by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Just about the only scare story the Unionists have left is the one about the problems Scotland would face regarding trade with England if it became independent. The UK Government in Scotland, formerly known as the Scottish Office, has been pumping out this message via social media for a while, hoping to persuade Scots that breaking away from its biggest trade partner would be a bad move. The irony of that coming from a Government which is obsessed with forging ahead with Brexit no matter the cost seems entirely lost on David Mundell’s office.

The scare should be seen for what it is for a number of reasons.

First of all, even if England decides it must impose a hard border between itself and a newly independent Scotland, they probably don’t have the capacity to do this. Several Tory Brexiteers have already voiced the opinion that they will simply wave all imports through the Irish border and the Channel ports because they couldn’t cope with checking them all.

Of course, the EU would require checks on imports coming into Scotland, so some disruption would occur, but we should not forget that the UK insists it will do magnificent new trade deals around the world so, unless they are particularly spiteful and vindictive, they will want to continue to trade with Scotland. Tories? Spiteful and vindictive? OK, maybe there is an issue there, but we’ll address that in a few moments.

Another reason to ignore the trade threat is to remember that Scotland has always been an outward looking country. Scottish inventors and entrepreneurs have always been capable of finding new markets when opportunities arise. And Ireland provides the perfect example of a nation adjusting its trade when opportunities presented themselves. When Ireland became independent, nearly all of its trade was with the UK. Now, it is only around a third of Ireland’s trade. It may take a little time, but Scotland could surely replicate this.

Also, while it would need an expert in central Asian trade to confirm or deny this, many countries which were formerly part of the Soviet Union must have had to realign their trading profiles on the break-up of that entity. None of them seem to have collapsed as a result of these changes.

And we should not forget the eastern European countries who had to undergo huge transformations in all aspects of society including trade when the Warsaw Pact crumbled. Nor should we forget that none of these countries, with the possible exception of parts of the Ukraine, seem keen to give up their independence and become part of Russia again. In contrast, they seized the opportunities provided by independence, with many of them choosing to join the EU to take advantage of the trading opportunities it provides. Do we really believe Scots are less capable of developing trade than the people of these countries?

But the main reason we should not be frightened by this particular scare is that England will want Scottish goods and services just as much as we will want theirs. Can you imagine them being happy at losing access to things like whisky, salmon and beef to name but three?

OK, you could argue that the Tories might convince the people of England that they can do without such things and should get used to American bourbon and chlorinated chicken instead. After all, when the English NHS falls into the hands of US drugs companies, people will be paying too much for medical services to be able to afford decent food and drink.

But, amidst all the statistics pumped out by the former Scottish Office is a very intriguing one. It mentions that Scotland exports nearly £6bn of utilities to England. That’s things like water and electricity to you and me. Indeed, it has been claimed that the amount of electricity being supplied to England by Scotland is equivalent to the power produced by two nuclear power stations. That is an incredible claim but, if true, shows just how reliant England is on Scottish-produced power.

The so-called National Grid, which really serves four nations, is designed to hamper Scottish production of power. We have already seen Scottish power stations closing down because paying the exorbitant charges imposed by the grid simply to connect to it made the stations unviable. In contrast, power stations in England are paid to connect to the Grid. That’s not exactly a fair and equitable single market, is it? But it’s the sort of thing we have come to expect.

Yet, despite this handicap, Scotland is developing renewable energy to such an extent that we are not only providing our own power, we are exporting enough electricity to England to cover the output of two nuclear stations they don’t have.

So, even if you believe the Tories are so spiteful and vindictive that they would trade with every other country in the world except their nearest neighbours, even they would surely have second thoughts about letting their citizens suffer power cuts because they no longer had access to Scottish electricity.

So don’t fall for this scare. Trade is a two-way process, and Scotland has a strong hand when it comes to negotiations. And, of course, there is the fundamental point that if we remain in the EU, then England will have no option but to trade with us if they ever do a deal with the EU.

The final thing to bear in mind is that every other claim by Unionists during the first IndyRef has turned out to be completely false. Why should we believe this one? Don’t get fooled again.