June 17, 2016

Source: Bigstock

A likely scenario? Perhaps. A possible one? Certainly. Thank you, Boris. Thank you, Nigel.

The E.U. divides opinion in the United Kingdom. But the U.K. itself divides opinion in Scotland. We had a referendum on independence last year, every bit as nasty and divisive as the present E.U. one. The Unionists won by a margin of 10 percent. I argued and voted for the Union. Would I do so again in a second Scottish referendum, if Brexit wins this E.U. one? I doubt it.

A second Scottish referendum is likely if, as seems probable, there is a majority in Scotland for remaining in the E.U., while the votes of the Little Englanders take the U.K. out. If a majority of the Scots want to be Europeans and a majority of the English don”€™t, something must give, and I think it would be the Union of 1707 that created the United Kingdom. I daresay the Leave campaigners would be quite happy to be rid of Scotland, too: England stands alone in splendid isolation! Why not? That is the logical conclusion of the Brexit argument.

As for us in Scotland, the Union with England is already frayed; it won”€™t take much to snap the threads that hold it together. And one can see advantages for Scotland. Last year in the Scottish referendum there were doubts about whether an independent Scotland would be admitted to E.U. membership, and, if it was, on what terms. There would be no such doubts this time round. The member states of the E.U., snubbed by England, would welcome an independent Scotland with open arms. Fatted calves would be killed for us. We would be the E.U.’s favorite son. It’s at least a mildly entrancing prospect, a temptation to which many Scots”€”me among them?”€”would yield.

I don”€™t want it to happen. I hope that there will be a majority next week for keeping the U.K. in the European Union. But if there isn”€™t, then it’s a whole different ball game. I”€™m Scottish, British, European. I would like to remain all three. But a Brexit Britain, the Britain of Johnson and Farage, has no attraction for me. It would be a meaner, nastier place, and I would want no part of it. I have never cared for the SNP”€”the Scottish National Party”€”but then I care even less for pretty well everything about the Brexiteers. So if it comes to the point”€”and I hope it won”€™t”€”I will be strongly tempted to vote for being Scottish and European, and goodbye to a Britain that had been rebranded as Little England.


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