Pages tagged with "Brexit"

10 reasons why Brexit is behind the UK's food shortages

The mainstream news media is reporting that fresh vegetable shortages in British supermarkets are caused by “bad weather in Spain and Morocco”. But Brexit is a big factor - it has disrupted Britain’s supply chains and is reducing food production in the UK. 

Social media is awash with photos of groaning shelves in European supermarkets with arrays of tomatoes, red peppers, cucumbers and even cauliflowers -  all largely absent from many UK shops. European newspapers such as the authoritative Der Spiegel are reporting on this as purely a British issue, confirming that this is not happening in EU countries.  

10 reasons why Brexit is behind the UK’s food shortages

#1 It is harder and less attractive to trade with the UK

There has been bad weather in Spain and Morocco - but Brexit has played a part in disrupting supply chains, increasing the time and expense of importing fresh produce and making the UK a less attractive place to trade. 

#2 When there isn’t enough to go around - the UK is at the back of the queue

After Brexit, Britain increased its dependence on imports from Morocco - which is not in the EU -  especially for crops like winter tomatoes. The government trumpeted the roll-over trade deal it managed to sign with Morocco. But when there isn’t enough to go around, it is easier and more profitable for those suppliers to sell to the EU.

With no direct freight ferry, UK importers have to manage direct logistics from Morocco to UK retailers, crossing two EU borders en route. Moroccan farmers can sell produce to EU-wide wholesalers, rather than small, unprofitable UK export firms.

#3 The pound has lost ground against the Euro, making it harder to compete on price

The pound has lost 19% of its value against the Euro since the Brexit vote, making it harder for UK buyers to compete on price. Before the 2016 vote, one pound was worth €1.40. It is now worth €1.14. That means British buyers have to pay Brexit around 19% more just to stand still. Brexit has already been blamed for putting up the price of food bills in the UK significantly. 

#4  Club members come first

Spain obviously prefers to trade within the single market “club”. Expat Euro TV journalist Alex Taylor who teaches journalism at the Sorbonne shared pictures from his local French supermarket and wrote on Twitter:

“When you're in a club and there are difficulties (of tomatoes, in winter, hello !) club members first help each other out before shipping off somewhat rarer tomatoes to a country which has been ranting about how it's priding itself on making it much harder to do trade with them ! So yes ! It IS a Brexit issue, despite what media and even Waitrose may be telling their customers"

Later, Alex Taylor tweeted this map to illustrate the point:

#5 Even in Kyiv in Ukraine, it is easier to get tomatoes

The veteran reporter John Sweeney shared on his war diary a video of a Kyiv supermarket amply supplied with tomatoes. In the clip he suggests that the Brexit campaign was partly funded by donations from Russia - donations that have never been adequately investigated.

Twitter users shared a clip from Talk TV Breakfast News incident where a reporter from Kyiv in Ukraine tried to say that it is easier to get tomatoes there than in London and that this is because of Brexit, but the presenter drowned him out by repeating "It's nothing to do with Brexit".

#6 Trade imbalance means many lorries return to the EU empty

The UK doesn't have import controls yet - they have been postponed (again) until the 1st of January 2024. But it has export controls and that has led to a slump in exports to the EU. The growing imbalance between imports and exports mean a lot of lorries go back to the EU empty - and that makes the journey less commercially attractive.

#7 Ireland is suffering too - because it is still partly supplied via the UK

Ireland is also affected by the shortage because a significant amount of its retailers are still supplied by UK wholesalers and a big percentage of exports still come across the UK ‘landbridge’. They are increasing ferry capacity direct from Europe but it takes longer and costs more than when both countries were in the EU.

#8 The UK wasn't part of an EU agreement to protect food producers from rising energy costs

Farmers are struggling with massive energy costs,  

The New Statesman reported: "Had Brexit not happened, the British government would have been forced to go along with European Union decisions on how to help farmers through this situation, meaning that British growers might have had more support. The UK has decided not to include horticulturalists in its energy support scheme; in the EU a €500m support package has helped farmers to grow fruit and vegetables on fallow land. 

Former Sainsbury's CEO Justin King said UK food production has been "hurt horribly by Brexit". He told Nick Ferrari At Breakfast on LBC that UK greenhouses, previously known to grow tomatoes, have suffered in recent years. 

"These are products that we do produce, or in the past have produced year round in the UK. North Kent, in Thanet, [had] the largest greenhouses in Europe, which used to be full of peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes. But those greenhouses have suffered, really, from two big things. I hate to say it, Nick, but it's a sector that's been hurt horribly by Brexit."

#9 Production in the UK is down, partly due to the end of free movement 

Production of fresh produce in the UK is down for several reasons - one of them being the lack of seasonal workers. Many growers have had to let crops rot in the ground due to labour shortages in recent harvests, and have planted less since. The shortage of cauliflowers and other brassicas is set to worsen. The number of seasonal visas granted by the UK government is far short of what is needed - and when these workers are in short supply, small Scottish farms that can't afford to pay the highest wages lose out. 

Save British Farming chair Liz Webster said

“The reason that we have food shortages in Britain, and that we don’t have food shortages in Spain – or anywhere else in the European Union – is because of Brexit, and also because of this disastrous Conservative Government that has no interest in food production, farming or even food supply.”

#10 The situation could worsen as the UK moves away from CAP and Brexit continues to bite

It looks unlikely that PM Rishi Sunak will be able to break the impasse over the Northern Ireland protocol which is worsening relations with the EU. Even the Labour party wants to continue with Brexit.

UK farming is being hit hard by energy bills, and by coming out of the Common Agricultural Policy. That is designed so that much of the cost of food production is borne by taxpayers not those who pay at the till. But the UK government is not likely to allocate the same degree of funding - and therefore Scotland will be short-changed through the "block grant".

Businesses face a “cliff edge” in support next month. They have to pay far higher energy costs than competitors in many EU countries. The NFUS wants to see food producers pay lower energy costs, as they are a critical industry. 

The NFUS annual survey of farmers shows many Scottish farmers are affected by the disruption and lack of certainty caused by leaving the Common Agricultural Policy, which gives long-range stability and food security for countries within the European Union. Scottish farmers also feel betrayed by deals the UK has struck with Australia and New Zealand which threaten the commercial viability of their farms in the long term. 

Yes, bad weather has reduced the supply of fresh produce. But the UK is losing out from not being part of the EU's single market which has always prioritised food security.  Food production at home is also been damaged.

An independent Scotland back in the EU would be able to build a country where nutritious food is affordable and available to all, as it is across the European Union. 

The UK is ripping up workers' rights - an independent Scotland can do better

The UK government is attacking workers’ rights in draconian new laws, which will be imposed on Scotland -  despite fierce opposition from Scotland’s democratically elected Parliament. 

The UK is also ripping up many workers’ rights that depend on EU laws - such as mandatory rest breaks and holiday pay for part-time workers. 

