Posted on March 16th, 2017
by Rab Bruce’s Spider
Let’s get one thing clear. Theresa May has not blocked Scotland’s next IndyRef. The Scottish Parliament has not yet approved that any formal request be made to Westminster. Once that approach is made, then May will have a decision to make. Until then, all she is doing is trying to set out a position.
In doing so, she is digging a hole for herself. She has tacitly admitted that the Scottish electorate will be able to decide on whether they want to abide by the outcome of the Brexit negotiations. What she has also admitted is that her own timetable for reaching agreement with the EU is far from certain.
To be fair, you can understand why she doesn’t want to be involved in a referendum campaign while also trying to negotiate with the EU but, quite frankly, that is her problem. It is unrealistic for her to expect the Scottish Government to agree to Scotland being taken out of the EU before the IndyRef is held. The principal reason for calling the referendum is to maintain EU membership, not to leave and then be placed in limbo until we gain independence and re-apply.
A couple of other reasons for May’s desire to delay have been suggested. First is that she wants to be able to use Scotland’s fishing waters as a giveaway in the EU negotiations. Quite frankly, I can’t see the EU falling for this if they know there is a good chance those fishing waters will not be hers to give away.
The second reason cited is that a delay until after the UK has left the EU will disenfranchise the thousands of EU citizens currently living in Scotland. Most of these are likely to vote Yes in order to preserve their current status, so it is in May’s interests to have them removed from the franchise. However, unless these thousands of individuals have either voluntarily left Scotland or been forcibly deported, they should still have a vote since it is the Scottish Government who decides who can vote in the referendum.
Next week should be interesting. With the support of the Greens, the section 30 proposal should go through against the protests of the Unionist Parties. After that, Theresa May must decide whether to accept the democratic decision of the Scottish Parliament or to adopt the stance of a dictator and deny it. More likely, she will enter into some intense bargaining with Nicola Sturgeon over the timing of when the IndyRef should be held. The outcome of that discussion will be very revealing. Someone is going to have to back down.