Risking making the greatest understatement of the decade, it’s fair to say that we are in a mess. Given that both the government and the opposition are committed to leaving the EU, and given that right-wing mobs are now gathering around Westminster with placards depicting executions and advocating political violence – a sure indication we have reached a pre-revolutionary phase of this unfolding shambles, there will be no re-run of the Brexit referendum and there will be no so-called People’s Vote. Those ships have sailed. Whether we like it or not, we are now heading into the abyss.
When faced with the powerful self-destructive drive of England, especially when we are so completely powerless to help, we are forced to adopt the calm reasoning of Fr. Anthony De Mello: “Maybe they should suffer a little more. Maybe they ought to touch rock bottom…” Of course, what some need is to suffer less, and those we must help, but there are others – like the alcoholic and the drug addict – who need to hit rock bottom first, who need to suffer a little more.
This deal will never pass through the Commons, meaning that the UK is – barring a miracle – headed for the hardest of all possible Brexits. Farage and Boris Johnson’s dreams have come true, and now the knives are out for the fall guy – Mrs May. Just now, as I write, the news is breaking that the Palace is in talks with the Cabinet Office. Reports from The Times are saying that the Conservative 1922 Committee has received its 48 letters, which means May’s tenure as PM and leader of the Tory party is about to be put to the vote.
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.