Meanwhile, the UK has slumped seven points to its lowest-ever place in an international ranking of government standards on honesty.

An independent Scotland would be able to get on with building a stronger, fairer country without being dragged down by the UK.

Nurses, teachers could be sacked for refusing to cross a picket line

The controversial “Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill”, which was voted through by the House of Commons this week, will apply to Scotland. An amendment which would give the Scottish and Welsh Parliaments a say was rejected by the Conservatives - the Labour Party abstained.  The Labour Party does not believe that employment law should be devolved to Holyrood.  

Under the Strikes Bill, some employees in the rail industry and emergency services would be forced to work during industrial action. They could be sacked if they refuse. There will be no right to appeal for workers who lose their jobs for refusing to cross a picket line. 

The Bill gives the UK government the power to expand this provision to education, nuclear and broader health services, if the government fails to reach voluntary agreement with these sectors. 

The new law will also give employers the right to seek a court injunction to prevent strikes, or to seek damages afterwards if they go ahead.

"Henry VIII clause" gives government ministers enormous power

The bill also contains a controversial "Henry VIII clause", which would allow UK government ministers to amend the legislation after it has become law without full parliamentary scrutiny. 

It was passed by the Commons on Monday with 315 votes to 246 but will face further scrutiny in the House of Lords before it becomes law. 

Bonfire of EU laws includes holiday pay for part-time workers and much more

The UK government plans to review or revoke all EU laws left on the UK statute book by the end of 2023 - which now amounts to around 3,700 regulations. The plan has attracted fierce criticism from business groups, legal experts, trade unions and environmental groups. They warn that rushing the review will create costly and destabilising legal uncertainty.

Unison warns that : “Many legal improvements to workers’ rights in the UK, including UNISON’s recent Supreme Court victory that won new holiday rights for part-time workers, are reliant on the courts’ interpretations of EU law, and could be lost. Without the shield of EU law, workers in the UK will be exposed to an Americanised, hire-and-fire culture that makes work more insecure and dangerous.” 

Legislation due to be binned by the UK includes: working time regulations which give workers the right to legal rest breaks; rights for part-time workers to be treated equally with full-time workers; maternity and paternity leave (a recent case giving these rights to Uber drivers depended on EU laws); rights for workers whose company is acquired by another firm, and many more.

The UK slumped to its lowest-ever rating on the Transparency International Corruptions Perceptions Index. 

Meanwhile, with the UK government mired in sleaze, Britain’s international ranking for uncorrupt and honest government is the lowest it has ever been.

There have been a series of scandals, from Nadhim Zahawi’s sacking over his tax affairs, to the BBC chair Richard Sharp’s involvement in the financial affairs of Boris Johnson at the time Johnson appointed him to the job. There have also been allegations of corruption around public contracts given out by UK government ministers.

In the latest Transparency International Corruptions Perceptions Index, the UK’s score dropped by 5 points to 73, resulting in the UK’s position falling from 11th to 18th in the global table - behind countries like Estonia and Uruguay.

Only five of the 180 countries assessed for the 2022 Index saw their year-on-year scores drop by five or more points: the UK (-5), Qatar (-5), Myanmar (-5), Azerbaijan (-7) and Oman (-8).

An independent Scotland can build a brighter future

Scotland is saddled with a right-wing UK government it did not elect. This new battle over basic rights is going to consume time and energy that would be better spent elsewhere. 

As part of the UK, Scotland is now being dragged down the international rankings for honest government. Scotland doesn’t need that.

Meanwhile, the Labour Party opposes devolving employment law to Holyrood. It has the same tired old offer for Scotland - long periods of Conservative rule are a price worth paying to be part of the UK. That’s a bad deal. Scotland can do better. 

With independence, Scotland can build a stronger, fairer society, more like the Scandinavian model than what the UK is offering. 

Westminster's Section 35 block on Scottish law fundamentally undermines UK democracy

The UK Government has decided to block the Scottish Government’s Gender Recognition Reform Bill, despite the legislation falling under devolved competence. A move which Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said will almost certainly end up in court.  As we have been predicting, this is a worrying intensification of Westminster’s efforts to undermine devolution and reduce Scotland’s political autonomy.

Make no mistake: this is a political crisis for the UK and it’s one of Westminster's own making because no Westminster party has ever truly been committed to making devolution work.  Of course, they defined devolution working as stopping the inevitable rise in support for Scottish independence and in those terms, it has been an abject failure for the Union.  Devolution has been immensely popular with voters and where devolution has worked is in the Scottish Government's acting to mitigate some of the worst impacts of Westminster austerity, spending more of its budget on social care and Scotland’s NHS (roughly £100 per head) and the abolition of student fees. Where it has been a failure for Scotland is the fact that devolution within the UK comes with the continued failed economic mantra of Laissez-faire capitalism, the recent watering down of anti-casino-banking rules, political corruption and of course, being able to do nothing about the unmitigated disaster that Brexit represents. 

Devolution may have opened the door for the SNP to prove that they are able to run a country differently and with more soul and care for the people. Now that they are supported by the Greens in a majority Scottish Government, they have an unanswerable mandate for change and that is infuriating Wesminsters failing self appointed elites.  In 2017, when giving evidence to the Westminster trade Committee, I (GMK) explained that ‘Devolution was incompatible with Brexit’. I have been proven right many times over and now as both the Tories and Labour have lurched to the right to fight over the xenophobic Brexit vote the Union has become incompatible with Scotland, incompatible with democracy and incompatible with the values of the ordinary Scottish people.

Whether you like it or not, a majority Scottish Government has the mandated right to call an independence referendum; whether you like it or not, it has a mandated right to pass its Gender Recognition Reform legislation. Blocking these moves amounts to nothing more than an assault on democratic principles.  

Westminster enacted Section 35 of the Scotland Act 1998, a previously unused mechanic which has been described by political commentators as the ‘nuclear option’. Section 35 allows the Scottish Secretary of the UK Government to intervene with the passing of a devolved bill if it is believed to adversely affect the operation of reserved matters, that is, areas outside the remit of the devolved government. Despite having years to make amendments and consult with the Scottish Government, the current Conservative Scottish Secretary Alister Jack instead used Section 35 to block the GRR Bill. Translated - essentially, the UK Government is blocking this bill because they don’t like it, which sets a dangerously antidemocratic precedent.

This ruling comes hard on the heels of the UK Supreme Court’s recent move to block a second Scottish independence referendum, as well as an extension to challenges to devolved legislation such as the Rights of the Child Convention. Today the UK Government will push ahead with its regressive Retained EU Law (REUL) Bill which will remove all the mostly eminently sensible EU-derived legislation from the statute book by the end of the year. It's almost as if they thought Brexit isn't going as well as it should because there were still too many protections for exporters and that the food and drink industry needed a harder Brexit.

