Pages tagged with "EU"

Who do you want to represent Scotland internationally - so-called "lords" or democratic representatives? 

Who do you want to represent Scotland internationally - unelected peers or democratic representatives? 

Who has the right to represent Scotland’s interests abroad? Is it elected representatives such as Angus Robertson - or unelected Conservative donors such as ‘lord’ Malcolm Offord? Many will ask - what possible right does Malcolm Offord have to represent Scotland internationally? And yet he does. 

The UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has said that all meetings between Scottish Government ministers and overseas governments must be organised through the UK Government and attended by its own officials. The latest move represents a step up from reports that UK officials had been asked to hold follow-up meetings with any foreign dignitaries who meet with Scottish ministers.

According to polling analysed by Professor John Curtice on “What Scotland Thinks” - more Scots say they want Holyrood to have power and responsibility over foreign policy than say Westminster (where many more members are now unelected than are elected). 

A new attempt to undermine devolution

This is new. It is an attempt to delegitimize and undermine Scottish Government efforts to promote Scotland abroad. In the past, Scotland’s elected representatives have worked along with the UK’s network of embassies and consulates to promote Scottish businesses, tourism, education and so on. Before the Parliament came along, Scottish business and trade organisations did the same - because the UK has never promoted Scotland effectively internationally. This is a clear role of the devolved Parliament - which has not been questioned before.

But the UK Government is stepping in to constrain and curtail elected representatives’ work. Recently, Westminster’s Scottish Affairs Committee heard how at an event in Paris, the Scotland Office intervened at the last moment to disrupt the Scottish Government’s event to promote Scotland’s food and drink sector, causing embarrassment to both the Government and businesses. 

Scotland has its own identity and needs its own representation internationally

Scotland has its own identity and needs separate representation on the world stage - it isn’t helpful to subsume it in UK-wide promotions. That should be done by the people Scotland elects at the ballot box. External Affairs Minister Angus Robertson, who has been undermined in his efforts to do this, is an elected MSP. 

In contrast, Malcolm Offord was rejected at the ballot box when he stood for election to Holyrood in 2021. Offord believes that Scotland is too poor and its people are too incapable to survive and thrive as an independent country - hardly a positive message to send internationally. 

But whatever Offord says and does when he is abroad is up to him and his Conservative cronies - he can never, ever be voted out at the ballot box. He is not democratically accountable in Scotland. 

An unelected Conservative crony now represents Scotland on important trade missions

At the end of 2022, Offord represented Scotland and the UK on a trip to the Arctic Circle where he met many leading Icelandic business figures and politicians and may have taken the opportunity to brief against Scotland. 

In 2021, Offord travelled to India with Liz Truss to represent Scotland at events again involving politicians, business people and leaders of civic society, where again he is likely to have briefed that Scotland is an insignificant region of the UK that could not survive as an independent country. 

Offord’s propagandist past

‘Lord’ Malcolm Offord has a history as an anti-independence propagandist. He is not accountable to any voter. 

Offord was the director of Acanchi, a PR firm, that set up what purported to be a “grassroots” No campaign group in 2014, called “Vote No Borders”. They made a glossy propaganda video that was shown extensively on the BBC in the run up to the 2014 referendum as a news item. Acanchi also made scare videos for the cinema using the name “Vote No Borders” - which did not exist as a real group. Grassroots campaigning groups for a “Yes” vote - such as Business for Scotland - did not get their campaigning material shown without comment on BBC News channels. 

Offord also donated £147,000 to the Conservative Party and he donated to fund Michael Gove’s personal election expenses. He was then awarded a permanent seat at Westminster by scandal-hit PM Boris Johnson. 

Only independence can give Scotland control of its international profile

Under devolution, Scotland should have the right to work with the UK’s embassies and consulates to promote Scottish interests. Scotland has a separate identity and its own brands. 

But the UK Government is moving in to aggressively undermine that. 

The Scottish electorate has no say over what “peers” like Malcolm Offord choose to do or say when abroad. He can never, ever lose his seat in the UK Parliament as long as he lives. It has been awarded to him permanently - against the direct wishes of the Scottish electorate as expressed at the ballot box. 

And yet Offord is regarded by the UK Government as having more right to represent Scotland abroad than democratic representatives. 

