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.
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.
An impending checkmate has brought May to her senses, but in doing so she has had to erase all her lines in the sand – up to and including her position on the free movement of people. As the negotiations are ongoing, when May takes this compromise to Europe it is likely Barnier will up the ante by demanding this third pillar – effectively compelling the British to take the only remaining offer on the table; a Brexit that doesn’t mean Brexit, and that would be the end game for her.
When we take all the present and voting members from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland together – a total of 110 – we see that they make up but a fraction over 17 per cent of the entire chamber. In the course of any debate it requires only 322 English MPs – that just over 60 per cent of England’s members – to defeat the combined will of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. When the will of Scotland – making up a mere 9 per cent of the Commons – is at odds with 6 out of 10 English voters, as it frequently is, Scotland is subjected to the will of England.
Understandably, many are frightened by the word and the language of revolution; seeing it only as a cataclysmic orgy of violence. This is the false image our unionist friends in the media will seek to exploit, but the truth is we have lived through more peaceful revolutions than we can count. Few regret the successes of the sexual revolution. That I am publishing this online to be shared over social media is a consequence of the communications and the internet revolutions.
Brexit and Westminster’s predictable arrogance have brought us here – to the end of our tether. This is the last chance the British government has to listen to us and to respect our sovereign democratic will. This is the limit of the chain holding us to the kennels of Britain, and that chain is just about to snap. When those bonds break London will be faced with a creature it has not seen since Bannockburn, a Scotland that will not be brought back to heel no matter the cost.
If this is what counts for democracy in London, and if this is how Scotland is to be treated – as a subject to the will of England, then “taking back control” refers to Holyrood as much as it does to Brussels. Without any real prospect of a reasonable trade agreement with the EU after Brexit, and friends abroad as reliable as Trump’s “America First,” London’s economic future is completely dependent on its access to our resources. Britain’s departure from the EU is therefore inextricably linked to its war against the Scottish government and the independence movement.
Even a straight No from the Scottish parliament will be taken as consent by London, allowing the Westminster government to take back all of the powers regardless of the positions of the devolved national governments. Not only will Scotland be taken from the EU against its will, the very will of Scotland will be ignored by the British government in whatever it – and it alone – decides in relation to Brexit. This is no mere democratic deficit. This is the imposition of London’s will on Scotland. This is a power grab, and we have been told there is nothing we can do about it.