It is perhaps unsurprising that the first use of Section 35 is to limit a bill which had caused division in both the pro-independence camps. It is a clear divide and rule tactic with Westminster hoping for a muted response due to the nature of the policy involved. Regardless, the bill was approved by two-thirds of MSPs gaining votes from five different political parties. This included the current leader of the Scottish Labour Party, Anas Sarwar and former leader Richard Leonard, as well as the former leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Jackson Carlaw.

This move sets a worrying precedent for how Westminster responds to bills passed by Holyrood in the future. We have to ask what else a UK Government which is politically opposed, hostile even, to the majority elected current Scottish Government might also move to restrict. This does not just undermine devolution but also threatens the tenets of Scottish democracy. 

Finally, regardless of anyone’s opinion of the GRR Bill, it is important to ask: will the UK Government really stop here? What happens if Wesminster blocks legislation on devolved healthcare? On education? On the environment? This ruling exposes a fundamental flaw of devolution as an expression of self-determination - one where it can be overridden when the central government feels like it, especially when they diverge from the devolved government. 

Until Scotland is fully independent, its political autonomy will always be under threat. New Labour are back: Starmer has moved the UK party to the right of Thatcher and is big into Brexit and refuses to defend the blocking of a bill that was supported by 18 out of his party’s 22 elected representatives in the Scottish Parliament. He offers no alternative even for voters of Labour in Scotland. Independence is normal and completely compatible with democracy and the clear desire of the Scottish people to rejoin the EU.

Starmer and Sunak’s speeches try to relegate Scotland to a region of England!

The start of the year has seen keynote speeches from the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and a response from opposition leader Keir Starmer. Both proclaimed they were setting their visions and their priorities for UK governance. One glaring similarity between the two speeches is that they both largely ignored Scotland and the other devolved nations, even implying that Scotland as no more important than an English region.  In particular Starmer's clumsy attempt to suggest similarities between Brexit and Scottish independence demonstrates that he and his New Labour Party have zero understanding of Scotland nor any interest in working in the interests of Scotland.

Sunak did not even manage to say the word “Scotland”

Sunak didn't even mention the words Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland. He used the term “our Union” just once and talked about his priorities being enacted across the UK as a whole, implying that Scotland and the other two nations are no different to the English regions. Far from the previous 'family of nations' narrative or that 'Scotland should lead the UK not leave it', he failed to acknowledge the existence of devolution and ignored the different electoral priorities of the Scottish government.

Sunak did not acknowledge that the policy areas covered by many of his pledges are devolved and he did not discuss mending fences with the Scottish government. 

Nor did he mention dealing with the Northern Irish protocol - surely one of the most pressing issues facing the UK Prime Minister. Getting this wrong could precipitate retaliation from the EU that could deepen the cost of living crisis. The Northern Ireland Assembly (Stormont) is currently suspended and the people of Northern Ireland are engulfed in a constitutional crisis that is a direct result of Brexit.

Sunak’s priorities are anglocentric. He has no understanding or interest in the specific issues affecting Scotland and this speech confirms that he views Scotland merely as an unimportant region of England. 

Stamer tried to conflate support for Scottish independence with support for Brexit

Meanwhile, Keir Starmer claimed both the Brexit vote and the Yes vote in the first independence referendum were motivated by the same political goals. He said that both would be addressed in a “Take Back Control” bill - a bill which has nothing to offer Scotland.

Starmer says of Brexit: “As I went around the country, campaigning for Remain, I couldn’t disagree with the basic case so many Leave voters made to me. People who wanted public services they could rely on. High streets they could be proud of. Opportunities for the next generation. And all of this in their town or city. It was the same in the Scottish referendum in 2014 – many of those who voted ‘yes’ did so for similar reasons."

By likening Brexit to independence, Starmer hopes will put Scottish voters off - and he won't acknowledge that the 2014 'No" campaign told Scots that was the best way to retain EU membership, or that the vision of an independent Scotland in the EU is raising support for independence now. At the same time, he is committing his party to the impossible task of making Brexit work, while suggesting the UK has too many immigrants, in another attempt to curry favour with English right-wing voters. 

Starmer’s “Take back Control” bill offers nothing to Scotland

Starmer made no acknowledgement at all of the disastrous consequences of Brexit for the UK economy, for freedom of movement, for exports, imports or the loss of opportunity for both young and old.

Aping clarion calls of Brexiteers Farage and Johnson, he said his proposed “Take Back Control” bill would devolve powers over “employment support, transport, energy, climate change, housing, culture, childcare provision and how councils run their finances” - most of which are already devolved to Scotland - so either he doesn't know how the UK operates or he is announcing a full scale assault on devolution. 

Starmer also did not mention how he would negotiate with Scotland over its desire for full autonomy and for control of policies such as immigration, foreign policy, energy regulation and borrowing powers. 

Starmer talked about setting up a British energy company - “Great British Energy”. He talked about “clean British energy” being nine times cheaper than imported fossil fuels.  He did not acknowledge what is becoming an increasingly sore point of many Scots - that Scotland is one of the most energy-rich countries in the world - yet we pay some of the highest energy bills in the world. Scotland produces a large proportion of all of the energy produced in the UK but sees little benefit from that. 

The use of the sloganised name Great British Energy is based on his wish to distract people from the fact that a great deal of that cheaper renewable energy is actually Scottish. We also wonder if he is aware that there was a company called British Energy and it was the UK's largest electricity generation company by volume, before being taken over by EDF (Électricité de France) in 2009?  Nothing says Great British energy than selling your biggest energy provider to the French governments publicly owned energy monopoly!

Starmer referred to Glasgow and Dundee in his speech, but only as part of a list of dynamic UK cities. He made no reference to Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales as separate countries with separate governments, different issues and electoral priorities.

Two sides of the same coin - the UK parties have nothing to offer Scotland

The priorities of both UK Unionist parties are policies for England that chime with the electorate south of the border. The leaders not discuss or acknowledge the growing rift with Scotland, the increased support for independence or the Scottish dimension to the energy crisis, where Scotland produces enough renewable energy to power itself and also exports 39% of our electricity to the rest of the UK and yet Scots pay higher bills. 

Starmer addressed the fact that the UK’s economic problems are worse than comparable European countries but he failed to acknowledge the damaging reality of Brexit.  It seems that no matter who the next UK Prime Minister is neither will govern for the benefit of Scotland’s economy, environment, or our communities. 

The arc of history bends towards independence for Scotland

Ice hockey player Wayne Gretzky famously said “I skate to where the puck is going, not to where it has been.” This is much-quoted by business people - because it says in a line what they spend much of their time trying to do.  

They aim to get ahead of underlying trends, and focus on the opportunities that those throw up. And anybody living and working in Scotland - and the UK today - would do well to take a leaf out of Gretzky’s book and start to plan for Scottish independence. 

