by Rab Bruce’s spider

One of the very few attack lines the Unionists have left to them is the threat of a hard border between Scotland and England if Scots should have the temerity to vote for their country to become normal. As always with Unionists, they play on fear of the unknown with the promise that things can only ever be worse than they are under Westminster control.

It is worth noting a few things ab out a hard border. If Scotland follows the sensible approach and adopts its own currency and re-joins the EU, there will certainly be a hard border because that is what England wants and has already established between the UK and the rest of the world which, thanks to their incompetence, now includes Northern Ireland. An independent Scotland within the EU will, however, have open borders with the rest of the EU and, thanks to EU trade deals, a chance to trade with the rest of the world on far better terms than it will have if it remains in the UK.

Logistically, of course, a hard border with England will present challenges for many businesses such as supermarket chains which send food and other goods across the border daily. But Common Weal showed some time ago that use of technology can ease border congestion and improve the level of duty raised well above the levels currently taken by the UK Border Force. As long as that technology is not developed under Westminster control, it could greatly enhance Scotland’s financial position and ease the flow of cross-border traffic.

And let’s not get too excited about border delays, They are likely to happen, but this is England’s choice, not Scotland’s. Once Lock Down ends and English tourists try to travel to the continent, they’ll soon discover exactly what ending freedom of movement means for them. Yes, Scots travelling to England will also face delays, but perhaps that will encourage people to look further afield for business and leisure travel. But we must remember that the hard border would be created by England, not by Scotland. If the UK had remained in the EU, there would be no hard border at all.

It is also worth bearing in mind that there is a border between Canada and the USA which has far more crossing points than the Scotland / England border, yet cross-border trade and travel doesn’t seem to be a major issue there. Why should it be any different here? Despite what the media would have you believe, Scots are not uniquely incapable of doing things other countries regard as normal. Any issues will stem from England’s intransigence, and there are solutions to that.

As I’ve said many times before, our sea and air ports need to be developed to greatly increase levels of transport and trade between Scotland and Europe by-passing England. If England does not want our food, water and electricity, comoodities of which it is desperately short, they don’t need to make trade easy for us, so we would need to re-balance our trade, just as Ireland did in the 20th Century when it became a normal country, and as Slovakia and the Czech Republic have done since they agreed to split. It is not something that can be done overnight, but it can be done, and it is worth noting that many former Eastern Bloc countries are now overtaking many UK regions in terms of GDP. Being a normal country means you can direct your own affairs, while remaining under Westminster control will simply mean a continuation of the current stagnation. More and more people are waking up to the fact that the UK is run for the benefit of a wealthy elite who are based mainly in the south-east of England. Anywhere outside that area is paid little more than lip service, and occasionally thrown a few scraps to keep the people quiet and quiescent. Surely we can aspire to better than that?

So don’t be frightened by threats (or promises) of a hard border with England. It will be their choice, not ours, and they will soon change their minds when they discover that they need our natural resources. What it will mean is that they will need to pay for them through trade like a normal country rather than simply take them like some colonial despot.

I’d prefer no border, but it was England’s choice to leave the EU. One day they may realise the harm that decision has caused, although I suspect a majority of English voters will think it a price worth paying to keep foreigners out. A hard border may create some short-term problems for Scotland, but it will be as nothing compared to the harm remaining in post-Brexit UK will cause.