Only with independence can Scotland ensure democratic accountability for its representatives and the right to promote Scotland’s interests internationally. 

Further info

Watch a video about Offord’s ‘Vote No Borders” campaign

 

Building a better future - lessons on independence from the Slovak Republic

There are few countries in the world with anything like Scotland’s long history of nationhood which are NOT independent. Scotland emerged as a kingdom in the 9th century and remained as an independent sovereign state until 1707, when it entered into the Treaty of Union. 

Looking at global examples is not meant to provide exact comparisons -  but it can be instructive to see the ways other countries successfully - and peacefully - journeyed towards independence. 

Lessons from the Slovak Republic

The Slovak Republic, now an independent country within the EU, has almost the same population size as Scotland - 5.4 million - but it is about one-third smaller. A landlocked, mountainous area of central Europe,  it was a semi-autonomous duchy within the Hungarian Empire in the middle ages, but became a fully independent country for the first time when it broke with the Czech Republic (both used to be part of Czechoslovakia).  It is often referred to as Slovakia, but its official title is the Slovak Republic.

Initially, nationalism was based on Slovaks’ desire to preserve their different ethnic and cultural identity, but in the 21st century, it has adopted the kind of civic nationalism that characterises the Scottish independence movement. 

Since independence, the Slovak Republic’s GDP has started to reach parity with the Czech Republic, which was better off before the split. Although it is not a wealthy country, the percentage of people at risk of poverty and social exclusion is lower in Slovakia than in the UK. 

The Velvet Revolution 

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, demonstrations began against Communist rule in Czechoslovakia. On November 20, 1989, an estimated 500,000 protestors gathered in Prague. The entire top tier of the Czechoslovakian government resigned a few days later - they peacefully relinquished power and the one-party state came to an end. In June 1990, the first first democratic elections were held. 

At that time the Czech area’s GDP was 20% higher than the Slovak area. Cash transfers to the Slovak area, which had been the norm, stopped in 1991. The two areas’ leaders decided to split into independent countries. There was no referendum.

As the dominant economic power, the Czechs were concerned about potential damage to their currency. The Slovaks agreed to introduce their own version - initially by stamping a crest on Czech banknotes. 

The Velvet Divorce

At midnight on December 31, 1992, Czechoslovakia peacefully split into the Czech and Slovak Republics. On January 1, 1993, the National Bank of Slovakia was formed. Just a few weeks later on Feb 8,1993, Slovakia introduced its own currency, the koruna, which replaced the Czech koruna at the same rate. The transition was smooth. The two countries remained in a currency union and continue to cooperate closely.  

Building a stronger economy post-independence

In 1995, the Slovak Republic signed an Association Agreement with the EU. In 2003, a referendum on joining the EU was held, with 93.7% voting Yes. The Slovak and Czech Republics were two of the countries that became EU members as part of the 2004 enlargement

On January 1, 2009, Slovakia adopted the Euro as its national currency. Slovakia became a more integral part of the EU than their neighbours, because of their adoption of the Euro and their greater enthusiasm for taking part in the banking and fiscal unions. The Czech Republic still does not use the Euro. 

Since joining the EU, Slovakia’s GDP per capita has risen to 95% of the Czech Republic’s. Poverty has also reduced significantly. Pensions are about the same rate in both countries. 

The Slovak Republic is subdivided into 8 regions, each having a certain amount of autonomy. The capital and largest city is Bratislava. In 2019, Zuzana Čaputová, an environmental campaigner, became Slovakia's first female president (there is also a Prime Minister). The country has been very dependent on Russian gas and is now attempting to speed up a transition to renewable energy. 

The rise of the Slovakian independence movement

Arguments for independence started to gain force in the 19th century when Slovakia was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. At that time, Hungary started to force people to assimilate, adopting the Hungarian language and culture. 

When revolution erupted in 1848, the Slovaks supported the Austrian Emperor’s side, hoping for independence from Hungary, but they failed. Thereafter relations between Slovaks and the state of Hungary deteriorated. 

The rise and fall of Czechoslovakia

After the First World War, in the chaos that surrounded the break up of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, several territories broke away and joined together to form Czechoslovakia. 