Sociological study looks for trends, not snapshots

The latest Social Attitudes Survey, released this week showed a majority of Scots want independence. But the significance of this gold-standard sociological study is more than a simple snapshot poll on voting intentions. It is carefully calibrated to monitor trends.

The same question is asked of a randomly selected sample each year and the results can be plotted on a graph. This survey is based on research carried out almost a year ago. But it reveals the fact that for more and more Scots, the current constitutional settlement is no longer acceptable.

Over the last decade, the number of Scots supporting independence has gone from around 28% to above 50%. The Social Attitudes survey began in 1997 and can map the trends since then. 

Ipsos Mori data goes back still further and confirms the trend. In 1979, on the eve of the first devolution referendum, support for independence stood at just 14%. It gradually rose to around a third by the millennium and stayed there until a decade ago, when another upward trend started to appear. 

Some key points from the survey:

  • Over the last decade, support for independence in Scotland rose from 28% to 52%
  • A third of Labour supporters in England think Scotland should be independent
  • Almost four in ten Labour supporters in Scotland support independence
  • 65% of Remainers in Scotland now back Scottish independence, up from 44% in 2016
  • 37% of people in Northern Ireland think it should be either part of Ireland or independent, up from 17% in 2015

(It's also worth noting that 8% of people in Scotland want to abolish the Scottish Parliament, thus demonstrating that not all that do not yet support independence are on the same page.  The majority of those who would abolish Holyrood are supporters of the Conservative Government in Westminster and that demonstrates that devolution is not in safe hands if Scotland were to vote No to independence again.)

Support for independence was boosted by Brexit

The way the UK government enacted its hard Brexit appears to be boosting support for independence. Two-thirds of people who voted to Remain in Scotland now back Scottish independence, a big rise from around the time of the Brexit vote in 2016.  That is a large group as 62% of Scottish people voted against Brexit in the 2016 referendum. It’s not surprising that they are scunnered with what has happened since. 

Every council area in Scotland voted to Remain in the EU. Then, the Scottish Government offered a compromise to the UK Government, by which Scotland would stay in the single market under a protocol similar to Northern Ireland's. That was rejected out of hand and the UK government chose to force a hard Brexit on an unwilling Scotland. Since then it has:

Democracy matters - the survey’s conclusion

The survey, whose authors include polling expert John Curtice, concludes that in a democracy, what people think matters: 

“To secure the compliance of citizens with decisions with which they disagree, democracies need the consent of the governed, and that consent is more likely to be forthcoming if there is widespread public support for the rules under which political power is attained and exercised.” 

Conclusion - keep pushing, the door will open soon

In the 2021 election to the Scottish Parliament, Scotland elected parties that support a new referendum on independence. The vote share they secured - 48% - was the biggest ever and far bigger than the mandate secured by the UK government to push through a hard Brexit. 

Currently, the UK government is refusing to recognise the Scottish people’s right to self-determination. But as the curve of support for independence grows, so will the pressure. The Social Attitudes survey is another point of reference on the upward curve that leads to independence. 

They may not be making this public, but you can bet that many people who work in sectors like finance, technology and health sciences will be already making plans for their future in an independent Scotland. 

Further reading:

Read the full Social Attitudes survey report

Five reasons an independent Scotland can be confident of joining the EU

Remaining in the UK is a threat to Scottish universities

Ten ways the UK government is undermining devolution

Five Reasons Scotland can be confident of rejoining the EU

As Scotland reboots its independence campaign, the European situation has changed in major respects since 2014. Here are some of the factors that underlie the Yes movement’s renewed confidence over EU membership. 

#1 If Scotland had voted ‘Yes; in 2014, we would still be in the EU today

Rewind to 2014. The Spanish Foreign Minister at the time, commented that as long as Scotland became independent by a legal process, Spain would have ‘nothing to say’ about that. But despite this, the media was full of headlines suggesting it might be difficult or take a long time for Scotland to get back in - EU Commission President Manuel Barroso even intervened in the campaign, giving a controversial interview on the Andrew Marr show. His words were interpreted to create a slew of negative headlines

In fact, had there been a Yes’ vote in 2014, even if there had been some kind of paperwork trail to go through, an independent Scotland would be in the European Union today. The rest of the UK, if it wanted to leave, would have had to negotiate a protocol with Scotland of the kind that applies to Northern Ireland since Brexit. 

People who voted ‘No’ in 2014 have every right to feel that they were misled by the Better Together campaign’s claims that independence would lead to leaving the EU and voting No would secure our membership.  A leaflet sent to every home in Scotland on the benefits of being in the UK featured a picture of the EU flag and the words:

"An Influential Voice in Important Places... As one of the EU’s ‘big four’ nations, the UK is more able to protect Scottish interests. "  

#2 Casting doubt on Scotland’s EU membership without evidence won’t fly

Most people didn’t question what they read and heard - the Better Together technique was not to set out a strong case, but just to cast doubt, and feed uncertainty. So Better Together continually suggested that Scotland might not be allowed to join; or that it would have to join a “queue” for membership - even though there isn’t a queue, it is done on a case by case basis. Countries such as Finland and Sweden completed the process in less than three years. 

For more than a year in the run-up to the independence referendum, Scots were subjected to a torrent of headlines, reports, columns, TV debates that suggested Scotland’s EU membership could be rejected, a suggestion without much foundation in fact. Few readers got to the end of these stories, where the comment from the independence side was buried. 

 “‘Impossible’ for Scotland to join EU’” shouted the Scotsman’s banner headline; “Separate Scotland Might Not Get Into EU, warns Barroso” - the Times; “Independent Scotland would find it extremely difficult to join EU” - the Guardian

History has revealed this to be Unionist propaganda - the real risk to Scotland’s EU membership was actually from staying in the UK.  That was underplayed at the time, although some commentators did point it out. But those who suggested this was a possibility in TV debates were greeted with derision. The same tactic is unlikely to work a second time. 

#3 The UK is no longer a member of the EU and has little influence

The most significant change of circumstances today is that the UK is no longer an EU member. The backdrop to the previous referendum was an EU that was keen to retain Britain at the top table. Westminster’s envoys were in constant communication with Brussels. They were able to pressure EU officials and members to get them to intervene in the 2014 campaign.

The situation is very different now. The UK Government is not on good terms with the EU. The next prospective Prime Minister Liz Truss has already made threats to unilaterally tear up the Northern Irish protocol, causing frustration in Brussels. 

In these circumstances, the UK Government would find it difficult to get any EU member country or any senior EU official to do its bidding in terms of threatening Scotland by saying that it would not be allowed to join the EU as an independent country.

#4 Senior EU figures say the EU would “enthusiastically” welcome Scotland after independence.

VP of the Green group in the European Parliament, German MEP Terry Reintke visited Scotland earlier this month to participate in discussions about Scotland’s continued cooperation with the EU. She said:

“If Scotland were to become an independent country, an accession procedure to the European Union would be much easier – as Scotland had previously applied the full acquis [EU statues book] already.”

