Brexit bill. But they also rejected calls for a Scottish independence referendum, at least before Brexit.
While everyone who voted in the Brexit referendum in June was voting on whether to leave the EU or not, now the UK is facing a hard Brexit, with possibly no access to the single market and parliament having no say in the final Brexit bill. How is this in any way close to what the people have voted for in the UK referendum? No one was asked on the terms of Brexit and no one seems to have any power to decide them, apart from our May. How is Brexit going to actually look like after March when the negotiations begin? The British people have no idea how the discussions will be shaped, although we already know the attitudes of the EU: British people just cannot have their cake and eat it too, they said to us.
So, when Theresa May gave an interview to Robert Preston on ITV, her words sounded as believable as Nigel Farage’s NHS promise pro-Brexit referendum: the Brexiteers persuaded the British people to leave the EU with the pledge of a £350 million a week for the NHS. Well, that didn’t happen. Back to reality, for now. May said in the interview:
Nothing is more important to me than seeing this United Kingdom thrive. Our precious union of nations is the most successful that the world has ever seen. And we have been joined together as one country for over 300 years. We have worked together, we have prospered together, we have fought wars together. And we have a bright future. I think there’s a bright future for us all.That’s why as we embark on the process of a new relationship, a future relationship with the European Union, I’m going to be fighting for every person, every family, every business across the whole of the United Kingdom. That’s my focus. And I think it should be the focus of us all.So when the SNP government say that it’s the time to start talking about a second independence referendum, I say that just at this point, all our energies should be focused on our negotiations with the European Union about our future relationship. And to be talking about an independence referendum would, I think, make it more difficult for us to be able to get the right deal for Scotland and the right deal for the UK.And, more than that, I think it would not be fair to the people of Scotland because they’d be being asked to take a crucial decision without the necessary information, without knowing what the future partnership will be or what the alternative of an independent Scotland would look like. (my italics)
The problem of this is the hypocrisy of the argument. The word “unfair”, used in the same way as Trump’s “unfair”—he inserts it sparingly in his tweets to indicate frustration with any opposition to what a government establishes as its own truth—ignores what is “unfair” for the other side. Isn’t it unfair for the Scottish, or also for the Northern Irish to ask them to follow something they had voted against? Scotland voted to Remain with 62% to 38%, and Northern Ireland voted 55.8% to Remain, too.
Also, Theresa May voted to Remain, and the easiness with which she has embraced Leave should make us suspicious of her lack of a fixed belief. If she changes this easily to satisfy Brexiteers and voters, wouldn’t she change her mind again to guarantee her political “fame” or position. So, when she is confronted with the strength of the argument of the possibility of a Scottish referendum, it is easy for her, lacking any argument or position, to attack Sturgeon and take the side of the poor Scottish people who are being duped by Sturgeon.
More importantly, the SNP 2016 manifesto included a call for the right to hold a second independence referendum in the case of Scotland being forced to leave the EU. It stated: “We believe that the Scottish Parliament should have the right to hold another referendum if it is clear that more than half of the people in Scotland want independence.”
According to SNP Deputy Leader, Angus Robertson, who will be talking to the SNP spring conference in Aberdeen later today (17 March), Theresa May’s “panicked response to the Scottish Government’s decision” shows that the “Tories are simply scared of the people’s choice.” As the BBC reported, Robertson is also expected to say that "The Tories argument is not about process, it is about their desperate desire to prevent anyone having the chance to reject the hard right Brexit that they are so wedded to. The truth is, it should not be for either Theresa May or the Scottish Government to decide Scotland's future, that choice belongs to the parliament and the people of Scotland and it is one this party will never shy away from."
A ScotCen poll shows that support for Scottish independence is now at its highest level, but now might not be the most opportune moment to hold a referendum. 72% of 16-24 year olds wants to leave the UK, but other polls show that nothing much has changed since the NO of the 2014 referendum.
May writing in the Times said:
The SNP is trying to force the UK government to agree to something that is fundamentally unfair to the Scottish people.
It wants to ask them to make a crucial decision without the necessary information.
They would not know what the new partnership with the EU would look like, or what the alternative of an independent Scotland would be. It would simply not be fair. (my italics)
Isn’t this ironic though? Did the UK people knew what they were voting in the UK referendum? No, they didn’t. So, isn’t it unfair to British people, including the Scottish to ask them to go down the road of a Hard Brexit, despite economists’ warnings? How is it okay to ask them to be compliant with such a big decision, and not okay when the Scottish are asking not to be included in this mass Brexit evacuation from the EU. How is one decision better than the other? Additionally, Sturgeon is offering her people the right to see how Brexit negotiations will develop before she asks the people to decide. So they won’t be going to vote into the unknown.
The Scottish Greens have criticised Theresa May for opposing a second independence referendum. Ross Greer MSP, the party’s external affairs spokesman, said:
“Scotland deserves to choose between the isolated, angry Brexit Britain planned by the Tories and putting our future in our own hands with independence. If a Tory Westminster government that Scotland did not elect seriously think they can block our right to choose - and that they can veto a decision of our elected parliament – they will only increase support for independence.”
Theresa May’s interview shows that the government sees Scotland, not as a partner, but as a thorn in its side. As Ross Greer said, the demand to drag Scotland through a hard Brexit “without a mandate and after an EU referendum where no details were presented, it reeks of hypocrisy.” Is this fair or unfair?