BRITISH PM AND THE SCOTTISH FIRST MINISTER’S PROPOSALS ON BREXIT
DR FOX WOBBLES
Contrary to the constant moaning from her critics, Mrs May is slowly lifting the lid on her Brexit thinking, obviously without too much detail. Over the past day or two, in a statement to Parliament, and before the imperious and rather grand Mr Andrew Tyrie, and his select committee, we have been allowed an insight into some of her thinking. We hope that her promised further statement to Parliament in early January will provide more substantive fodder.
While there can be no way that Mrs May can accede to the Scottish Nationalists demands, as outlined by the Scottish First Minister Ms Sturgeon today, it would be quite wrong for them to be dismissed out of hand. Certainly, much of what is in Ms Sturgeon’s latest shopping list is nothing but a thinly-disguised attempt to gain further substantial devolved powers, ie de facto Independence.
Nevertheless, the majority of Scots voting to remain in the EU at the referendum was substantial. As much as one may admire and support Mrs May, and while we may agree that the proposals put forward by the SNP are unrealistic, the UK Government must be seen by all Scots to work with the Edinburgh administration to ascertain what common purpose they may be able to unite on in the Brexit negotiations. It is therefore gratifying that the UK Government has welcomed the publication of the SNP proposals and that they will be fed into its overall thinking on the British case to be put to the EU.
Put simply, Scotland’s perceived problems as a result of the UK leaving the EU may require a series of unique solutions, not necessarily those advocated by Ms Sturgeon, and many will hope that these matters will receive a more sympathetic hearing in London than has hitherto seemed to be the case.
Furthermore, while one may not disagree with the Scottish Tory leader Ms Ruth Davidson’s remarks on Ms Sturgeon’s proposals, these should not be based on the political opinion that the SNP could not win another independence referendum. We all know that polls are fickle and can change almost overnight. Most Scots, even Unionists, are nationalists at heart and have a marked affinity with the European continent which may not be shared to the same degree by the other countries comprising the UK. What are Ms Davidson’s solutions to protect Scottish interests?
Many of those who watched the UK Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox’s interview on Sunday’s Andrew Marr show will be left wondering whether he is in the process of changing his stand on the single market and customs union. Rightly or wrongly, this seemed to be a no contest position for Fox, but many were left with the distinct impression that he may now be wobbling. Could this be down to the realisation that certain business sectors may be greatly disadvantaged otherwise? He wasn’t giving too much away.
Following Chancellor Philip Hammond’s lead, ‘Transitional’ arrangements are now being referred to by various ministers. Mrs May and her Gang of 3, Messrs Davis, Fox and Johnson, should avoid this scenario at all costs. According to those who seem to know, such a deal could cost us some 250 million pounds per week, and just as importantly, any transitional agreement could take longer to arrange than a conclusive final treaty. Other resources such as manpower, which we all know is in short supply, should be used more profitably to secure a final deal.
After all the political humbug of the past few days, it was really refreshing to see Mrs May so expertly put Mr Tyrie in his place!