Today there are just 43 days left until the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, and most likely without a deal. Quite frankly, it has become too tiring, too mentally exhausting to repeat again the catalogue of woes such a no-deal Brexit will bring. But many people will be forced to leave their homes and their communities, families will be divided, food and medicines will be rationed. These are simply the facts of a no-deal scenario, and still there is no proper organised resistance in the United Kingdom to what the British government is about to do.
Time is fast running out. On 29 March, eighty-five days from today, these conditions will be realised when the United Kingdom leaves the EU – and most likely without a deal. If we are to guarantee independence in our lifetimes, then the time to act is now. Nothing, of course, is impossible, but the likelihood of yet another opportunity like this presenting itself within the next fifty years is slim to none. We have a threefold mandate under the present conditions to call another independence referendum, and time on this is even running out.
The vision of independence is one of a through road on which power is brought back to Scotland, enabling us to tackle the problems neither Westminster nor Scotland’s unionists have any interest in addressing. The bottom line is that we can do nothing to better Scotland without first returning state power to the country. We may be able to see the problems we face. We might even see the causes of these problems. But there is precious little we can do to change things without first winning independence and in so doing taking the power we need to effect the change we want.
May’s result tonight was more than a stay of execution for herself. This was a stay of execution for the British union state. Brexit, as it works itself out, has a number of grimly inevitable conclusions. It will leave the United Kingdom poorer and in a long-term downward economic decline; a weight that will be disproportionately carried by the poorest. Social tensions will be stretched to breaking point, with a sharp increase in racism and race-related hate crime.
The British government is expecting the entire UK economy to dive four times deeper over the 15 years after Brexit than it did during the last recession. Will it recover, we might ask, after those first 15 years are over? No. There is no reason to imagine it will. Removed from the wider European bloc, it is likely that over a protracted period the British economy will sink to a new normal. This much was predicted some time ago by arch Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg when he admitted that the recovery after Brexit may be 50 years down the line.
To put this is Texas terms: We’ve struck oil. We are rich. We are richer than our wildest dreams! But, wait, we’re not. We are not an independent country. We voted No to independence in 2014, believing we were broke, and that the oil was running it. We bought the lie that what oil we had left wouldn’t be worth a pittance. The same people who were laughing at us then are laughing at us now; that oil bonanza – which they knew was in the pipeline – will not be coming to us. It will be going right where it has always gone, to London.
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.
In practical terms this divergence means that British rule on the island of Ireland will come to an end, ultimately bringing about the conditions in which a border poll on the constitutional future of the six counties will be reduced to little more than a legal formality. Given the population demographics of the province and the mutual economic interdependence of Ireland and the six counties, the long-term consequence of this deal – if agreed – will be the eventual unification of Ireland.