Getting the proposal through the Commons will require 325 votes. Before this crisis the government had, together with its confidence and supply purchase, a majority of one – with 326 seats. It no longer has this. With a conservative estimate of losses, the government’s vote is reduced to about 276; that’s 50 votes shy of the majority it needs. So, can this vote be passed? Of course, but nothing is guaranteed. We can exclude from the equation Sinn Féin’s 7 seats. The Irish republicans refuse to take their seats in the British parliament. This brings May’s shortfall to somewhere closer to 40-45 votes.
Special status for Northern Ireland, which rejected Brexit, will be a slap in the face for Scotland – which also rejected Brexit. As the six counties do not have significant oil and gas resources and Scotland does, no such arrangement will be considered for the Scots. This cannot play out well for British unity. The majority of Scotland – including its unionist base – rejected Brexit, Holyrood has refused legislative consent to any deal that does not consider the interests of the Scottish voters, and those voters themselves know what’s best for them.
Playing this model is lose-lose for the independence cause. Whichever route we take, be that the “we don’t need permission” option or the queen exchange model à la Keatings, the outcome will be the same – a rapid escalation from a flat refusal to the use of violence. Therefore, it is us and not the British government who are clean out of options – forcing us then to take the path of least resistance. Both will be met with resistance, there is no doubt of that, but one offers significantly less than the other. Keatings makes a good point, however...
How does a community function when it is ghettoised and bricked off? It doesn’t. The limited supply of essentials means that prices will rise, black markets will sprout out of the woodwork, and the normal operation of society rapidly deteriorates. The British government has already drawn up plans for emergency policing and the use of the armed forces to distribute food. The army doesn’t come on to the street to manage soup kitchens and hand out tins of Spam. The army hits the street to maintain or re-establish order, and this is exactly why the army will be manning the breadlines.
The good news for those of us campaigning for independence is that it now looks increasingly unlikely Theresa May and the London government will back out of the no-deal scenario. Not to mention the amount of face that will be lost by such a display of weakness and instability, those in power in England and many powerful people behind the scenes stand to lose immense sums of money if Britain now fails to leave the European Union as it plans.
Independence and the People’s Vote campaign, while both aligned against the present London government, are also in profound political opposition. Independentistas looking for a People’s Vote in order to mitigate a Brexit deal made by the British government are lending support to the union by ignoring the fact that Scotland has already rejected Brexit. The people of Scotland went to the polls on the day of the EU referendum and voted to remain in the European Union.
When the Advocate General says Westminster is sovereign and the Scottish parliament is not he is presuming a definition of sovereignty which is fundamentally foreign to the Scottish national constitution. More than this, he is assuming a unicity – a singular notion of sovereignty and power in a singular British state – that has never before been made explicit. He is giving England’s idea of sovereignty priority over that of Scotland. This engenders a worrying logical problem; unicity renders the heretofore existing duality of legal understandings impossible.
Details of an unpublished report leaked to the press reveal that Theresa May’s government is at present modelling three Brexit scenarios; “mild, severe and Armageddon” – yes, you read that right, “Armageddon.” In the event of a no-deal exit from the European Union – now the most likely outcome of the Article 50 negotiations – the “mild” scenario is a non-starter. Without a trade deal or a contingency plan – which, as yet, does not exist – the UK will be faced with at least a few weeks in which half the basic food and medical demands of the country cannot be met.