Sylvie Bermann, one of France’s leading diplomats, and the former ambassador to the UK said that the EU would welcome the accession of an independent Scotland.

“The situation has changed because there’s been Brexit…Probably there would be some negotiation, but [Scotland joining the EU] would be good for Europe. There’s no reason why if there’s this referendum which is accepted that we shouldn’t want to have Scotland – we’ll be very happy.”

Fabian Zuleeg, chief executive of the European Policy Centre in Brussels, said “the mood on the EU side is rather positive” and suggested an independent Scotland might be able to conclude membership negotiations in “two to three years” – similar to Finland in the mid-1990s. Many leading MEPs from every corner of Europe have expressed support and said the process of accession would be smooth.

#5 The Northern Ireland protocol could be a template for independent Scotland

Because Ireland is now in the EU and Northern Ireland is not, the UK and Ireland agreed on the Northern Irish protocol. This is supported by governments in Washington, Brussels, Dublin and Belfast. The First Minister Elect of Northern Ireland Michelle O’Neill is on a trip to Washington meeting US Government representatives, and gave a hard-hitting interview to CNN, defending the protocol. She said: 

"Who wouldn't want the access that we now have to both markets, to the EU and the British markets?"

The protocol has been adjusted in various ways, but it is working for the Northern Irish economy which is growing faster than the UK. While Scotland suffers all the harms and blocks of Brexit, Northern Ireland can trade freely with the EU and also, for the most part, with the UK.

All of the effort that has gone into streamlining border checks for goods traded across the EU’s border with the UK demonstrate how this could effectively happen with Scotland. It may be that the real reason that the UK government wants to tear it up is not to pander to the Democratic Unionist Party but to prevent the protocol showing that independence for Scotland as with the protocol in Northern Ireland could result in relatively few border checks, and those for goods only, not for people. Despite Brexit, both Northern Ireland and Ireland continue to be part of the Common Travel Zone with the UK. 


Scotland was a member of the EU for more than four decades. Most of its laws are compatible with EU statute; it shares the values of rule of law, support for human rights and cooperation. Every single council area in Scotland voted to remain in the EU - it was a strong and unified voice. Despite that, the UK decided to pursue the hard Brexit sought by a factional government. 

Scotland can be confident that returning to EU membership will be straightforward and should take less than three years. The process of accession could begin while Scotland is still negotiating the detail of its independence from the UK Government.

The day that Britain died - rights ripped from Scotland’s devolution settlement 

History may record that Britain finally died the day the UK Government decided to rip the European Convention on Human Rights from the heart of Scotland’s devolution settlement.

The leader of the group which drew up the Convention, in 1950, was a Scottish lawyer, Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe. As a prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials, David had seen first-hand how international justice could be effectively applied to support universal rights for individuals. He guided the draft, which has influenced the understanding of human rights throughout Europe ever since. 

At one time, this Convention would have been regarded as the bedrock of British values. But now the Government in Westminster seeks to cross out the bits it doesn’t like. It has declared its intention to remove these from the Scotland Act without the consent of the Scottish Parliament. 

Perhaps history will record that the values enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights turned out to be Scottish values and that English values are rather different. 

Fundamental disregard for the devolution settlement 

The Convention was used to halt a flight deporting refugees against their will to Rwanda, and now the UK Government intends to excise sections from British law. The changes it intends to make include removing the right to trial by jury - for indidviduals the Government doesn’t like. 

The Bill makes clear that the UK Government intends to amend the Scotland Act of 1998 by replacing all references to the Convention with the UK Government’s own Bill - that will clearly have to take place without the consent of the Scottish Parliament. That shows a fundamental disregard for the principle that the devolution settlement would be respected, and should not be changed by Westminster against the will of Holyrood.

The UK Government has decided not to submit its Bill for pre-legislative scrutiny by the House of Commons or the Scottish Parliament. The UK Government has made it clear it doesn't recognize any sovereignty for Holyrood so it doesn't matter if the Scottish people and their representatives consent or not.

Those who voted No in 2014 believing assurances by Unionist parties that the devolution settlement would be respected have every right to feel betrayed. 

The referendum for the Scottish Parliament had overwhelming support

The battle for Home Rule had been raging for a century or more when, in 1979, Scotland voted in favor of a Scottish Assembly. Despite the fact that the margin for Yes was similar to Brexit, Scotland didn’t get its own Parliament because a clause had been inserted by the then Labour government that said 40% of the electorate had to vote ‘yes’ in order to succeed.

So throughout the subsequent 18 years of Conservative rule, Scotland’s governance was left entirely in the hands of Westminster. Most of the time, the ruling party didn’t have enough Scottish MPs to fill the Grand Committee so it was packed with English MPs from the Shires who knew little and cared less about Scottish affairs.

Scotland’s industries, many of which had been thriving in the post-war years, were decimated. Workers were let down by a complacent, London-based managerial elite and didn't have the government backing other small countries had. Economically, socially and culturally, Scotland struggled, feeling its own powerlessness and lack of ability to influence Westminster’s policies. 

In 1997, the Labour government was swept into power. It was led by several prominent Scots, (including Donald Dewar)  who had promised to introduce - finally - Home Rule for Scotland. The referendum of 1997 was greeted with an overwhelming yes - 75% of the vote. 

The Scotland Act of 1998 was based on the shared values of the Convention

The Scotland Act of 1998 was supposed to be the bedrock of a new relationship within the UK.  Woven into it was the European Convention of Human Rights, representing a framework of shared values on which to build a strong democratic Union. 

That dream died with Brexit. The UK Government removed Scotland from the European Union against its will, without consent or consultation. Since then it has taken every opportunity to undermine the devolution settlement, repatriating powers to itself with a series of Acts starting with the Internal Markets Act.

This new plan demonstrates that Holyrood has no sovereignty. The Scottish parliament is powerless to defend the rights of Scottish citizens.

A “deeply regressive” Bill

The Scottish Human Rights Commission called the provisions  "deeply regressive". It has particular concerns about the following proposals in the bill: 

  • directing national courts as to how to interpret and apply human rights, which it says would interfere with the role of courts, undermine the separation of powers, and reduce accountability for breaches of rights;
  • decoupling UK courts’ interpretation of Convention rights from the European Court of Human Rights, which will introduce confusion and uncertainty for rights holders and duty bearers alike, and may further reduce rights protection;
  • requiring a rights holder to demonstrate "significant disadvantage" before being permitted to pursue a remedy for a breach of their human rights in court, which would "severely undermine the development of a rights-respecting culture and the international human rights requirement to provide an adequate remedy for all human rights breaches";
  • requiring UK courts to take into account the wider conduct of rights holders, undermining the universality of human rights, a fundamental principle of human rights law; and
  • the impact of repealing the Human Rights Act in Scotland – the Act is embedded into the Scotland Act, and "The potential impact of repealing the Human Rights Act, in terms of the fulfillment of human rights in Scotland, does not appear to have been adequately considered."

