Tuesday 29 December 2020

No Deal Nicola


Britain has already left the EU. We did so last January. The only question is whether we leave with a deal or without a deal. Last week Nicola Sturgeon pleaded with the Government to extend the transition period because of the latest mutation of Covid, but there is no need to extend it because we have a deal. Is she happy? No. Her party is going to vote against the deal.

In 2016 Sturgeon campaigned for Britain to remain in the EU, which would have meant that the current arrangement with fishing would continue. Instead we have a deal which will mean that next year British fishing boats will be able to catch 15 percent more fish. Over the next 5 years the catch will increase still further until it has increased by 25% from now. At that point Britain will be able to negotiate with the EU again. We could decide that British waters are only for British fishing boats, but that might have the consequence of the British fishing fleet having to pay tariffs to sell their catch to the EU. It will be up to a future Government to decide.

The British fishing fleet is going to get £100 million from the Government to take advantage of being able to catch more fish. Is Sturgeon happy? No, she is complaining that Scottish fishing boats won’t have exclusive rights to the fish in the North Sea. But they would not have had exclusive access if Britain had remained in the EU. They would not have had an increase at all. If the SNP had their wish and Scotland became independent, Sturgeon would intend that Scotland would once more be part of the EU. The result would be that we would go back to the Common Fisheries Policy. The increases in the catch would go back to Brussels and Scottish fishermen would catch less. 

The UK is going to pay £100 million a year so that students can study all over the world. This will be called the Turing Scheme after the computer pioneer Alan Turing who did so much to help Britain win the war by decoding the German Enigma code. Is Sturgeon happy? No, she complains that Britain will cease to take part in the EU’s Erasmus Scheme and that this is cultural vandalism. But British students will still be able to study abroad and because the Turing Scheme will be worldwide, they will not merely be able to study in Europe, but elsewhere.

Does Sturgeon object for the same reason that she objected to the Nightingale hospital in Glasgow renaming it after an obscure Scottish nurse. Is the problem with the Turing scheme that Turing was English, gay or that he helped us win the war or is it merely that he wasn’t Scottish and that the scheme should be called in Scotland the William Wallace/Robert the Bruce scheme?

Sturgeon has spent the years since 2016 complaining that Britain might have a No Deal Brexit. She has continually emphasised what a disaster this would be for Scotland. The logic of her wishing to extent the transition period was precisely to avoid No Deal, but as soon as we get a deal, she objects to that. You can’t hardly win.

Sturgeon wrote

Tory/Labour view is that all Scotland can aspire to is a ‘choice’ between a terrible deal we didn’t vote for and ‘no deal’ we didn’t vote for, and  even then our view only counts if it accords with Westminster’s. No thanks. Time to build a future based on what Scotland votes for.

But this is to suppose that Scottish MPs never have any say on what goes on in Westminster. In the previous Parliament when Theresa May was trying to get her version of Brexit through Parliament, the SNP voted against. If they had voted for the much softer Brexit Theresa May was proposing that is the deal we would have ended up with. If Sturgeon’s goal was a softer Brexit with more alignment with the EU, she could have achieved it. But no, she was determined to ignore the 2016 referendum result in the hope that Brexit would be cancelled.

Unfortunately for her if we can ignore the EU referendum result, we could logically and legally ignore an independence referendum result, which rather stuffs her strategy. If one can be merely advisory, so can the other.

We ended up with the present deal precisely because Remainers like Sturgeon refused to back Theresa May. So, if she thinks the present deal is terrible it is precisely her fault. But how is free trade with the EU and potentially the rest of the world terrible? None of us are going to even notice leaving the EU, yet we still have Remainer prophet of doom Sturgeon telling us the sky will fall in. Yet she doesn’t even address the difficulty of Scotland leaving the UK without a deal.

Sturgeon’s complaint of course is that Scotland did not vote for Brexit. But the exact same argument could be used if Scotland became independent. A part of Scotland that did not wish to rejoin the EU, would have to accept the will of the majority. But just as a part of Scotland cannot expect to veto Government policy so too a part of the United Kingdom cannot expect to veto the result of a referendum. This isn’t democracy. It’s my side must win no matter what, which is the argument of despots.

It is simply impossible to build a future on what Scotland votes for, because there are different opinions in different parts of Scotland. They cannot all get what they want. Well the same goes for the UK. Where’s the grievance?

Scottish MPs and voters have exactly the same share of democracy in the UK as everyone else. Sometimes you vote and get what you want, sometimes you don’t. This is called democracy. To suppose that Scotland must always get what it votes for is to suppose that if South Carolina voted for Trump it has a legitimate complaint because it got Biden. But this is the slaveowners argument from 1860. If it is legitimate for Scotland to secede because it voted Remain, then it is legitimate for South Carolina or indeed anywhere including parts of Scotland. The nationalist argument is mere grievance about losing in a democracy. It begs the question about the legitimate locus of democracy and becomes self-refuting because it cannot apply the logic of the argument to itself that it applies to the whole from which it is seceding. It leads either to hypocrisy or fragmentation.

When you vote for something in Parliament you must logically hope that what you vote for wins. We can predict that the EU Withdrawal Agreement will get through Parliament, but we don’t know for sure. Sufficient Labour and Conservative MPs may rebel. Sturgeon logically must hope they do. But what would be the result if the Withdrawal Agreement was voted down? We would leave the EU on January the first with a No Deal Brexit. It is this that Sturgeon wants, otherwise she logically would not be voting for it.

You cannot win with Scottish Nationalists. It doesn’t matter what you do they will be negative, and they will complain. No Deal Nicola is a name that should stick. She is a modern Ian Paisley. Whatever you ask her she replies Scotland says No.