In 1938, the Munich Agreement, which UK PM Neville Chamberlain famously signed with Hitler, allowed Germany to annexe part of Czechoslovakia - the Suddetenland. The remaining country became Czecho-Slovakia with more autonomy promised for Slovakia. In fact, Slovakia became a puppet regime of Nazi Germany. Almost all of the Jews, along with gypsies and dissidents were deported to death camps. In 1944, there was an uprising against Nazi occupation - the Slovak National Uprising. It was unsuccessful and thousands of people were put to death. 

After the Second World War, Czechoslovakia was taken over by the Soviet Union. It became a puppet regime of the USSR, behind the Iron Curtain. In 1968, armed tanks rolled into Prague to put down an uprising called the Prague Spring. In 1969, Czechoslovakia became a federation of the Czech and Slovak Republics but it remained under Soviet control, with only limited autonomy, until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

Conclusion - it is possible to build a better future with independence in Europe

There are of course many differences between Scotland’s story and that of the Slovak Republic. But when Unionists pour scorn on Scotland’s plans, it is useful to look at what Slovakia managed to accomplish in a relatively short time.

Since gaining independence, the Slovak Republic has managed to increase the prosperity of its citizens and to reduce relative poverty. They have seized the opportunity of joining the EU to improve trade and cooperation.

Scots have every reason to feel confident that Scotland can also accomplish the task of building an independent nation. Scotland is significantly more prepared, and has a wealthier more advanced economy that the Slovak Republic had when it became independent.

More independence lessons

Too wee, too poor for independence? Malta didn’t think so  - read more here

Why Norway Chose to Become an Independent Country –  read more here

Why Quebec’s independence dream went wrong - read more here

New Zealand’s century-long journey to independence - read more here 

As Jamaica proudly celebrates 60 years of independence - read more here

 

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. 

Poll shows 68% of voters want an independent Scotland to rejoin the EU

A large scale poll by Believe in Scotland conducted by Panelbase has found a two thirds majority of support amongst Scottish voters for an independent Scotland to rejoin the EU. 

The poll of 2,006 people also found independence support to be at 48%. This is an increase from a similar sized recent Lord Ashcroft poll which had Yes at 44%.  It's worth noting that Ashscroft is not a British Polling Council member and does not need to use the standard methodology and sampling processes of more credible polling operations. 48% Yes is in the ballpark of where independence support has been for months. 

What about 16 and 17 year olds and EU nationals

Given the prospect of a Westminster General Election (UKGE) being used as a defacto referendum, we recalculated independence support by removing 16 and 17 year olds and EU nationals (as they would not be able to vote in a UKGE) and this gave the same 48% result. The only difference was that the poll rounded up to 48% rather than down to 48%, meaning that this cohort of voters represents a less than 1% loss to the Yes vote. 

Rejoining the EU

The poll also showed that 68% of voters would want an independent Scotland to rejoin the EU. 

On Saturday 18th February, Believe in Scotland hosted the first Scottish Independence Congress. This online event was attended by more than 300 individuals, with 241 voting delegates from 126 local and national Yes groups. Delegates were asked to vote on a series of measures, including whether or not an independent Scotland should rejoin the EU. 80% said Yes- only 1.5% said No, while 3.5% were undecided. The second most popular option at 15% was for an independent Scotland to join EFTA (the European Free Trade Area). Removing the undecided, that's a massive 98% in favour of undoing the damage of Brexit, with full EU membership securing a supermajority amongst the organisers of the Yes movement. 

The demographic breakdown of the data shows that support for an independent Scotland rejoining the EU holds a majority in every age range surveyed, with significant majorities in favour in the under-55 age group. Those in the youngest demographics lead the charge, with 85% of females and 81% of males aged 16-34 years old in favour of rejoining.

Regret over Brexit is beginning to surface throughout the UK. A poll conducted by Focaldata for Unherd Britain found that only one Westminster constituency in the UK has a majority that thinks the UK was right to leave the EU. As the fog of COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine lifts, the true economic fallout of Brexit is coming to light. 

This sentiment is shared by many in Scotland, with 61% of people saying that Brexit is a major factor in causing the current cost of living crisis and 29% saying they think it is a minor factor. With 65% of respondents putting the onus on UK government policies for the crisis, it is clear that the Scottish electorate is putting the blame squarely on the UK Government, either for its failed attempts at making Brexit work, or for the failure of its economic policies in dampening the crisis for households across the country.

