Jacob F. Farr
Naked Politics Blogger
The cries of discontent that can be heard in Westminster about a second referendum north of the border are extremely interesting for a number of reasons. My interest lies solely in the recent rhetoric that was used by the discontented during and after the recent Brexit campaign. Many Conservatives who directly supported Brexit or have now come to throw their support behind the result are looking to use the very arguments that were used against them by pro-Remain campaigners.
Watching Prime Minister’s Questions on Tuesday, I was extremely confused by the approach of certain Conservative MPs towards a second independence referendum in Scotland. I could forgive hearing Keiza Dugdale, the leader of Scottish Labour, for attacking the SNP and using arguments about leaving their largest trade partner, as she had campaigned on the same principles during the Brexit campaign. However, I cannot accept pro-Brexit MPs attacking the SNP for leaving their largest trading partner and claiming that their economy would crumble into ruin. Was it not David Cameron and George Osborne who predicted there would be World War Three and economic collapse if Brexit became a reality? Of course, Article 50 has not been activated yet and we have not been able to see if this apocalyptic prediction can become a reality, but nonetheless, Cameron and Osborne were chastised by pro-Brexit MPs for their stance. The Brexiteers must stay true to their upbeat nature, for it was they who convinced all of us to abandon our largest trade partners in the hopes of securing better deals elsewhere.
Sovereignty and the right to control one’s borders, economy, education and population were huge arguments for leaving the European Union. Bureaucratic bottle-necks were responsible for the United Kingdom feeling like it did not have control over such things. Our Prime Minister was a huge advocate of relinquishing Britain’s place in the European Court of Human Rights and, although I will lousily paraphrase here, she felt we did not need judges in foreign lands dictating what the UK can and can’t legally do. Surely she can see the irony in her stating that we can make a success of being independent from Europe and then reacting with disdain when the SNP state the same thing about Indy Ref 2. We risk descending into a vortex of hypocrisy and irony if we cannot have a debate about Scotland making a success of independence at the same time as we talk of the UK making a success of Brexit. It sends an extremely confusing message to the population.
Scotland faces the decision between leaving the United Kingdom in the hope of re-joining the European Union and sticking with the UK in the hope of making a success of Brexit. It is completely different to the first independence referendum as we now face a time of great uncertainty. Nicola Sturgeon promised that she would hold a second referendum campaign if circumstances drastically changed. Well since the last referendum what we have seen is a Tory majority in Westminster, the rise of the far-right in Europe, a Donald Trump presidency and a Conservative government that is hell-bent on pursuing a hard Brexit. I think that pretty much covers drastically changed circumstances. A lot of people in Scotland see England as moving in the opposite direction from them socially and politically, much like how the UK felt with the rest of Europe. Scotland voted to remain in the EU, they elected the SNP en masse and support slightly more left-leaning policies. There are a lot of similarities between the Scottish independence referendum and Brexit, we must respect this campaign and not become lost in supporting ‘our team’ rather than our ideological principles. We must stay true.
In the coming months I predict we will see a lot of pro-Brexit supporters using very contradictory arguments when it comes to making a success of leaving the EU and Scottish independence. They will use the argument that Scotland cannot survive on its own, it needs the UK economically to survive. We will be told that scientific development and education will suffer and that as a society we will regress well beyond our fellow counterparts in the British Isles. The next hour, day, week or month you will see these same supporters defending themselves against the exact same predictions that they bestow upon the Scottish people. It will be the job of the everyday populace to hold their MPs to account and make sure that we expect consistency from our representatives, especially when it comes to the Prime Minister. There cannot be an honest discussion if we are not true to our principles and maintain our beliefs across all platforms, not just opposing whatever the so-called “enemy” represents.