Friday, June 24, 2016

Can Scotland #Bremain?

While the UK as a whole voted to leave the EU, a majority in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Gibraltar voted to remain in the EU. As the results sink in voices appear to break up the UK.

The Scots consider a new referendum about leaving the UK as in their earlier referendum one of the arguments to stay in the UK was that leaving would mean leaving the EU as well. That point is no longer valid. This means that a new referendum might be more successful than the last one.
In Northern Ireland Sinn Féin called for a referendum to reunite with Ireland. Such a referendum however seems pointless as those in favor of the union with the UK have the majority in Northern Ireland.
At the same time Spain sees an opportunity to try to regain Gibraltar. It is likely that Spain will at least demand some concessions regarding Gibraltar in exchange for a new trade agreement with the UK.

A split between Scotland and England seems inevitable. At the same time it would be preferabele if a way can be found to do this that leaves Scotland within the EU. We need to come up with some creative ideas on how to make this work out.

I have two ideas on how to do this, both have their problems, but with enough will from the Scots, other Brits and the EU, anything may be possible.

The ideas are:
1. England and Wales leaving the UK
2. Only part of the UK leaves the EU

1. England and Wales leaving UK
The first option is the disintegration of the UK. Although this sounds rather radical, it does not necessarily have to be that way. If we look at the Island of Man, which is not a part of the UK nor the EU, we can see how two countries can work together closely. The Island of Man is working closely together with the UK and both fall under the British crown. The relation between the new British Kingdom and the Kingdom of Scotland, could be very similar. The creative part in this construction is where at least in name England and Wales leave the UK and not Scotland. That way Scotland can remain part of the EU. Unknown is whether Northern Ireland and Gibraltar would prefer to remain in the EU and go with Scotland or stay with England and Wales.
And England and Wales may need some convincing. They have no intention to initiate a split with Scotland and would require a good deal in exchange to agree to such a scenario. Part of this deal could be for England and Wales to remain a part of the European Economic Area (EEA), which could require EFTA membership or a new unanimous agreement between the EU, EFTA and the new British Kingdom.

2. Only part of the UK leaves the EU
The second option seems even more far-fetched. It is common for EU members to have part of their country not in the EU. Denmark for instance has Greenland outside the EU. Such a construction is not used for parts of countries that are located within Europe, but with enough will we can imagine such a construction being created. Such a construct would keep the UK intact although it would require a greater level of autonomy for Scotland. Scottish ministers may be assigned to handle EU affairs for all of the UK. Again there is no telling what place Northern Ireland and Gibraltar would choose for themselves in such a construct.
The EFTA solution is off the table here as only states can join EFTA. So for England and Wales to join the EEA in such a construction, the EFTA and/or EEA agreement will have to be amended.

Update with some parts from an article from Reuters:
According to the article Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon vowed today to protect Scotland's EU membership and said a fresh independence referendum was possible after Britain voted to leave the EU. "We will seek to enter into immediate discussions with the EU institutions and with other EU member states to explore all possible options to protect Scotland's place in the EU". "A second (Scottish) independence referendum ... is very much on the table" she said.
Scots rejected independence in the 2014 referendum by 55-45 percent and at the time the vote was considered a decisive verdict for a generation. Since then support for independence has not shifted significantly, according to polls.
But on Thursday, the United Kingdom voted overall to leave the EU, but Scots voted by 62-38 percent to remain. Sturgeon's SNP says many Scots opted against independence in 2014 because they believed that was the only way to guarantee EU membership.
The SNP argues Thursday's outcome changes the case for independence, and many Scots may reassess their 2014 vote. Sturgeon said on Friday a new referendum was "highly likely".
After meeting ministers in her devolved government on Saturday, Sturgeon said Scotland would not allow its EU membership to be taken away and would seek to build broad-based support at home and abroad to maintain it.
Other EU governments are wary of encouraging the Scottish overtures, despite some increase in sympathy around the bloc for the position pro-European Scots now find themselves in.
EU diplomats stressed that Scotland faces many hurdles to joining a bloc consumed by Brexit and that several veto-holding member states, notably Spain, fear a Scottish secession could boost their own separatist movements.
The Scottish Greens, the parliamentary kingmaker for Sturgeon, said any new vote should be decided by "clear public appetite", but included the independence option.
"It is too soon to say whether and when a further referendum on Scottish independence will take place, but in the wake of the EU referendum result few people will doubt that it must be on the table," a spokesman for the party told Reuters.

Willie Rennie, leader of Scotland's pro-EU Liberal Democrats, said in a statement he had committed his party to backing Sturgeon's EU negotiation process, but had received a guarantee this was not a ruse for a new independence drive.

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