Rock, Meet Hard Place
Posted on July 22nd, 2016
by Rab Bruce’s Spider
Theresa May faces a difficult decision regarding Brexit and neither choice seems to offer anything but constitutional crisis.
She has said that Brexit means Brexit which implies that she will indeed encourage the Westminster Parliament to vote through agreement to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. The problem with this course of action is that it will inevitably lead to another Scottish IndieRef and may also see Northern Ireland vote to become part of the Republic of Ireland, thus leaving England and Wales as a very much diminished UK.
Can you imagine the angst Theresa May must face at the prospect of being the PM who oversaw the break up of the UK? Her one saving grace is that she could perhaps stomach this because she can point the finger at others for bringing about the prospective calamity. That’s a calamity from the perspective of BritNats, anyway. The majority of citizens of Scotland and Northern Ireland would probably view it very differently.
So, it is possible that Theresa May might see herself as the saviour of England, guiding that isolated and increasingly xenophobic country to its bleak new future which will see the Tories in perpetual power.
On the other hand, she might have realised that losing control over Scotland and Northern Ireland is too great a price to pay. Under UK rules, the result of the referendum is not binding and must be confirmed by the Westminster Parliament. What if Theresa May decides to quietly encourage her MPs to vote not to trigger Article 50? After all, the lies of the Leave campaign are now well known and the realisation that having access to the single market in Europe would still allow unrestricted access to the UK by hordes (or is it swarms?) of nasty foreigners might be enough to persuade Westminster that Brexit just isn’t worth it.
If Article 50 is not invoked, Theresa May virtually cuts the rug from under the feet of the Scottish Indie movement. She might believe she can keep the UK together and mollify the very large minority who voted to Leave by explaining that they were sold a lie by UKIP and others.
There are already some people calling for this course of action because the next General Election will be in 2020, by which time the UK will be outside of the EU. Given the problems Brexit is likely to bring, either through not delivering what the Leave campaign wanted or through placing England and Wales in a very isolated position and a declining economy, many voters may decide that it wasn’t such a good idea after all and might turn against the incumbent Government. As the main aim of the Tory Party is to remain in power, some MPs may be attracted to the idea of indefinitely postponing Brexit and attempting to handle the fallout rather than face the prospect of being voted out in 2020.
This is, however, a high risk strategy. For a start, Scotland may decide to go its own way anyway. Brexit may have been the trigger for many people but the Trident vote and the betrayal of the Clyde Ship workers have added to the case for independence and cancelling Brexit may still not be enough to persuade voters to return to the Union fold.
The other reason is that it may not be possible to suppress the outcry from the Leave campaign. While some voters may have altered their opinions now that they realise they were lied to, we should not underestimate the power of British Nationalism, for which read English Nationalism. The referendum may not be legally binding on the Government but refusing to act on the result could cause another major constitutional crisis for the Tories. UKIP would undoubtedly see another surge and the xenophobic Press would have a field day as they whipped up support for the referendum outcome to be honoured. Four years is a very long time in politics but it is very possible that cancelling Brexit could also see the Tories ousted, or at least losing their majority, not thanks to Labour but by a revitalised UKIP.
Remaining within the EU would also be very difficult because the other members would know that the UK’s membership is half-hearted and they would be very unlikely to be sympathetic to any demands the UK might make in negotiations.
So it’s a tough call, whichever way Theresa May decides to jump. If she’s smart, she may recognise that she’s already lost Scotland and so she might decide to bite the bullet and go for Brexit. If she tries to be clever and negotiate a way of postponing Brexit, who knows what could happen? She might end up having one of the shortest Premierships in UK history when Boris sticks the knife in and seizes control.
Either way, though, it is increasingly evident that Scotland is better off outside this truly dreadful Union.