There was a big response to the excellent essay from Jim Sillars which was published on this site yesterday. Many were excellent but this one from my correspondent Breeks struck me as highly constructive and visionary in terms of the opportunities that existed, and still exist, if only the Scottish Government would act positively to those possibilities. I publish below his excellent comments.
Great words from Jim Sillars.
What particularly chimes with me is the relationship with England post UK.
Back when Westminster’s Brexit negotiations were bedevilled with the Irish backstop, and Europe held out the prospect of transitional “holding pen” status for Scotland, I felt there was truly golden opportunity for some hard sell Constitutional bargaining.
The Union I firmly believed was Constitutionally defunct with the two sovereign entities of the UK at irreconcilable loggerheads, the subsequent Northern Irish Protocol didn’t really resolve the Northern Irish Backstop and Good Friday Agreement, and to my mind, that’s when Scotland should have made it’s move.
Scotland could have secured Independence, but largely mitigated the shock of Independence on the whole UK by presenting Scotland as a buffer state intermediary between Europe and a Brexited England. Scotland in the EU, but with a legacy of UK trade which was accommodated in special status for Scotland, (not unlike the NI protocol) but which allowed the English economy to filter trade to and from Europe through Scotland. The issue of a Border in the Irish Sea would have moved geographically to the Scottish / English border, – a hard border yes, but with Scotland across that hard border being a benign buffer state “filtering” EU / English through trade.
Scottish Independence could have been the cushion England needed to make their Brexit debacle more viable. And while I find nothing very appealing about Scotland cushioning rampant English Nationalism and the folly of Brexit, there would have been a vested interest in London for seeing Scotland’s Independence recognised quickly and smoothly.
Pipe dream? Maybe. I’m no expert. The big flaw in my thinking is probably not understanding how absolutely vital Scotland’s resources are to Westminster. The idea is seductive, but I fear is no negotiation that Westminster can contemplate willingly, not until compelled to address Scottish Independence delivered.
So yes, I want to count that as one more failure for Sturgeon, but this one would always have been tough.
That status for Scotland wasn’t pursued and we are now peripheral bystanders to the alternative arrangement that is now evolving. But the notion persists in my head, where an Indy Scotland styles itself as the Istanbul of Western Europe, where the North Sea / GUIK Gap shipping lanes function as our Bosporus, and Scotland becomes a trade hub at the convergence of EU / EFTA / US / English / Commonwealth trade zones, and turns Scapa Flow into a massive modern Container Facility, with strong links to the entire European sea board.
Brexit was such a massive opportunity missed, squandered by Scotland’s longest serving FM. If only her driving ambition had been to be the “last” FM of a devolved Scottish assembly rather than its dreary longest serving.
There is no connection between Breeks and Professor Alf Baird that I know of but I am sure there would be agreement between them on the massive opportunity that exists at Scapa Flow. All it takes is the vision and the will. Professor Alf Baird lives in Orkney so for once we have the right man in the right place. That just leaves the need for our Government to recognise the opportunity and do something about it. Then he would be there at the right time as well!
I am, as always
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