Andy MacIver: Brexit may not be the dagger the SNP hopes the Union hopes for.



Since the Conservative Party’s surprise majority in the 2015 general election that brought us the referendum on membership of the European Union, two thousand and sixty-four days have passed.

That’s a long time to worry about something that, in fact, didn’t really matter to the vast majority of people in the country.

Many individuals do not define their lives through this problem. Indeed, the only explanation why EU membership is even on our radar is because the Tories have used us to overcome their ongoing internal struggle.

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We are now at the beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning, at least. An accord has been reached.

We are now entering the stage of examining the effects and recognizing them. The votes yesterday at Westminster and Holyrood are largely meaningless for this reason.

Such occasions create more heat than light at all times. When – party attempts to determine how to spin votes and quotes for social media memes and election leaflets, major tactical discussions dominate the buildup.

Meanwhile, not much consideration is given about how a particular party voted in parliament outside the bubble.

What matters most is how closely the effects of Brexit reflect political party predictions.

In the end, that will decide not only the success of the EU exit, but also whether or not Scotland stays in the UK.

For the Scottish Tories, it has been a shaky week. For them, the abolition of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) was a crutch, claiming that the electoral saving grace of Brexit would be a rejuvenation of Scotland’s fishing communities – limited economically, but socially and politically significant in both urban and rural areas.

The fishermen, however, do not dance on the piers. They say the agreement falls short, after praising the promise of Brexit for fishing communities.

That’s important, for now at least. The solution to this dilemma over time, however, would be the basic issue of whether the contract is better than being in the CFP.

It is possible that fishing communities will grumble about a bad deal when the dust settles, but eventually support it rather than go back into the CFP. Just once will you be incorrect, and so on.

Brexit could not, for this reason and a number of others, be the dagger in the heart of the British Union that the SNP hopes it will be. At first glance, being Remain’s primary faction in a country that voted that way makes a lot of sense.

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Nevertheless, polls show us that sentiment about the United Kingdom plays a greater role in voting actions than sentiment about the EU; in other words, significant numbers of Remain voters will vote No in an independence referendum even though Scottish independence is their only ticket back into the EU, and on the other hand, similar numbers of Leave voters will vote Yes to Scottish independence even though there is a possibility of independence

More specifically, the SNP may turn out to have overstated the effects of Brexit.
As many have said, the sky did not fall the day after the Brexit vote, and it did not fall when the United Kingdom officially left last January, and tomorrow, on our first day in the post-transition world, it will not fall.

Indeed, life outside the EU will, for the vast majority, bear a remarkable resemblance to life within.

This is a concern for the SNP; if you say that, as we know it, this is the end of the planet, and then it is not, then you begin to lose credibility.

I expect that people will be well on their way to understanding that Brexit has not changed much by the time we get to the Scottish Parliament election in May.

For the SNP, more specifically, it might wish it had adopted a more nuanced tone by then. After all, telling the country that the sky will fall if the UK leaves the EU but that, conversely, the sun will shine brightly if Scotland leaves the UK is, of course, a Swiss cheese argument.

The SNP, in my view, needs to take a different stance now very quickly, while retaining some continuity with its anti-Brexx position.


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