An independent Scotland’s economy back in the EU

Independence is the only route to Scotland rejoining the EU and to rebuilding our economy after the damage caused by Brexit Britain- and the people of Scotland agree. 45% of those surveyed think our economy would perform better if Scotland was to rejoin the EU, with 16% thinking it would perform the same. So, 61% of respondents think that Scotland's economy would perform better or the same if we rejoined the EU and were an independent country. The 39% who think it would be worse matches closely the percentage of voters who still support Brexit.   

This result shows there is a clear appetite in Scotland to reconnect with our European partners. Previous polling by Believe in Scotland showed that 97% of those who moved from No in 2014 to Yes did so because of Brexit and that they believe an independent Scotland should rejoin the EU. This is a clear pathway to increase support for independence and the Yes movement must grab the opportunity with both hands. Brexit regret is rife across the UK as the economic fallout from Brexit is coming to light and with Scotland having been torn from the EU against our will, it is only right that the desire of Scots to be back inside the EU is felt more strongly now than ever before. 

So, how do we get there? 

Current Scottish Government policy is that when independence is won an independent Scotland will seek to rejoin the EU from day one. This will put Scotland back into the single largest trading bloc in the world and give us access to a talent pool of 500 million people, filling the labour shortages felt across industries such as healthcare, hospitality and construction. We must convince the electorate that rejoining the EU is essential to growing an independent Scotland’s economy and that access to the single market will mean Scottish exports can flourish. Scotland will once again become a hub for inward investment as Scotland breaks free from Brexit Britain and the downward trending UK economy. 

The message to undecided voters must be this; Britain is broken and its economy is in ruin. We cannot let Brexit-obsessed-Westminster drag Scotland down with it. The only way for Scotland to flourish is by gaining its independence and rejoining the European Union.

FACT: When Scotland rejoins the EU we won't have to use the Euro

Would an independent Scotland have to use the euro? The answer is “No”. Nicola Sturgeon was correct when she told Douglas Ross this today - but that doesn’t prevent Scotland’s Unionist politicians and media doing their best to spread confusion. 

The Times headline today was “Join the euro or your EU dream dies, Sturgeon told”. It is technically correct that Scotland will have to pledge to being open to joining the eurozone. But Scotland will control the timeline on that. It may not decide to join for decades.

Yes, Scotland would have to pledge to being open to join the euro at some point in the future. It could take 15 years, like Bulgaria which is adopting the Euro in 2024, or much longer. Sweden, Denmark, the Czech Republic and Poland have no current plans to switch. 

So, if the question is worded:

“Would an independent Scotland joining the EU as a full member using the process for joining as a new member have to commit to using the Euro at some undefined point in the future?” Then the answer is yes.

But whether or not to join the Euro and the timing of that will be a matter for future governments. It will be a matter for debate after Scotland has: achieved a referendum, voted for independence, established a central bank, a Scottish currency and rejoined the EU. It’s a way down the road. 

Scotland’s currency future will be Scotland’s choice

Last week’s Scottish Government report “Building a Stronger Economy” includes a section discussing comparable European countries’ currency choices. It says:

“Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Finland and the Netherlands share a currency – the euro – while Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland have their own currencies. However, Denmark pegs its currency to the euro (meaning that it shared a fixed exchange rate with the euro) and shares it with Greenland and the Faroe Islands. The decision to peg to the euro is a policy choice: Denmark’s main trading market is the European Union, so pegging provides price stability for trade.

“All of those countries, regardless of currency choice, have higher national incomes per head than the UK.”

The best way to explain the euro position is to quote the European Union itself:

EU advice: Are the Member States obliged to join the euro?

"In principle, all Member States that do not have an opt-out clause (i.e. Denmark) have committed to adopting the euro once they fulfill the necessary conditions. However, it is up to individual countries to calibrate their path towards the euro and no timetable is prescribed."

The Member States that joined the EU in 2004, 2007 and 2013, after the euro was launched, did not meet the conditions for entry to the Euro area at the time of their accession. Therefore, their Treaties of Accession allow them time to make the necessary adjustments.

