Scots are genuinely and rightly concerned about the future of devolution. There is nothing permanent in the current constitutional arrangement, and nor can there ever be. It matters not a jot what the Scotland Act says or what any one politician says; sovereignty in the United Kingdom rests only in Westminster. No law and no treaty can bind the power of this or any future London government to any particular course of action. We can talk about the Claim of Right and Scots Law all we like, the legal reality, for so long as we remain a part of the United Kingdom...
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.
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.
Earlier today, in an effort to clear things up, I contacted the Russian Embassy. Other than snorting at my question the chap in the Press Office asked only: “What the ‘Chuckle Brothers?’” before saying he could not make a comment on the issue. Obviously, the Russians are finding this nonsense has hilarious as the rest of us. An hour later the Embassy tweeted an image of the suspects beside an image of the of the UK military clean-up operation in which the experts are kitted out in serious looking yellow hazmat suits and oxygen masks. Russians just must be hardier souls.
More Scots than ever are of the opinion that, so long as Scotland is a member of the British union state, pro-secessionist parties should follow a policy of abstentionism – having our elected MPs refuse to take up their seats in the House of Commons, until we have secured our independence. Yesterday on the blog I made my own position on the Westminster question clear; writing that “we cannot – as a nation – hope for democracy at Westminster.”
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.
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.