This blog was first posted on Huffington Post.
The SNP is not Scotland – this is a fact which is often forgotten recently when talking about Scottish politics. The SNP does not represent the views of every one of the 5 million residents living on the northern side of the famous Hadrian’s Wall.
Although Scotland was pretty much transformed overnight into a one-party-state at the general election, the nation, as well as the SNP, are gradually becoming more and more divided when it comes to the subject of the EU. The majority of the Scottish public along with Nicola Sturgeon, are planning to vote to Remain when the referendum comes – but the tide is turning, albeit very slowly.
One question comes to mind when discussing the SNP and the European Union. If the SNP really does want Scotland to be an independent, self-governing nation away from the United Kingdom, why does it want to remain dependent on the EU? Why is Scotland happy to be trapped inside an undemocratic, expensive, borderless club, when the ruling party wants out of a Union which official papers reveal spends £1,200 more per person North of the border than it does in England, Wales or Northern Ireland?
The Scottish people have been subject to legislation created in Brussels since the United Kingdom joined the European Economic Community in 1973. The EU has frequently insisted, following Brexit, an independent Scotland would be forced to also leave the EU and then reapply for EU membership!
Evidently the EU doesn’t need Scotland, just as it’s is increasingly evident Scotland does not need the EU.
There are still cries in Scotland for independence from the UK. These cries aren’t likely to die down any time soon. Eventually we will have to accept the inevitability of a second Scottish referendum, and possibly – rightly or wrongly – a vote to leave the UK. When this happens, the theoretical situation of Scotland joining the EU independently, would of course also mean they would be forced to join the single currency. All new member states must sign up to the Euro on entry to the club. Suddenly becoming an independent country wouldn’t sound quite so independent, would it?
Then there’s the cost of being a member of the EU – which everyone has to pay. Although the direct cost to Scotland is clearly not available at the moment, an educated estimate can be made. The UK pays a gross fee of £14.5 billion every year – this works out at around £225 per person for every member of the British population. We can also compare Scotland with Slovakia – with a population around the same size – who currently pays £2.06 billion a year. In addition, as we discover all the time, the EU frequently asks for additional funding to add to their coffers – to which David Cameron is often the first to whip out his chequebook.
Scots often cite the Social Chapter of the 1993 Maastricht Treaty as a reason for them to stay in the EU. This chapter covers issues such as mandatory sick pay, and equal opportunities – all issues which could be better legislated by the British government in Westminster, or even in Holyrood!
But although the Social Chapter may offer legislation on worker’s rights, the effect of extremely expensive overbearing red-tape on Scottish businesses leads to less job vacancies to fill in the first place! Even the SNP understands the burden this legislation has on Scotland at the moment.
In an official paper released in 2014, SNP ministers – still among the UK’s most enthusiastic Europhiles – warned against “competence creep” by EU institutions. However, less than 2 months after the paper was released, the very same SNP voted against cutting red-tape, which 93% of Scottish businesses would have benefited from.
Is the SNP really doing what is best for the people they are supposed to represent?
The SNP are now clearly using the EU referendum to hold the Great British Public to ransom. Sturgeon wants to push through a second Scottish referendum should the UK vote to Leave – potentially less than 24 months after their ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ ballot. This is a divisive and dangerous way of attempting to manipulate Scottish voters who want to stay in the UK, as well as English, Welsh and Northern Irish voters who wish to keep the United Kingdom together.
In an excellent piece for CapX, Conservative MEP Dan Hannan also criticised the SNP’s tactics. He stated he can’t imagine anyone saying “I voted ‘NO’ in 2014, but I’m so desperate to join the Euro that I’m voting ‘YES’ this time.” Nicola Sturgeon should give up trying to blackmail her own people and allow them to have a free and fair EU referendum, away from untruthful and scaremongering rhetoric.
Scotland may have benefited in the past from European structural fund money – helping to build roads and infrastructure, but it no longer qualifies for EU aid.
It is well known Scotland has plenty to offer the world – from its famous whiskies, with production at a high enough level to serve the whole of India if required, as well as some of the best beef in the world. The reduction in the world price of oil has meant Scotland have lost out for the moment, but through leaving the EU and promoting their other successful industries they could still thrive inside United Kingdom.
It’s time for Scotland, as well as the United Kingdom, to leave the European Union and take advantage of the Global Market – it’s time to Get Britain Out.