On the fringes of Europe, a nation chooses whether or not to plunge itself into isolation, removing itself from the rest of the world. Business will falter as a result of this narrow minded parochial mindset. Families scattered across borders could find it more difficult to meet each other. What could, arguably, be seen as national pride and the desire for a nation to run its own affairs could be taken and twisted into a country having a smaller place on the world stage, and regressive effects on trade, culture and diplomacy.
David Cameron’s plans for a referendum on the EU is far more isolationist than the SNP’s policies could ever be.
His current plan appears to be to have a referendum on a ‘looser arrangement’, not a “yes/no” referendum on leaving the EU. But it’s far from clear on how this would work. It seems unlikely that the EU would just let the UK pick the bits of Europe it wanted to be in; yes to nice bits like trade, no to ‘bad’ things like human rights.
There’s also the very real possibility that, once any plans for a referendum begin to advance through Westminster, these plans will be amended by hardline Tories. What is intended to be a choice between soft options could include some much harder options.
From Scotland’s point of view, none of this is a good prospect. Scots tend to be more European in mindset than the rest of the UK. To have Tory MPs having a major input into the frame of Scotland’s relationship to the rest of Europe is alarming. We might not always agree with everyone the EU does, but the positives outweigh the negatives. It would be a much more sensible option to cut out the middle man and join the EU on our own.
Which brings us neatly to the problem of joining the European Union, and whether or not Scotland would be easily accepted into the club – a contentious issue.
It seems extremely unlikely that the rest of Europe would watch Westminster deriding it and then refuse entry to an independent Scotland. I suspect the commissioners would actually take some pleasure in ushering in one part of the former UK while the rest sought to distance itself.
It’s also undoubtedly the case that there are much less stable parts of Europe which are already part of the EU, and in some cases the Eurozone. Both Romania and Bulgaria have longstanding issues with human rights and corruption (and I should add that I’ve been to both and that the actions of those in officialdom are not representative of the vast majority of the people). Even more established European states haven’t had their troubles to seek.
It would be a very strange EU that allowed some of the countries it has to join, but refuse an independent Scotland.
I’ve had my nose to the grindstone of late – as well as council work and the wee guy, I’ve recently been appointed the Public Affairs Manager for the League Against Cruel Sports in Scotland. I’ve been working solely in the council for a while, so it’s great to get back out there and expand my horizons.