I believe Brexit is going to such an epic disaster that stopping it is much more urgent than achieving Scottish independence (I’d prefer both, of course), but time seems to be running out.
One of the main problems is that none of the main parties in England seem to be able to do much about it. I’ve discussed before why I think that a new anti-Brexit party is needed down south. For a long time, nothing seemed to be happening, but James Chapman’s new party seems to be ticking the boxes (even though I don’t think the Democrats is nearly as good a name as the Whigs).
Most of the policies he has suggested for The Democrats are good and sound (in particular I’m delighted that they would enfranchise EU citizens like me). From a Scottish perspective, however, one of his ideas would be quite revolutionary:
— James Chapman (@jameschappers) August 14, 2017
At the moment, practically everybody in Scotland agrees that the best way to achieve independence is through a referendum. However, if The Democrats get into power and ban future referendums, how can Scotland achieve independence? As far as I can see, there will only be three ways:
- A pro-independence majority at Holyrood will be able to trigger independence.
- A pro-independence majority of Scottish MPs at Westminster can declare independence.
- A majority of all MPs at Westminster (not just the Scottish ones) will need to vote in favour for Scotland to become independent legally.
It’s unlikely that all three options would remain on the table. The Supreme Court would probably decide on one of them if somebody asked them. If they go for the last option, I have my doubts that such a vote could ever be won, which could effectively place Scotland in the same situation as Catalonia, which at the moment seem to be going down the line of an illegal referendum (seen from a Spanish point of view) and a subsequent UDI.
Although I agree that there are many democratic problems with referendums – especially the fact that the losers might have to implement the result while the winners are criticising them from the sidelines – I still believe it’s the best way to make huge decisions such as whether Scotland should be an independent country.
It is, however, just about possible that The Democrats will get into power in the UK within the next five years, so we need to start thinking about how to deal with them. Will their antipathy towards referendums make them unelectable in Scotland, or will it be extremely popular amongst unionist voters? Will they be able to work closely together with the SNP, given that they both agree on Brexit, or will they become sworn enemies?
Perhaps the new party will never get off the ground, but politics is certainly very volatile at the moment, so we should be prepared.