To properly answer this question, there are more than a few questions to be considered. First, lets look at three possible outcomes for Scotland post-Brexit.
1. We could vote to be nominally ‘independent’ then re-join an uncertain EU.
Despite flying in the face of their own stated positions in the first indy referendum, this is the SNP’s current angle. Like many SNP policies, it’s superficially attractive. With Scotland re-joining/remaining in the EU, a number of English businesses could relocate to Scotland in order to remain in the EU – we could see a raft of London financial services jobs moving north to avoid passport issues that could come about from leaving EU. New jobs mean new people and an increasing population and tax base.
On the negative side, rejoining the EU puts us back in the straightjacket of being no more than a highly regulated federal region (rather than a sovereign nation.) This would limit our flexibility and ability to be a free trading nation. The long term view, of us essentially competing with a low regulation, low tax rest of UK , being hobbled by ever increasing EU regulation and being forced into the Euro despite our largest trading partner using a different currency (England) cannot end positively. If our economy does well, we end up subsidising endemic basket cases in other parts of Europe. If we do badly, we bleed jobs and population to other parts of UK.
The socialist, bail out your failing comrades culture is endemic in EU and is not about to change any time soon – headlines like this have been going on for years and aren’t about to end, despite the IMF finally admitting that it’s all wrong.
It seems that the EU is determined to tighten the maternal embrace that will strangle its children. Salmond’s wise saying that ‘’The people who live in Scotland are best placed to make the decisions that affect Scotland’’ is the exact opposite of what this ‘indy’ would achieve.
2. Perhaps then we can remain in the UK and remain outside the EU?
So, you don’t think a high regulation, high tax, non-sovereign Scotland where we don’t make our own laws, or control our own interest rates or currency (or anything, really) is a good plan?
One other option is to simply go with the flow, remain in the UK, and outside the EU. This plan also has a lot of positives. Here, we’re sealing our historic ties with our closest market (England) and, unlike with EU, have a stronger voice in the world, retaining our permanent seat on the UN security council, and can rebuild our connections with the English speaking greater world.
Trade deals can be made to benefit us directly, under the umbrella of a large trading partner (UK), rather than EU-wide. We can retain Sterling, the currency of our largest trading partner (England) and can control our own borders, laws (the bedrock of a democracy, surely), and perhaps even our own fishing grounds.
There is, of course, the possibility that the anti-democracy remain campaigners – the Bob Geldof’s of this world, are able to derail the Brexit process and keep us joined to the EU, unable to control our own destiny, but assuming this doesn’t happen, we’re most likely to join the EEA (European Economic Area) to begin with. The win-win is to agree free trade with EU while retaining control of our borders. This can happen, but it might be a tricky negotiation. The EU needs free trade with us – no matter what long bankrupt regions like France and Spain may say – so the part about controlling our own borders would, with the right negotiation, be available if we play hardball.
The trick to being a successful trading nation is to be promiscuous. The more people in the world we trade with freely, the better, and to have the whole world to trade with freely is better than being tied in to a sinking ship with no control of our own trade policy. Tariffs and quotas NEVER create wealth, so time will only tell if the Europeans push the stupid button on such a subject. The UK however, isn’t alone in national debate here – There are strong anti-globalisation protests in France, and across Europe. This, to me at least means, the EU is too fickle to trust with our country and the Brexit vote was the right vote at the right time.
However, a 3rd choice could come out of this same result:
3. We could become independent and remain outside the EU.
If the above reasons for 2. are sound, then the intellectual end game here would be for Scotland to be a free Sovereign nation in its own right, surely. While we’d lose our seat at the table of the UN, it would be balanced by our ability to create policy designed purely by Scots, for Scotland, and in Scotland’s interests. This hasn’t been done for hundreds of years, and the possibilities are endless.
While we’d lose the short term boon of pro-EU businesses relocating to Scotland – would that be so bad? If a business is relocating because of subsidies and wants higher regulation, it’s not a competitive business and so the long-term benefit of parasitical outfits could be limited.
Being truly independent, we could retain all the positive aspects of remaining outside the EU – We’d keep the pound sterling, we can get rid of unnecessary regulation (which hits small businesses, and stifles entrepreneurial activity, but helps big businesses keep the little guy down, which was exactly why big corporations backed, and funded Remain). We can retain our sovereignty, make our own laws, and focus our policy on growing our own country rather than have London-centric worldview forced upon us.
And, of course, the best thing about being free and able to run our own affairs: we can watch Bob Geldof and his Remainer hipsters wail, gnash their teeth, pretend to be experts on the subject, and post selfies on social media about how terrible it’ll be.
Scots have shown they are capable. Hong Kong was built by Scots and flourished under what should be our most famous free market, free trade-oriented civil servant, James Coperthwaite.
But lets be realistic, it wont be easy. The current establishment, including the SNP is dead against real independence – it upsets vested interests, and puts power in the hands of the people of Scotland. We’ll have a long and bloody fight on our hands to finally win our freedom.