So it is clear that:

  • To use the euro you have to meet the necessary conditions set by the EU and Scotland would not do so immediately on independence
  • Scotland would be empowered by the EU to decide the timetable to meet the conditions and as quoted, no timetable is prescribed – in other words, we could be on an indefinite path to adoption.
  • Some EU nations were told on joining that they did not yet qualify to use the euro.

Other EU members that are not using the Euro

  • Croatia joined the EU in 2013 – On January 1, 2023, Croatia will become the 20th country to use the euro, ten years after becoming a member. It will join Schengen the same day. 
  • Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007 – Bulgaria’s coalition government plans to switch in 2024, 15 years after becoming a member
  • The Czech Republic joined the EU in 2004 – it has no plans to join the euro
  • Denmark joined the EU in 1973 – the Danish Government has fixed its currency to the euro. It shares its currency with Greenland and the Faroes
  • Hungary joined the EU in 2004 – Its semi-dictator leader Victor Orban has many issues with the EU - but the country is currently exploring joining the euro waiting room (ERM) as a way to stabilise their fluctuating currency. 
  • Poland joined the EU in 2004 – whether or not to join the euro is a subject of lively political debate. The country is unlikely to join any time soon. 
  • Romania joined the EU in 2007 – their target year to join the euro is 2024 - but they won’t be allowed to if they don’t meet the criteria. 
  • Sweden joined the EU in 1995 – Sweden held a referendum in the early 2000s on euro membership, and the country rejected it. Sweden is obliged by treaty to join, as are other newer members but they have just said no. Swedes have a positive view of the EU; but most still don’t want to join the euro.

Conclusion

When an independent Scotland joins the EU as a full member state the EU will agree that it is not possible for Scotland to adopt the euro immediately and will give the Scottish Government full control over the timescales to meet the criteria. 

The Scottish Government would therefore be able to indefinitely postpone joining the euro. However, it is technically possible (however unlikely) a future Scottish Government might decide to join the Euro voluntarily - the point is that such decisions are able to be made by a sovereign independent country. As the report “Building a Stronger Economy” points out, even now, far more of Scotland’s manufactured exports go to the Eurozone than to the UK. 

These issues will no doubt produce political debate in the decades after Scotland has achieved its independence from the failing UK. 

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

Boost for Scottish independence from contest for next PM

Well-known Unionist commentator Alex Massie amusingly told Radio 4 yesterday:

“If you were to say to me that there will be a referendum in say 15 years' time, I would probably, if pushed, expect Scotland to vote for independence,”. 

Some might have been surprised to hear Massie concede that Scottish independence is likely, although they might query the timing (*). Ironically the tipping point where support for independence hits a consistent majority is being brought much closer by the current Conservative leadership contest, and independence support will increase regardless of whether Truss or Sunak gets the keys for number Ten. 

Tipping point approaching for Scottish independence

A poll released yesterday showed that around 20% of voters said that either Sunak or Truss as PM would boost their support for independence. Only 35% of voters said they were firmly opposed to independence and that would be unchanged by the contest. That's no surprise judging by their lacklustre hustings performances in Perth last night.

Candidates vie to undermine the devolution settlement

The candidates both made clear that they plan to continue Boris Johnson’s policy of deliberately undermining the devolution settlement and both tried in vain to hide their profound ignorance of Scotland, its culture, politics and history.  The debate was chaired by STV’s Colin Mackay who said it was:

“a scary job interview…but not as scary as a general election, which is how we used to choose our Prime Ministers”.

Sunak on bypassing the Scottish Government’s spending powers

Mackay asked Sunak if he would “by-pass Holyrood for some spending”. Sunak replied:

“We have already started that and we will do more of it.”

Sunak condemned several times what he called “the civil service policy” of “devolve and forget” when it comes to Scotland. That apparently refers to respecting the devolution settlement and allowing Holyrood to run the policy areas for which it is legally responsible. 

Liz Truss effectively said there is no democratic route for independence for Scotland

Truss said that the 2014 referendum was “a once in a generation” event. Mackay mentioned the seven-year gap mandated for Northern Irish referenda and that Brexit and Covid had changed the background. He asked:

“For many people outside this room, 2014 feels like a generation. Is there a democratic route for Scotland to change its future? Is there a democratic route?”

