A large ornate oak door creaks open, leading from an anteroom into an impressive meeting room furnished with a long highly polished table surrounded by a set of antique chairs.
Above and behind the central chairs on one wall there is a portrait photograph of a stern late middle -aged woman with a bouffant, a set of pearls and dressed in a blue suit. The photo seems to glow in its frame, and the eyes follow viewers around the room. The lense used to take the photograph reflecting the photographer’s skills in the airbrushing techniques of that time.
At the table sits a tall lean angular woman with grey hair, also in a dark blue suit. In her hands she firmly holds around half a dozen sheets of A4 paper.
” First Minister of Scotland Sturgeon Prime Minister” announced the Downing Street flunkey as he leads a diminutive figure in a light coloured suit into the room.
” Ah Nicola, how are you? Come in, come in, would you like some tea? ”
” I’m well thanks Prime Minister. How are you? It must be all a bit hectic for you at the moment, with one thing and another.” said the Scottish accented smaller woman.
Looking slightly worried, awkward, and anxious to change the subject the taller of the two women announced “Ah, here’s our David with the tea tray. Come in Secretary of State for Scotland, we’re all friends here.”
At this a bearded man in glasses with fading ginger hair, slightly sweating from his brow and top lip,entered the room carrying a tray of expensive china cups.
” Good morning Prime Minister” said the man, beaming, a look on his face like he had just received a nobel prize for sycophancy.
Turning his attention across the table the man continued ” Ah Nicola, nice to see you again. Can I tempt you to a Great British teacake?” he said, gesturing towards the tray, ” or we have fruit. We’ve got some really nice fresh strawberries, British in origin, from somewhere in Fife I think.”
At this the small lady he was addressing, now seated at the table, pen in hand, doodled a tiny slightly stylised version of the word ‘bawbag’ on the sheet of complimentary note paper in front of her.
” No thanks, Secretary of State, tea will be fine. Getting down to business, thanks very much for arranging to see me again Prime Minister. As you know this is the first time we’ve met since March. Time is getting short and I notice you’ve now set an official date for the UK leaving the European Union so I assume you must be well advanced in your preparations. I’m very interested to hear about them, and particularly about where you’ve incorporated or taken account of, my government’s feedback and recommendations to you with regards to Scotland. I’ll shut up now, because I’m sure you must have so much to tell me.”
At this the tall lady’s face turned somewhat ashen, her mouth beginning a series of what seemed like involuntary movements up down and from side to side (a trait which newspaper snappers loved her for) and she replied ” Ah, I see…. em, well, em, that’s David’s area, isn’t It David? ” she said nodding at the sweaty man.
“Oh yes Prime Minister, I’m across all of that Scotland stuff, I’m from there originally you know. You see Nicola, what you need to understand is nobody wants another referendum, we’ve received petitions that tell us that. I hear it every weekend at the Conservative young farmers club, I made a speech to the Myanmarese pipefitting industry on the subject a few months ago and to be quite frank, it’s just not on.”
Keeping her patience the small lady in the light suit replied, looking from one to the other of the two London politicians facing her. ” Uh huh. Right, that’s not what I’m specifically talking about right now, but we’ll get back to that directly. No, what I’m talking about is Brexit, your government’s plans for it, and how you propose to adjust the plans to accommodate the issues which impact Scotland and the democratic will of the people of Scotland who voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU.”
At this the increasingly sweating man, who was beginning to turn a deep shade of red, in either embarrassment or fury, it was hard to tell, looked at his leader, who wore the puzzled expression of a startled bunny which had just wandered on to the fast lane of the M6.
” Ahh yes, I’m with you now” he said. ” I misunderstood you” Looking deep in thought he continued ” I remember a speech written for me by central office about Bonanza. Yes, that’s it, It’s actually all about Bonanza. I loved Bonanza when I was a child. I used to imagine I was Big Hoss as a cantered around the border country on the back of my granny’s shopping trolley. No wait a minute, that’s not it, I’ve got it now. A Bonanza of new powers, that’s it. Scotland will get a whole lot of new powers and control of revenue and stuff like that once the UK leaves the EU. Trust me, trust us, we want the best deal for all of the UK.”
“Uh huh” said the First Minister, “which ones?”
Pores leaking like a Glesca water pipe after a thaw, and starting to leave at puddle at his feet, the Secretary of State Against Scotland, scrambling to maintain some form of dignity replied. ” Well when I say a Bonanza of new powers what I really mean is, they’ll be returned from Brussels to Westminster and then we’ll work out the best approach as to who should have future control. There are a lot of benefits to be gained from a one policy approach you know, isn’t that right Prime Minister?”
“Undoubtedly David, undoubtedly” said the Downing Street Premier.
The niceties now well and truly over, lips thinning, face becoming serious, the First Minister of Scotland spoke. “Right then. I see. Moving on. Prime Minister, the document we produced and sent you many months ago, in fact it was almost a year ago, ‘Scotland’s place in Europe’, did you or your ministers read it, and act upon it?”
(FM) “Michael Russell from my team has been trying to maintain contact with your Brexit minister and his team. Michael has made several recommendations and suggestions, on my government’s behalf, with regards to how Scotland’s fishing, agriculture, environmental and other sectors should be managed as part of the run up to, and then post Brexit period. Have you factored any of this in to your detailed plans?”
(FM): “Have you considered the proposals that have been made regarding Scotland, which has an ageing population and relies heavily on immigration to bolster the workforce and the economy, to have its own immigration policy?”
(FM) “Do you actually have any detailed plans for exiting the European Union other than contriving a breakdown of negotiations and walking away with no future deal in place? ”
(PM) ” Not really.”
(FM) Thanks for clearing all of that up for me. Having heard all of this I can’t therefore agree to recommend that the Scottish Parliament pass a legislative consent motion to approve your Withdrawal Bill to leave the EU, which you will do against the will of the people of Scotland.
(PM) Suddenly very interested in the sheets of A4 paper that previously were in her hands, but were now being frantically picked up individually and handed back to her by her sweaty man in Scotland. “”Oh come on Nicola, don’t be like that” (now reading out loud from her papers) ” Brexit means Brexit”, “What we need now is to unite, come together as a country, and ensure that we can get the best deal for the whole of the United Kingdom.”
“We have enjoyed unprecedented levels of engagement” during this process. “The UK and Scotland must continue to work together to ensure businesses and consumers have the certainty they need as we leave the EU”.
“At least, as a favour, please tell the press that we’re on the same page, that we are getting somewhere, that we had a constructive chat, otherwise the pound will plummet. I promised the business community at the hedge fund luncheon that we wouldn’t rock the boat any further.”
(FM) ” Did ye, aye? Well I’ll see whoever takes over from you at the referendum ballot box soon. Thanks for your time Prime Minister. Oh and by the way David the tea was cold.”