The Scottish Independence referendum campaign holds many lessons for any future In/Out vote on Britain’s membership of the European Union. Some of these lessons are positive; whilst others are undoubtedly a cause for worry, but Euro sceptics must take note either way.
The main lesson for any campaign seeking independence is the need for an exit plan. The SNP had one, but it was far from convincing. Voters are naturally risk-averse, preferring the devil they know. In the case of Scotland, the task of building a workable and independent nation – given all of the SNP’s unanswered questions – proved too daunting for many.
For the Eurosceptic movement this is a worry. The fear of the unknown pushes many to vote in favour of the status quo, even if they are unhappy with it. Evoking all the emotion of Scottish nationalism did not detract from this fundamental. Eurosceptics should be passionate about our vision for Britain, but our case must be coherent.
But further than this, our case must not be negative. Better together lost many Scots when it embarked upon ‘project fear.’ Exploiting the voters’ anxieties seems to have almost backfired completely. Scotland shows, that when their necks are on the line however, our political elite will throw the kitchen sink at securing the outcome they desire.
All of those things said. In Scotland, the insurgent campaign came close to victory. David almost beat Goliath. The Eurosceptic movement has a few advantages – highlighted by the Scottish campaign – which may just take us over the line. The first being that we are not seeking to establish a sovereign state, but rather retain one.
It will be much easier for voters to take that leap of faith if the outcome is tangible. Despite the best efforts of the European bureaucrats, Britain has retained many of the features of an independent nation – such as a currency, a central bank and an army. We are a key member of NATO and would remain so regardless of EU membership.
Our national debt, for better or for worse, will still be ours and intact after any vote to leave the EU. Many of these institutional and financial issues were key to the uncertainty over Scottish independence. This would clearly not be the case for an In/Out EU referendum campaign.
For example, the damaging uncertainty that afflicts our financial services sector emanates from the European Union – the status quo – rather than from an independent UK, the alternative in this scenario. Unlike the nationalists, we can guarantee business a favourable regulatory regime because it already exists.
Certainly, it will be a tough fight to free Britain from the shackles of Brussels. But if we avoid the pit falls of uncertainty, argue with passion and coherence, and leave the negativity to our opponents, we can Get Britain Out of the EU.