Wednesday, 4 July 2018

The £ of flesh

There is an interesting scenario that Scottish nationalists haven’t thought about. Let’s imagine sometime in the future there is a referendum on Scottish independence and the Leave side wins. There would then be negotiations between the United Kingdom and the representatives of the soon to be independent Scotland. The negotiations would be about how Scotland was going to leave the UK. What if the UK decided to negotiate in exactly the same way as the EU has been doing in the past two years since Leave won the vote in 2016?

At present Scotland is part of the UK Single Market and we don’t charge tariffs between the various parts of the UK since we are all part of the same sovereign nation state called the United Kingdom. But Scotland would cease to be part of the UK and so there would need to be a trade agreement. The case would be analogous to the one the UK finds itself in relation to the EU at present.

The Scottish negotiators would, no doubt, want free trade to continue between Scotland and the UK. What if the UK said you will have to pay a leaving fee? As well as paying your share of the UK’s national debt, we intend to charge you a one off fee, let’s call it £10 Billion, plus an annual subscription off say £2 Billion so that you can have continued access to the UK’s Single Market. Failure to agree to this price would mean that the UK wouldn’t even begin negotiations.

Failure to pay the fee and the subscription would mean that Scotland would have to rely on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms. This would mean that the UK would charge tariffs at the border between England and Scotland.

Moreover if you fail to pay your debts, fail to pay the fee and fail to pay your subscription we will charge a toll for every Scottish vehicle driving through England and we will make it as difficult as possible for Scottish planes to land in the UK.

Furthermore if you don’t pay up we won’t help you in any way whatsoever in setting up your new independent Scotland. You won’t be able to use the Inland Revenue to raise revenue in Scotland, nor will we help with health, welfare or security. Our embassies will be closed to you and in fact we won’t even throw you a life belt if we see you sinking, not unless you first pay the ransom. Let's call it the £ of flesh.

Now in order to continue to trade freely with the UK it won’t be enough for you merely to pay us. The UK also will demand that Scottish law is subordinate to UK law. Although you will have no representation at Westminster, you must apply our rules with regard to trading standards, agriculture, fisheries food and anything else we care to regulate. You must allow our ships to fish in your waters.

You must continue to give our citizens the same rights as they have at present to live and work in Scotland, but we’re not sure yet if we want to reciprocate. If you are very good we might do that, we’ll let you know later.

We intend to do everything possible to make Scottish independence a failure. We are going to make an example of you so as to discourage the Welsh from having any similar ideas. We think your voters were stupid to have dared to vote to leave and we intend to show them the error of their ways.

Perhaps in a few years you will crawl back on your knees begging for mercy. Please let us back, please.

Imagine after two years of such negotiations the Scottish leader, said yes we give in to all of your demands. We submit. All we care about is trade. We will pay the £10 Billion and accept whatever rules you tell us to follow.

How would people in Scotland react to this finding that instead of independence they were still ruled from Westminster but without any representation? My guess is there would be riots and revolution. I would join them.

We voted to Leave the EU. We didn’t vote to be half in and half out. There are benefits to being in the EU and there are benefits in leaving, but there are no benefits at all failing to do what the British public told you to do.

In order to leave the EU properly we are going to have to seriously promise the EU that we intend to leave without a deal. Our self-respect as a front rank power and the fifth largest economy in the world demands this. We should do this even if there are short term costs. There are always short terms costs to doing the right thing. It would be worth it. We must do whatever it takes. It would be worth a recession, it would be worth a dip in trade. Nothing that would happen would be anything like the problems we faced in 1914 or 1939. This is a battle that is worth fighting and winning. The alternative is muddle, fudge and mediocrity.


  1. You forget that it would not be as one sided as you suggest. For one the UK surface fleet building capability and the submarine bases would need to relocate at vast cost. The SNP hardliners would demand removal of all WOMD as part of the negotiations which would cost the UK a great deal of money. I think the same mess that is occurring now with Brexit would appear here.

    1. Effie's analogy would hold good if and only if ('iff', as we were taught in PPE) the following conditions obtained:
      that the UK be an international agreement, as opposed to a state;
      that the Scottish negotiators and their various factions of supporters be constantly bickering amongst themselves as to their precise aims;
      that the rUK negotiators be steadily loosing hope of finding out what the Scottish aims were;
      that many of the keenest Scexit campaigners be making elaborate arrangements to secure their financial interests within the rUK.

      And if not, not.

    2. There are ample shipyards in Englnd and the docks at Faslaine are floating thus they can, and do, move.

  2. UK could treat Faslane like Akrotiri and Dhekelia in Cyprus, Guantanamo bay in Cuba, or day I say Sevastopol in Crimea. Not sure Scotland could do anything to prevent this. But anyway this is all rather beside the point. The article isn't really about Scottish independence.

    1. The UK would just move the docks as they float, the warheads are made in England anyway and there is only enough of them to fit each of the four submarines any event so the weapons could simply be left in their silos.

    2. We're talking defence and specifically nuclear subs and missiles. It's not cars,steel, wheat and loaves.

      There would I would assume be a nice diplomatic resolution to Faslane and WMD's. I expect people would in that situation 'screw the nut' . Scotland would just sink 10 old freighters in Rhu and the base is closed....Any accident would still be in Scotland. So i think everyone would understand the stakes and act accordingly.

      The issue Mr Anonymous is missing is deep water access and missile maintenance and storage which take place thousands of feet under a mountain above Finnart. Its more complex than docking and charging the batteries....

      I'm not sure what the balance of trade is between the UK and Scotland and what the main components of the trade are. If its power and water then its less simplistic than is being made out.

      I think we already saw what the main discussion points would be. National debt appropriation is one(this could be seen as the exit dowry).

      The difference between Brexit and independence is that there are just 2 states discussing, so its simpler one would assume. I think both would want it done without essential trade interruption.

      It could still be a minefield.

    3. Politically unacceptable globally one would assume. Given what is stored there. Non proliferation treaty might even not legally allow it. Whole area is potentially complex, especially for the numbskulls in Westminster

  3. The approach that Effie advocates to the Brexit negotiations amounts to adding the following clause to every international instrument to which the (r)UK subscribes:

    'High Contracting Parties are hereby notified that Her Majesty's Government does not, however, undertake to fulfil its obligations in the manner prescribed herein, or, indeed, at all.'

  4. Another analogy might be the Treaty Ports in Ireland.

  5. The section of this I find difficult to agree with is paying share of the UK’s national debt. if Scotland owes UK debt, Scotland also owns UK assets, the value of which should far outweigh the debt. As an example, in recent years how much has Scotland contributed to HS2 or the repair of Westminster?