Truss replied:

“At the time of the referendum, it was agreed by the SNP that it was a once-in-a-generation referendum. I believe in politicians keeping their promises and Nicola Sturgeon should keep her promise.” 

Liz Truss changed her mind on Brexit - why can’t the Scots change their mind on independence?

Mackay asked this question and Truss replied that she had respected the will of the people to leave the EU. She said she had been worried about disruption. But, she said, in a barefaced lie that is contradicted by authorities such as the UK’s Office for National Statistics, and the experience of many exporters and importers in Scotland, that:

“There has been no disruption [from Brexit]”

Truss boasted of trade deals she has done with Australia and New Zealand that threaten Scottish food producers by giving away all protections for Scottish and UK farmers and food producers against lower welfare imports - in a manner reminscent of “the great betrayal’ of 1921.

Sunak sneered at Scottish state education

Rishi Sunak told the audience that education was one of his family’s core values - his parents sent him to an elite private school.  He then proceeded to sneer at Scottish state education. He failed to point out that Scots children from the poorest backgrounds are overwhelmingly more likely to attend University than those born south of the border. 

Truss plans to rip up ECHR - she may not know it is the bedrock of devolution

Liz Truss gave a particularly wooden presentation with odd pauses. She talked of the UK’s economic difficulties, without mentioning the part Brexit plays - until she moved on to the “opportunity” to rip up EU legal protections for human rights and the environment. Liz Truss may not know that the European Convention on Human Rights was devised by a Scottish lawyer and is the bedrock of the devolution settlement, representing what many once regarded as shared British values. 

Truss proclaimed her determination to get rid of ECHR because it might prevent the UK government from deporting asylum seekers to countries like Rwanda. She said she was determined to expand this controversial policy to include more refugees and more third countries. 

Truss displayed weak understanding of the causes of the energy crisis

On energy, Truss promised to get rid of the ‘green levy’ - this supports insulation and investment  in renewables. It is Scotland’s renewable energy providers who supply the cheap power the UK relies on - and they could supply even more of it if the sector had not been starved of adequate investment. Onshore wind is many times cheaper than gas. 

Yet Truss proclaimed “we have to use our gas” to solve the energy crisis. What could she mean by this? Gas extracted from the North Sea is the property of the multinationals who extract it. It is sold to the UK’s privatised national grid at world prices - currently the equivalent of oil being $380 a barrel. Extracting slightly more gas would not lower world gas prices - it would just make more money for energy companies. 

Sunak and Truss may not know that 75% of voters supported devolution in a referendum

Neither Sunak or Truss appear to know that there was a referendum in Scotland 25 years ago next month in which 75% of voters supported devolution. They also do not seem to know that, while in English law and tradition, sovereignty rests with the Westminster Parliament, in Scottish law it lies with the people, in a tradition established in 1320 with the Declaration of Arbroath. 

Scottish Unionists despair of this desperate duo

On that same BBC lunchtime bulletin yesterday, presenter Jonny Dymond commented in response to a clip of some of the pair’s blunders that:

“There must be some Scottish Tories who hear those comments from Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss and just want to jump off a cliff, aren’t  there?”

 Footnote

*Listen to Massie’s comment here - 29 minutes in, closing a report from the BBC Scotland editor James Cook. However, some would argue he is simply running the Tory trope of ‘Yes, you can have independence but not yet’. Pushing the referendum down the road is a desperate tactic - they hope the Yes movement will give up and go away, because they fear they would lose one now.

Media Watch - Scotland’s mainstream media ignores the downside of dodgy trade deals

July 27, 2022

“I have negotiated dozens of trade deals”, candidate for PM Liz Truss said in a debate on BBC TV this week. 

Since Brexit, the UK has rolled over existing EU deals covering 63 countries. It is not true to say that Truss negotiated these - they were already in place,  negotiated by the EU, and have simply been allowed to continue after Brexit. So far, Truss has negotiated a handful of trade deals. These are potentially very bad for Scotland - but that is not being reported fairly. 

The UK government is offering open access to Scottish markets for intensive, low-welfare farmers, echoing ‘The Great Betrayal’" of the 1920s, which decimated Scottish agriculture. They have signed these deals on Scotland's behalf without consent or consultation with Scotland's elected representatives. 