The Law Society of Scotland's President Murray Etherington said:“For over 70 years we have benefited from the protections offered by the European Convention on Human Rights. Since 1998 those rights have been built into UK and Scottish law and it is vital that they are not diminished as a result of new legislation.”

There are of course many English people who are also concerned, and see the damage that is being done, although many of the same people supported or facilitated Brexit, despite knowing it was not supported by Scotland or Northern Ireland. Edward Garnier QC, former solicitor-general warned in a column in the Times that: 

The Bill of Rights will “further bolster the concerns of those who believe with some justification that this government has a reckless disregard for domestic and international law.”


Why doesn’t BBC Scotland tell the truth about Brexit?

As evidence mounts that Brexit is playing a major part in the UK’s cost of living crisis, the national broadcaster appears to be avoiding reporting honestly on the subject. Why is this? One reason is that as Scotland moves towards an independence referendum, the issue of Brexit is particularly sensitive.

Scotland voted against Brexit - it was foisted upon us.  An independent Scotland would be able to rejoin the EU as an associate member immediately, and if the referendum is held in 2023, it could reasonably expect to be a full member by January 1, 2025. 

Every mention of Brexit damage is a boost for the Yes campaign - and presumably, this is one reason why the Unionist British Broadcasting Corporation goes to Orwellian lengths to avoid telling the truth about its contribution to UK inflation - in April they edited out the word “Brexit” in the middle of an interview with Scotland’s National Farming Union President Martin Kennedy. They then blamed tailbacks at Dover on holidaymakers not extra Brexit checks, and now inflation is being blamed on the Ukraine war not the post-Brexit slump in the British pound.

Bloomberg, the Financial Times and other international outlets report the Brexit effect

High-quality, independent news media outlets like Bloomberg and the FT report the UK has worse inflation than similar G7 countries. Since the Brexit vote the pound has slid against the dollar and that is leading to extra steep inflation. It is also weakening against the Euro and Bloomberg predicts a Euro will be worth 90p by the autumn. 

“Citigroup Inc, Bank of America Corp and Standard Bank all see the UK as an outlier in the developed world because of the economic damage wrought by the decision to cut ties with the European Union. Even as price pressures start to fade elsewhere, they say UK inflation will be higher-than-normal because of immigration controls and supply chain disruption.”

Bloomberg, June 22.

The Financial Times BIg Read a day earlier explored the negative consequences of leaving the EU on the shrinking economy, the falling pound and the flatlining investment curve.  It was headlined  "

The BBC appears unwilling to acknowledge what international outlets do

But the BBC seems unwilling to report this in the same way as these respected international sources. In a long item on BBC Scotland’s flagship “Good Morning Scotland” on June 22, for example, reporters discussed the effect of higher prices on Scots. That pattern was repeated in a report by the BBC’s economics editor Faisal Islam on the BBC News at Ten on June 20. Neither show reported the Brexit effect on inflation. 

Good Morning Scotland and other news shows such as “the Bottom Line” discuss the impact of higher costs on agriculture and food prices. They do not explain to viewers why items like oil, gas, diesel, fertiliser cost more for UK buyers.  Lower trust in sterling, lower trust in the UK's direction of travel means a pound buys less on the international markets. 

Food imported from Europe costs more

Imported food - fresh fruit, salad, pork, tomatoes, jam etc - which predominantly came from the EU, have experienced a substantial Brexit effect. Brexit increased average food prices by about 6 percent last year - and that is likely to increase.

The UK has the lowest growth in the G20  bar Russia - OECD

The UK’s inflation rate hit another 40-year high in May, reaching 9.1 percent, its highest level since 1982. The Bank of England expects the inflation rate to exceed 11 percent in October.

The UK is lagging behind the rest of the G7 in terms of trade recovery - business investment, trails other industrialised countries, in spite of Treasury tax breaks to try to drive it up. Next year, according to the OECD think-tank, the UK will have the lowest growth in the G20, apart from sanctioned Russia. 

Brexit has shrunk the UK economy by £100bn a year

The Office for Budget Responsibility first predicted in March 2020, that Brexit would reduce productivity and UK gross domestic product by 4 percent compared with a world where the country remained inside the EU. It says that a little over half of that damage has yet to occur. 

That level of decline, worth about £100bn a year in lost output, means lost revenues for the Treasury of roughly £40bn a year. That money might have enabled them to inflation-proof the Scottish budget - the money “gifted” to Holyrood by Westminster which is being slashed in real terms by inflation, despite the Treasury pulling in extra billions through a windfall tax on Scotland's assets.

Sterling fell 10 percent after the Brexit referendum

Sterling fell almost 10 percent after the Brexit referendum in June 2016, against currencies that match the UK’s pattern of imports. It did not recover. This sharp depreciation was not followed by a boom in exports as UK goods and services became cheaper on global markets, but it did raise the price of imports and pushed up inflation. 

While the UK was still in the EU and during the Brexit “transition phase”, there were no significant effects on trade flows. But this has changed since stricter border controls were introduced at the start of 2021, imposing no tariffs, but significant checks and controls at the formerly frictionless border. 

Scotland makes a third of the UK”s food and drink exports so it takes the hardest hit

Scotland accounts for a third of the UK”s food and drink exports and many smaller Scottish businesses are struggling to absorb the extra costs of the non-tariff barriers. Many have stopped exporting to the EU completely. The Scottish economy is now trailing behind Northern Ireland which benefits from the protocol, which keeps a door open to the EU single market.

But BBC Scotland is failing to report the effect of Brexit on Scotland’s economy, which is worsening over time.  

The UK’s threat to rip up the Northern Ireland protocol means Scotland's universities have now been excluded from the world’s biggest science funding stream, Horizon, losing one billion Euros and the international prestige that would have brought. BBC Scotland has failed to cover this issue. 

The Scottish Highlands and Islands were particularly dependent on summer workers from EU countries. Summer visitors will notice the lack of facilities due to shortage of seasonal workers. That means those businesses will pay less in taxes. Farmers chose to plant less this year and that will lead to higher prices for food. But BBC Scotland has largely ignored the Brexit effect on agriculture. 

Is the BBC taking an anti-independence stance?

The BBC is a UK institution, at its core the BBC doesn't want change. It has now institutionally accepted Brexit and therefore despite Brexit being the foundation for mass inflation, disruption at ports and airports and loss of economic growth the BBC ignores it as "not news". The BBC is a very top-down organisation run from London - journalists who try to discuss the Brexit effect will soon be sidelined. People who want to get promoted try to please the bosses - and that means not using the B word. 

