Best of 3 First Minister? Do not be fooled - Nicola Sturgeon's fresh bid for an independent Scotland doesn't just set a dangerous precedent for democracy, but it demonstrates divisive political opportunism at a time when the UK needs unity more than ever. Once again the precious union of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Island finds itself under threat, and we mustn’t just expose the narrow motives of those who seek to tear us apart, but we must also make the positive and confident case to save our union.
Ever since Scots decisively rejected independence in September 2014, being hailed as "once in a generation, once in a lifetime opportunity" (by Sturgeon herself), the SNP have proved that their constitutional obsession will never cease, and that they will ideologically seek independence at any cost. Whilst they have desperately tried to label Brexit as the reason behind the new push towards independence, it is beyond doubt that even if the UK had voted to remain within the EU, the SNP still would've demanded a second referendum, or a third, or a fourth - until they get the result they want. So, far from putting the Scottish national interest first, Nicola Sturgeon has once again shown that her own narrow ambitions will always come before Scotland; a country that I believe simply wishes to bury the divisions of the past and move forward.
Whilst it was inevitable that the SNP were always going to demand another referendum, the timing in this instance is not just opportunistic, but if anything, it will breed and foster further division and hatred not just across Scotland, but the whole of the UK too. After 2 referendums and a general election in the space of just 3 years, the country now needs time to heal and come back together, especially in the light of the truly historic circumstances in which we find ourselves. Once again, this demonstrates that Nicola Sturgeon quite frankly doesn’t care about the destructive impact that her constitutional obsession will have. She is pitting one against the other - literally polarising the nation, which fails to understand a basic principle - politics is not a game.
Political manoeuvring aside, the SNP’s case for independence must be assessed. Firstly, there’s the obvious obstacle of EU membership. Sturgeon’s hopes for a referendum between Autumn 2018 and Spring 2019 is based on the premise that should Scotland vote for independence, this would allow them to retain their membership of the EU just before the UK leaves. However, this is quite simply a fabrication and manipulation of what is known to be true. A spokesman for the European Commission said earlier this week that Scotland would not be granted automatic access to the EU if it split from the rest of the UK. He alluded to the Barroso doctrine (referencing former commission president Jose Mauel Barroso), who set out the legal view that if one part of an EU country became an independent state it would have to apply for EU membership. This entails joining the euro, having interests rates and other monetary policy dictated by the European Central Bank, making hefty budget contributions, surrendering sovereignty, and joining the Schengen free travel area. It appears as though Nicola Sturgeon seems reluctant to admit this to the Scottish people, perhaps because her case for independence is based on deception and lies. Therefore, the SNP aren’t offering Scotland independence, they’re offering them independence under the jurisdiction and rule of Brussels.
Not only does Scotland face the prospect of being cut off from the UK and the EU, it faces a future outside of NATO too. NATO's secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said this week that an independent Scotland would "not automatically" become a member of the military alliance, stating that it would have to gain the approval of all 28 allies before it could re-join as a new country. In this case, it faces several barriers to accession. Just as Scotland faces the prospect of having its entry to the EU challenged by Spain (which is facing difficulty at home with increasing calls for independence in Catalonia), the SNP’s opposition to nuclear weapons may prove fatal in any bid to rejoin NATO. The defence bloc considers nuclear weapons a "core component" of its defence, meaning that Scotland would find itself in a extremely difficult position.
In light of this, it becomes clear that Scottish independence according to the SNP entails a future of isolation and irrelevance; cut off from the UK, the EU and Nato. But as the UK looks to a global future involving not only expanding our ties beyond the EU, but forging bold new trade deals, strengthening relationships with old friends and making new allies in the world too, the argument for Scotland to retain its position in the union has never been stronger. We are on a path to greater prosperity and strength, and Scotland should very much remain at the heart of this. Brexit doesn’t just us the chance to make ambitious new trading arrangements with the potential of bringing greater investment and freer exports, but it also allows us the opportunity to redistribute power and take back control. Truthfully, the sovereignty and power that is repatriated to Westminster from Brussels shouldn’t just stop there, but it should go to Holyrood, Cardiff and Belfast, and even to the regions of the UK too. The SNP on the other have been continuously criticised for centralising power and control in Holyrood. Therefore, remaining part of the global visionary that is the UK seems to be Scotland’s best opportunity to further prosper and thrive.
Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP think they have our union on the ropes - they are playing at politics as though it were a game. If we have the courage to not only show that their case for independence is intrinsically flawed, but proudly fight for the positive future our union can have, we will once again win.
Lead photo provided by author.
Our Union is Under Threat - We Must Defend it | Alfie Dewdney Reviewed by Student Voices on 21:11 Rating: