The ‘Partnership Of Equals’

The assembled media pack waited with baited breath, even Brian Taylor. Questions at the ready. The First Minister of Scotland stood before them, and in her usual poised and articulate manner laid out the clear case for respecting the democratic will of the majority of voters in Scotland, and the options available to protect their rights as European citizens. She’s good. She’s damn good.

She didn’t try to hide it, she didn’t try to fudge the issue. No surprise to anyone. She, her government, the vast majority of the people who voted for her government, and many others in a wider movement, believe that the best way for Scotland to protect its place in Europe is as an independent member state. That is a given.

However the proposed scenarios presented as a result of some hard work in the background over the last six months are transparent, and unambiguous. As a compromise to what they consider as the best way forward the Scottish government have explored avenues to protect Scotland’s interests in Europe, and remain as a member of the United Kingdom. If that isn’t clear the first time round I’ll repeat it again. The Scottish government have explored avenues to protect Scotland’s interests in Europe, and remain as a member of the United Kingdom.

In doing so they are offering the UK government an opening. A premise, a launch-pad for the whole of the UK to push forward negotiations with the twenty seven remaining EU member states to continue to seek access to the single market, within the European Economic Area, and remaining part of the EU Customs Union, should Westminster choose to explore that option.

Alternatively, should the inclination of Theresa May and her cronies be not to explore the possibilities of a suck it up, sorry Mr & Mrs J Foreigner, but we’ve partially changed our mind option, or if they perhaps feel that the ability to spin that one well enough to satisfy those who voted to “take back control” without Theresa going the way of David Cameron, out to rich pasture, is limited, there is a second option on offer, to support Scotland (again whilst Scotland remains a member of the United Kingdom) in a bid to continue as a member of the single market.

Neither of these options are easy to achieve, nothing about Brexit is, but they are not impossible. The second option is not without precedent. There are many existing complex and mixed trading arrangements between EU countries and non-EU countries, none of which seem to cause too much problems, or the requirement for a “hard border” between neighbouring nation states.

It is clear that whatever Westminster decides, once they stop sitting in their dark corner rocking back and forward muttering “What are we going to do? What are we going to do?” over and over again, that there are major changes ahead in the way that citizens of non-UK countries are treated during any time they spend in the UK (In the southern part of it at least).

Over the next few years there are set to be reams of new rules, regulations, policies and legislation on ID cards, visas and border controls, to back up the hard-line stance of 21st century right-wing Daily Express and Mail Britain. The current Prime Minister has already got ‘form’ for introducing and supporting this sort of stuff in her previous role as Home Secretary. Therefore the idea that England and Wales couldn’t control the flow of immigrants in to their countries if Scotland was still a member of the EU free movement zone is farcical. In a couple of years time you won’t be able to get a house, a job, medical treatment, benefits, or a roll of Andrex between Cornwall and Carlisle without a scanner confirming that you are bona fide, and have the proper entitlements.

Equally any suggestion that the above is a reason for a hard border between the EU single market zone and England, on the Scottish border, is easily dismissed by simply referring to the island of Ireland, where the UK would not possibly consider readopting stringent border controls, a move which would prove disastrous. It would therefore make no logical sense to treat Scotland any differently to Ireland.

It’s interesting, if predictable, and still disappointing, to see the responses from Westminster’s unionist Scottish branch marionettes. As usual the cry is’ It’s all just an SNP plot to push their independence agenda’. Ruth Davidson’s lack of credibility but abundance of brass neck defies belief. Prior to June’s Brexit vote she was as European as Hercules Poirot’s moustache. She thought it would be a disaster to leave the European Union. Now? She’s an advocate of Brexit who thinks 62% of the voters of the country in whose parliament she serves don’t deserve respect and consideration. They should just shut up and do what London tells them.

Trendy, word on the street, hip-chick Kez’s media brief, in her usual crystal clear style, couldn’t find much to say about the 60 odd page document other than call for Nicola Sturgeon to “rule out a second referendum’.

Wee Wullie Rennie reckons the report is “an expensive exercise in Christmas window dressing as (yes, you’ve guessed it) the only option the first minister really wants to succeed is Scottish independence.” Well done Wullie. Very insightful stuff.

There is nothing more stirring and encouraging than seeing politicians showing a bit of backbone, thinking for themselves, making their own minds up about important issues which impact their constituents, and the people of their country, taking a stand against the tide when it comes to the crunch, doing what is right rather than what is easy, jeopardizing their career progress even if the situation merits it…….…… and their reactions were none of that.

Why would you vote for any of these people? Scotland could do so much better.

Meanwhile the organ-grinder has some choices to consider. In the words of Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon……

“To the Prime Minister I say this – your response to these proposals will tell us much about whether the UK is, in reality, the partnership of equals you claim it to be.”

Did I mention she was good? She’s damn good.

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