The issue is particularly sensitive in a Scottish context. Brexit was forced on Scotland without consent or even consultation. BBC Scotland now seems desperate to avoid acknowledging what international publications like Bloomberg and the Financial Times regularly admit - that Brexit is playing a major role in driving inflation. Is the BBC’s reluctance to report the truth about Brexit also motivated by concerns it will feed into support for independence?

The moral case for independence - should Scotland allow itself to be represented by lawbreakers?

The UK Government’s draft law to illegally set aside part of the Northern Ireland protocol threatens to cause reputational and economic damage to Scotland as well as to the rest of the UK. It also creates a moral argument for independence - should Scotland allow itself to be represented in foreign affairs by lawbreakers? For as long as Scotland remains part of the Union, we effectively allow the UK to speak for us. 

The UK government is taking a recklessly one-sided position over Northern Ireland  - it fails to recognise that the majority of those elected in Northern Ireland’s recent elections support the protocol, including many business people from both sides of the divide, who recognise that Northern Ireland is doing better economically than ever before - second only to London in the recent ONS growth figures

Having access to the EU via an open border with Ireland whilst having a border between the rest of the UK and Northern Ireland has massively boosted Northern Ireland's economy compared to the rest of Brexit-damaged Britain.  This is the case study that the UK Government wants to destroy. 

The Republic of Ireland supports the protocol, which is helping to mitigate some of the economic damage Brexit threatened. The Scottish government also supports the protocol - indeed it asked for something similar but was ignored. The EU supports the protocol and so does the USA. 

The draft bill “has been declared illegal by the most prominent legal minds in the UK.”

It is no surprise to anyone that leaving the EU single market created a difficult situation with Ireland, where there is a contested territory that was created by the UK in dubious circumstances a century ago. The UK government in 2020 signed up to a deal that placed the border between the UK and the EU in the Irish Sea, instead of across the island of Ireland. It was a compromise position to respect the Good Friday Agreement. 

And yet the UK Government has now introduced a draft bill to set this on its head which even moderate Conservatives recognise is illegal. The Financial Times Policy Editor Peter Foster wrote this week in an article entitled “UK’s approach to solving the protocol problems is illegal”  that the draft bill “has been declared illegal both in Brussels and by a clear balance of the most prominent legal minds in the UK.”

Some commentators see the draft bill as a dog’s breakfast which will never become law, at least in its current state. In order to foster her leadership ambitions, Liz Truss allowed it to be dictated by the right-wing, Brexit-ultra European Research Group: ‘“The ERG was driving it,” said one former Tory cabinet minister. Johnson, also relying on ERG support to keep him in Downing Street, could not afford to be outflanked by a leadership rival and so seized on the idea.’

But it went too far even for Johnson: “By the time Truss presented the latest draft to the “global Britain strategy” meeting of cabinet ministers last week, even Johnson chided his foreign secretary for giving too much ground to the ERG.” It was watered down somewhat with a residual, advisory role left for the European Court of Justice and some scope for NI businesses to use a dual regulatory approach, effectively adopting the higher standard of the EU over the UK. 

The DUP has not committed to participate in power-sharing at Stormont even if it is passed

The legislation itself is likely to face a rocky road to becoming law, it will be batted back and forth between the Commons and the Lords. Even if the bill were to become law before the next general election, which will be in 2024 at the latest,  it would be unlikely to satisfy the demands of the Democratic Unionist Party.  

The DUP has given no commitments that even this Bill would be enough to persuade it to participate in power-sharing with Sinn Fein at Stormont. The DUP is no longer the largest party in Northern Ireland and a slow demographic shift in the province means it is unlikely ever to be the largest party again. 

EU retaliation is already damaging Scotland

The EU has already started to retaliate - by barring UK and Scottish research scientists from the world’s biggest funding stream. Scotland’s Universities tend to punch above their weight in terms of research grants and this is a major blow. The Guardian reported that 16 of the UK’s top research teams have already indicated they will move their work to Europe to keep the prestigious funding awards - it didn’t name them or give their locations. 

Brussels has launched legal action against the UK over the Northern Ireland protocol. The European Commission has announced it will resume a previously paused legal action against the UK for failing to implement full border checks for goods arriving in Northern Ireland from Great Britain.  

Anger is mounting in the US

The US officially reacted calmly to the draft Bill this week, saying it will proceed with trade talks and: "The U.S. priority remains protecting the gains of the Belfast Good Friday agreement”, but there are signs of increasing anger. Bob Menendez, Democratic chair of the Senate foreign relations committee, called Johnson’s decision “an irresponsible move that threatens the 24 years of peace”. 

The UK Government appears to be risking what it once called ‘the special relationship” and regarded as an important post-Brexit trading opportunity for ideological reasons. Scotland has a dog in this fight - for example, whisky exports could be at risk if the UK continues to act in this reckless and irresponsible way.

Scotland is part of a UK that disregards its obligations

But, more importantly,  as part of the United Kingdom, Scotland is being represented internationally by a Government that is  breaking the law and disregarding obligations that it signed up to. 

The UK Government is effectively trying to bully Ireland into accepting a situation that is clearly inimical to its interests. But for once, Ireland is not alone at the negotiating table, as it was a century ago when the Anglo-Irish agreement of 1921 was signed. 

An independent Scotland could distance itself from a reckless UK Government that has no electoral mandate in Scotland for its chaotic adventurism. But, for as long as it remains part of the Union, the UK Government speaks for Scotland in international affairs. The economic and reputational damage is already evident and may worsen. 

Ten reasons Scotland can't afford to stay in the UK any longer

Campaigners for the union try to make people fear that independence somehow risks damaging Scotland’s prosperity. Indeed, it sometimes appears to be their only tactic. All the evidence suggests that Scotland has what it takes to thrive as an independent nation - it will be the most advanced and wealthiest nation ever to achieve its independence. Within the Union, Scotland is not as wealthy as many similar-sized northern European nations, many of whom lack Scotland's massive natural wealth and economic advantages. In fact, it trails behind even Northern Ireland in terms of growth. There is a cost to staying in the UK too, both in financial terms and in the opportunity cost. The Union Scotland is failing to realise its true potential and it looks set to continue on that path for as long as it is held back by a combination of Westminster incompetence and a lack of care for Scotland's interests.

1 The windfall tax on Scottish assets is bailing out the UK

The windfall tax on oil and gas companies' profits, combined with tax takes from the energy companies and petrol taxes levied at the pump are going to raise billions for the UK Treasury. Bloomberg reported the Treasury will collect £12 billion of tax from the oil and gas sector in 2022 - before adding the £5 billion windfall tax. That does not include fuel duties on petrol and heating oil which are expected to raise £26.2 billion this year.

This money is being raised largely from Scotland’s natural assets. And yet Scots pay more than anyone else in the UK to fuel their cars and heat their homes. To add insult to injury, headlines at the time of the last independence referendum told voters Scotand’s oil was about to run out. ​​In May 2014, one of the BBC’s leading stories reported “In just over five years Britain will have run out of oil, coal and gas.