Promises over “safeguards” for Scottish farmers have been broken - with no scrutiny

Instead, over the last year, BBC Scotland and other Unionist media outlets have given space to vague promises that there will be safeguards for Scottish producers.  But these safeguards have not materialised and that is being brushed under the carpet without scrutiny. 

Truss trade deals - four not dozens

Liz Truss’ government has so far negotiated just four new trade deals, covering six countries. These are with Japan, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, Australia and New Zealand. But there are fears these are the gateway to the UK Government signing more destructive and desperate deals. 

Deals with New Zealand and Australia threaten Scottish food producers

Trade deals with New Zealand and Australia will see quotas for tariff-free lamb and other produce increased sharply over the next 15 years before it becomes a tariff-free, quota-free free for all. Because Australia and New Zealand don't work to the same standards on climate, environment and welfare and because they farm more intensively that allows them to potentially undercut Scottish farmers. While the idea of cheap imports may seem attractive in the short term, in the long term it threatens to damage the Scottish food-producing sector, food security and the wider economy. 

There was anger in the House of Commons last week when the UK Government forbade Parliament from discussing the terms of the Australian trade deal before it is ratified -  despite an earlier promise by Liz Truss that it would face Parliamentary scrutiny. 

Scottish MP Drew Hendry said the Government’s own research showed that Australia’s lower standards on deforestation, animal welfare and climate lets it produce cheaper food that will undercut Scottish produce. 

The Scottish Farmer said the deal “offers nothing but pain” for Scotland’s farmers and crofters. Scottish NFU president Martin Kennedy said: “Our fears that the process adopted by the UK Government in agreeing the Australia deal would set a dangerous precedent going forward have been realised…

“This latest deal offers virtually nothing to Scottish farmers and crofters in return but risks undermining our valuable lamb, beef, dairy and horticultural sectors by granting access to large volumes of imported goods. As with the Australian deal, a cap on tariff-free imports is merely a slow journey to allow NZ, a major exporter of food and drink, unfettered access to food and drink UK markets."

But Scottish food producers’ woes are not being reported by the mainstream UK media. 

A clip of New Zealand TV contrasted the reaction of “jubilant Kiwi farmers” with the despair of those facing unfair competition from producers meeting lower environmental and welfare standards has been widely shared on social media. 

People find it hard to believe that the NZ media is offering more coverage of the downside of the deal than the UK. It said: “The deal will see Kiwi meat imported without tariffs, and UK farmers say they get nothing in return. They fear it will change their businesses dramatically.’ UK farmers told the news show that they feel as if they are the “sacrificial lambs” of the deal. 

Sustainable business advisor Brendan May commented: “New Zealand television is completely mystified by the amazing Brexit trade deal Liz Truss keeps boasting about. They can’t understand why she would want to make British farmers poorer and theirs richer. Even the winning side can’t fathom it.”

The deals echo ‘the great betrayal” of the 1920s which decimated Scottish agriculture

Those with a knowledge of Scottish history will remember “the great betrayal” of 1921 when the UK Government abandoned support for agriculture and fishing - believing it could be replaced by cheap imports from the Empire. In the following decade, food production collapsed and Scotland lost 8% of its population (compared to 5% in England) due to emigration by desperate people, many of whom simply abandoned their crofts and farms.

Scottish agriculture is already a big loser from Brexit -  it is gradually losing EU funding from the Common Agricultural Policy, which moves some of the cost of food production from the consumer to the tax payer. The UK’s replacement scheme will be far less generous. The loss of easy access to EU markets, and the end of free movement of labour is also damaging Scotland’s food producers. 

The Scottish Government has criticised the UK Government’s level of engagement with the devolved governments. There has been no consultation on the negotiation process, nor on the crucial detail about tariffs and goods market access on any of the deals which the UK government has negotiated.

Unlike Quebec, which is able to scrutinise and ratify Canada’s international trade deals, Scotland has no voice. The Internal Markets Act means the UK government can make any deal it likes in Scotland’s name, without consultation or consent. 

Scotland is being let down by the media which is failing to report both sides of the story

The media is supposed to serve the people - but Scotland’s Unionist media is failing to report on the people who are being harmed by these trade deals, to scrutinise politicians’ promises, or to consider the potential for long-term harm to Scotland's interests. 

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. 

Conclusion

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 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.