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.
When The Guardian breaks from its usual sedate and hipster fare to inform us the government is considering calling in the Ministry of Defence to transport food and that the bosses of big business are predicting “civil unrest,” I think we should wake up. Suddenly the world of the ordinary and everyday is behaving like the worlds of familiar disaster fantasy, and – what’s more – we know where it all ends. We’ve read this book and watched this film a thousand times before. We know the rules.
Details of an unpublished report leaked to the press reveal that Theresa May’s government is at present modelling three Brexit scenarios; “mild, severe and Armageddon” – yes, you read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.
Nicola Sturgeon promised the Scottish people she would revisit the question of another independence referendum when the details of a negotiated Brexit were better known, and while the clock is still running on the Article 50 talks the reset button on the final shape Brexit will take has just been pressed. We are now no closer to knowing the probable shape Brexit will take than we were at the end of June 2016. Yet, this isn’t quite bad news for Scotland – certainly not for the independence cause.
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.
London has every reason to deny it is currently considering the idea. May’s government depends on the support of the DUP, the political representatives of Ulster Loyalists – a community in the province that wants to see no difference between its “country” and the rest of the UK. But the British government has a nasty habit of denying its plans around Brexit. It denied a power grab in Scotland, and we all know what happened then. Denial is a British tactic designed to limit resistance to its plans until they are ready to be rolled out.
What emerged after the re-think hiatus of Scottish unionism was a hard core remnant of British nationalists; they have metamorphosed from pious peddlers of almost believable British lies into hard-nosed defenders of the union, no matter the cost. After this resurrection we found ourselves looking into the blank and pitiless eyes of born again, fundamentalist, extremist British nationalists; people with nothing left but a union jack and a thousand-yard stare.
On the morning of 30 March 2019, as Britain wakes up to its “independence day,” Scotland’s unionist talking heads will have a new job – taking down Holyrood. In David Davis’ – almost Mad Max – apocalypse the very survival of England will depend on its ability to cling on to the last of its empire, or to the oil at least. The only obstacle to this, of course, is Scotland and the Scottish people and our obstinate and disagreeable little parliament. If Scotland does end up going down the Brexit plughole then we had better get used to the idea that that will be the end of devolution.