The windfall tax also carries a tax ‘super-deductible’ that is designed to encourage more fossil fuel extraction. The UK Government is continuing a half century of mismanaging Scotland’s energy potential the same way. 

2 The UK Government has demonstrated it can’t be trusted to invest fairly

In an act of breathtaking political hubris, the UK Government passed over the Acorn carbon capture project in one of Europe’s biggest energy producing areas, Aberdeen. The Scottish Cluster – comprised of major industrial emitters, as well Acorn’s developers Storegga Geotechnologies, Shell and Harbour Energy – would have been an obvious choice for the technology. Instead, the UK Government decided to invest in marginal constituencies in the North of England. They demonstrated they cannot be trusted to help Scotland realise its potential to become the renewables powerhouse of northern Europe. 

3 For Scotland to realise its green energy potential requires a massive investment in the national grid

Scotland could power the whole UK and more. The Northern Isles alone could power the whole of Scotland. Right now, wind farms in Orkney have to pay financial penalties for creating more energy than the outdated grid can take. It doesn't matter how much tidal, wind and hydro energy they can produce, it is worthless - even a negative cost - without an efficient, renewables-based grid. The UK’s privatised National Grid is still configured around coal-fired power stations in the north of Engand that no longer exist. Creating a grid that could support Scotland’s transition to green power would require a multi-billion investment. 

Robert Gordon University recently calculated that for Aberdeen to become a global hub for renewable energy would take a £17 billion investment - and the money needs to start coming in now.  The ‘Making the Switch’ review says that “urgent capital investment” is urgent - without it the UK will miss its climate targets and Aberdeen will miss the boat. Yet the UK Government is investing only paltry, tiny sums for this important work.  Instead, the UK Government passed a law putting a levy on all UK energy bills to fund outdated and increasingly expensive nuclear power that Scotland doesn’t need.

If Scotland was independent and produced 100% of its own energy requirement from cheaper renewable sources it could provide cheaper energy across the country. There are many ways to store renewable power nowadays - including pumped storage hydro. 

4 Scotland’s economy is visibly shrinking due to Brexit

The Centre for European Reform (CER) has concluded that by the end of last year the UK economy was 5.2%, or £31 billion, smaller than it would have been if the UK was still in the EU. 

Scotland is being hit worse than other areas of the UK. It has one of the oldest populations in the world, with an average age 42, two years higher than the UK average, and no immigration levers. Losing free movement and the pool of EU nationals who could come here to work means that hotels across the Highlands and islands are restricted to residents only for dinner; or even shut; restaurants are shut more of the time; care homes are reducing capacity and crops are not being planted

5 Northern Ireland’s economy is growing - Scotland’s isn’t

Data released by the Office of National Statistics ONS this week shows that Northern Ireland is doing way better than Scotland. It is outperforming all the rest of the UK, except for London. Only those two regions have gone back into economic growth since the pandemic. 

That is because Northern Ireland is protected from some of the worst effects of Brexit on trade by the NI Protocol. It still has a foot in the single market while also trading freely with the UK. 

After the Brexit vote, the Scottish Government suggested a compromise position which would mean Scotland having a similar half-in, half-out status to Nothern Ireland but that was rejected out of hand. 

6 The UK has the worst inflation in G7 - and the worst economic growth in the  G20 bar Russia

The 9% rise in the UK consumer price index is the highest since records began in 1989, outstripping the 8.4% annual rise posted in March 1992 and well ahead of the 7% seen in March of this year.

The UK is expected to have the highest inflation in the G7 not just this year but also in 2023 and 2024, according to economists. A Financial Times analysis of the causes of price increases across the world’s leading economies shows that Britain — where the inflation rate hit a 40-year high of 9 per cent in April — combines the worst aspects of other G7 countries. 

The OECD has predicted that the UK will have the worst economic growth of any G20 country bar Russia. The reason things are so bad for the UK is Brexit. 

7 The pound has lost 20% of its value - pushing inflation upwards

Since the Brexit vote, sterling has been on the slide and has lost 20% of its value. Oil is priced in dollars and is bought on the international markets - so petrol, heating oil, fertiliser and many other vital imports cost more and that adds to inflation. 

Mathew Lynn wrote in the Daily Telegraph recently: “We can no longer rule out that sterling will fall all the way to parity with the dollar for the first time in its history. Our departure from the European Union has worsened the trade deficit at precisely the wrong moment. It hit £278bn in the first quarter of the year, the highest figure on record, and equivalent to 1.8pc of GDP….this is a big enough deficit to merit concern about the stability of sterling.” 

8 The UK Government is squeezing Scotland’s budget - and it has to spend millions mitigating UK policies

The Scottish Fiscal Commission confirmed in December that: “Overall the Scottish Budget in 2022-23 is 2.6 percent lower than in 2021-22. After accounting for inflation the reduction is 5.2 percent.”

The situation is significantly worse The Scottish government gets no extra money in recognition of the huge sums being raised from taxing Scottish assets. Instead, it has to spend almost £600m, from its limited, fixed budget, mitigating policies which are out of step with Scotland’s electoral choices and designed to make life harder for the poor - such as the bedroom tax and the so-called rape clause which limits benefits to just two children per family. 

9 Loss of EU support for the Highland and Islands, food production and education

Scotland’s universities are being debarred from applying as associate members to the EU’s Horizon fund, the biggest science funding stream in the world. In the first retaliation for the UK Government’s posturing over the Northern Ireland protocol and Brexit, the EU has barred the UK from applying. Scotland's unis will lose a billion Euros

The Highlands and Islands are also set to lose large sums of money in vital funding - it seems the UK Government mislead voters when it promised to match at least the EU structural funds - its current plans won't do that. The structural funding is just one stream of EU support among many - and as the EU recognises "peripherality" which the UK Government doesn't, the Highlands and islands looks set to be a heavy loser from Brexit. Agriculture also looks set to lose out as the replacement for CAP won’t be as generous - more of the cost of food production will be paid by the consumer, and less by the taxpayer. 

10 The UK Government broke its promise on the triple lock, exposing pensioners to inflation and poverty

The UK Government broke its manifesto commitment to raise pensions in line with average wage growth at the worse possible time. Prices have soared. Pensioners, particularly those who are ill or disabled, are especially exposed to hardship caused by rising energy prices. Inflation on basic foodstuffs is also affecting their quality of life. Pensions rose by just 3% this April while inflation is running at around 9%. Even if the triple lock were reinstated in the autumn it would leave pensioners worse off and how could we trust the UK Government's pension promises ever again?

Scotland can no longer afford to sit by and let Westminster decide

An independent Scotland would be smaller and more agile than the UK, it could start making better decisions for Scotland on day one of independence. It could make decisions that are in line with the electoral priorities of Scots, such as rejoining the EU. It could use taxes raised on Scotland's assets to invest in the infrastructure that is needed for the next century of energy production.