Scotland the Brave … State of the EU


Alex Salmond
Image by Saul Gordillo via Flickr

Alex Salmond – Putting Scotland on the EU Map

The Scottish Parliament is to vote this evening on a motion calling for a

parliament with the powers and responsibilities of independence to grow the economy.

Since the SNP has an overall majority in that Parliament, it will pass.

Alex Salmond’s opponents are accusing him of trying to manipulate the result of the referendum that is to be held over the next couple of years on Scottish independence. That argument is unfair and also of dubious legality.

The Telegraph claims:

the vote has no binding effect – constitutional affairs are reserved to Westminster

I am not quite so sure. The Act of Union was passed in 1707 by the Scottish Parliament and the English Parliament. That Act united both Parliaments to create the Parliament of the United Kingdom. That is the basis of saying that only the UK Parliament can pass a law granting Scottish independence.

However, we now have a devolved Scottish Parliament. Legally speaking, that “parliament” is not strictly a parliament, since it does not have sovereign authority over Scotland. That authority remains with the UK Parliament. But morally you might claim that this Parliament is the successor of that original Scottish Parliament – it has certainly been presented as a proper parliament, representing the Scottich people. Since no parliament can bind its successor, you might argue that the new Scottish Parliament, since it represents the Scottish people, has the right to overturn the Act of Union.

Anyway, all this is legal debate that is beyond my legal understanding since I am not a lawyer.

More important, is that the SNP want Scottish independence “within Europe”. In other words, their vision is of Scotland becoming an independent member of the EU in its own right. By accepting various EU treaties, the United Kingdom has accepted the authority of the EU. (Critically, of course, the UK Parliament has not abolished itself or merged itself into a European Parliament, so it still has the right to repeal British membership of the EU.)

However, until the UK Parliament takes Britain out of the EU, we are in it and ruled by Brussels on most matters. After “independence”, Scotland would be too.

This blog is heartily in favour of Britain leaving the EU. But with us in the EU, at least we are a large country in the EU, and do have some influence and voting strength (albeit still in a minority). We are also big enough to have a future outside the EU idf we choose to leave – or at least arguably so, though Europhiles would not agree.

An “independent” Scotland would be a small EU member.

The Scottish population is around 5 million, about half that of Portugal or Greece, or about the same as Finland. Scotland would end up being treated as a small and insignificant State in the Union, ignored in EU decision making and treated as an irrelevance.

If the Scottish think the London government is remote and uninterested in Scotland, they should try Brussels.

Ironically, Alex Salmond might end up forcing Scotland permanently into the United States of Europe, and watching Merry England waltzing out to freedom. He wants to unhitch Scotland from the UK and hitch it directly to the EU instead. Good luck with that one, Mr Salmond.

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