In yet another attempt to extract a morsel of good news out of the mounting chaos in the wake of the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union, the Daily Express newspaper has proclaimed that Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s Europe dream is in “tatters” and that Scotland “will have to leave the EU with the rest of the UK”.
The evidence for this is based on a meeting between a European MP representing the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), David Coburn and European Parliament President Martin Schulz.
As Schulz has refused the comment on the meeting, one can reasonably assume the account comes from Coburn relayed to the rabidly Brexit Express which would have puts its own interpretation of the exchange into its report.
It is no doubt an attempt to counter Sturgeon’s own comments on her recent meetings in Brussels in which she said Scotland was “in a strong position” to block Brexit.
The truth is halfway between these two extremes. There is no constitutional basis for Scotland to prevent Brexit — that idea came from UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s tireless attempts to pour water on the post-referendum tempest by seeking to win Sturgeon and the Scottish National Party over to accepting an EU withdrawal.
Sturgeon would prefer to see Scotland keep continuous membership of the EU after a new vote for independence. That is probably not going to be possible, in which case she will have to bite the bullet, leave as part of the UK and then apply as a separate country, assuming a second referendum succeeds.
As for whether Scotland is entitled to a second referendum, I can only quote former UK Prime Minister David Cameron in the lead-up to the first vote: “Scotland’s best chance of staying in the European Union would be to vote to remain part of the United Kingdom”.
Surely it’s about time for the Scots to stop taking anything that comes out of Westminster at its face value.
Meanwhile, the future of several hundred British ‘Eurocrats’ who have made their careers serving Brussels is in doubt. For the moment it is business as usual. The new British Commissioner, Sir Julian King has been handed the EU’s anti-terrorism portfolio after Commission spokesperson Mina Andreeva said that as long as it was still a member the UK was expected to continue to play an active role.
Of more concern is the fate of the 1,700 retired British Eurocrats who currently have their pensions paid by Brussels. That process will continue as long as the UK remains in the EU and makes its contribution to the European Budget. However, Brexit puts the arrangement in doubt.