Sunday, April 7, 2019

Is Theresa May unwittingly making independence even more likely by implicating Labour in a hard Brexit?

Brexit seems to be taking us into a game of three-dimensional chess.  We have Jacob Rees-Mogg talking about how the UK could take advantage of a long Brexit delay by vetoing the EU budget or deeper integration, but that probably isn't what's in his mind at all - he's more likely hoping that decision-makers on the continent will hear his words and be spooked into thinking that British membership of the EU is more trouble than it's worth, and that they should just veto the extension.  It's a long shot, but the ERG have got nothing to lose by trying.  Meanwhile, Theresa May has turned her back on No Deal, not because she actually cares about the economic well-being of the country she leads, but apparently because of her obsession with "the precious union" and her belief that No Deal might lead to Scottish independence and/or a united Ireland.

Superficially, you can kind of see her point.  I certainly believe that it's naive of some Yes supporters to think that the SNP's two key objectives of revoking Article 50 and securing independence somehow complement each other.  In reality, revocation would probably lead to independence going on the backburner for a good few years.  Indy is only an immediate issue because of Brexit - so take Brexit away and we'd almost inevitably be looking at a longer timescale.  Intuitively you'd think that must also mean a hard Brexit makes independence more likely than a soft Brexit would, with No Deal offering the biggest opportunity of a breakthrough.  But I'm not sure that's true anymore.  It could be that the one thing worse for the precious union than No Deal is a compromise Brexit jointly authored and jointly delivered by Labour and Tory.  It remains to be seen whether Corbyn and May can reach an agreement, and the odds are probably still against it, but if by any chance that happens it could be the death-knell for the union.  By that stage, the entire London political establishment (with the unimportant exceptions of the Lib Dems and Change UK) would be equally implicated in a relatively hard Brexit that takes us out of the single market and ends freedom of movement.  The SNP and independence would be the only game left in town for passionate Remainers.

In any case, I'm puzzled as to why Labour seem so tempted to close a deal, because it's surely obvious that there will be an incentive for budding Tory leadership contenders to pledge that they will rat on anything that is agreed with Corbyn.  Labour support for the Withdrawal Agreement could end up being banked in return for absolutely nothing.

*  *  *

I'm glad to see the Greens keeping the SNP leadership honest on independence by insisting on a pre-2021 referendum in line with the current mandate.  And it actually doesn't matter to me whether or not Iain Macwhirter is right that they're only doing so as a clever way of wooing SNP voters, because the fact that it makes such clear tactical sense for them is in itself a triumph for the Yes movement.  It wasn't all that long ago that the Greens had an anti-independence co-leader in the shape of Robin Harper, and I used to genuinely worry (I recall writing about it on this blog) that they might abandon their support for independence after a No vote in the indyref.  It's even more recently that the Greens were carefully positioning themselves as more moderate than the SNP on the Section 30 issue by stating that it would be irresponsible and unthinkable to hold a referendum without Westminster's agreement.  The fact that they've swung the other way now is testament to the power of the "Yes constituency".  Left-leaning politicians can no longer afford to ignore us and our aspirations if they want to be electorally successful.  (Labour have been ignoring us for years, and look what's happened to them.)


  1. "In any case, I'm puzzled as to why Labour seem so tempted to close a deal"

    Labour have a largely remain/PV/Revoke membership but rely on the votes of a lot of leavers. The best way to keep those together is to be seen to be doing as much as they possibly can to reach a reasonable compromise/soft Brexit, perhaps also by voting for a People's Vote at the death of the process (in the knowledge that one is impossible?)

    Similarly, the SNP have to be seen to do everything they can to stop Brexit for all of the UK before seguing into another argument for independence in Europe.

    1. Yes, but the point I was making is that if Labour get shafted by the new Tory leader, they're going to get hammered twice over - Remain voters will desert them for facilitating a relatively hard Brexit, and their stock will fall more generally for looking naive and easily bought. They'd be better off looking for an exit strategy that leaves the Tories looking responsible for the failure of the talks.

      One point I strongly disagree with you on is that the "reasonable compromise" being discussed is not a soft Brexit. Nothing involving the abolition of free movement is going to look or feel like a soft Brexit.

    2. Only one quibble with that, James: it should be "when Labour get shafted" rather than "if". Devil, sup, spoon, long.

  2. "if Labour get shafted by the new Tory leader"

    That would suggest they want the talks to fail without it looking like their fault.


  3. Trying to work out the effect the behaviour of politicians and circumstance will have on independence will not help us achieve it. The task we have is simple: convince enough No voters to change from No to yes but five years on we still do not have the means to do so. We can talk amongst ourselves all the time but we still have failed to address the problem of the weight of media bias. We have to find a mechanism that can get the positive message across to those who are not independence supporters. what Corbyn or May do will not assist us in the long term - we have to convince 50% + 1 voter to vote for independence and we need to find both the arguments and the means to do so.

    1. Saying "this blogpost will not help us achieve independence!" is a bit like saying "going to the cimema tonight will not help the starving children of Africa!"

    2. James - didn't mean it that way - meant that we still have to find a way to reach, inform and change the views and perceptions of those on the other side of the spectrum. That I rely on this blog, wings and others for my daily news diet is testimony to that.

  4. Really going around in a holding pattern at the moment. Brexiters know that what ever could be agreed is too soft for them. Peoples vote despite all their noise there are not enough votes in the commons for them. The EU could say no more extensions, but probably the only majority there is at the commons is for revoke in the face of no deal, so that would lead to the UK back in the EU probably with a Brexiter PM and MEPs causing problems with the EU budget etc.

    So best answer for all is to kick things down the road, Conservatives and Labour have to carry on at least giving the impression that an agreement is on the cards, but the fact the May is travelling to France and Germany tomorrow rather than being the UK to get any agreement through the commons, shows that chances of any agreement happening looks slim.

  5. The moment Corbyn signs up to the racist grand English nationalist right wing extremist hard brexit (completely out of the single market and an end to free movement for Scots) coalition is the day the union dies.

    It will break Labour from Gretna to Berwick.

    He's already signed up to the withdrawal agreement so the exit part is done and dusted. They're just now both trying to own the political statement.

    1. Good job there is no sign of it happening then :)

    2. Labour are already in coalition with the Tories. They did that be starting coalition talks. Why do you think their vote% is falling off a cliff? They voted for article 50 and now are in talks to ensure it happens.

      And anyway, corbyn has signed off the exit agreement / brexit already. They're just negotiating on the hardness of the hard brexit they both want (out of the EEA and end to free movement for scots).

      If you discovered your partner agreed to a hot night of sex with someone else, you don't just forget about it because it was put on hold due to an slight disagreement over the hotel room.

      Labour are already supping with the devil. They are fucked already. It's too late to turn back now.


      Because for Labour, England is always first.

  6. SNP impressive after 12 years of government.


    7% Satisfied 65% Dissatisfied = -58% NET
    14% Satisfied 64% Dissatisfied = -50% NET

    Pre-dates him going into coalition with the Tories.

    1. Although since he's apparently less popular than May, you'd expect that to damage her more than him.

    2. Corbyn did a great job at pretending to be the nice guy that would deliver a soft brexit. People accepted his apparent lack of progress on this as down to his bumbling nature.

      Now they are realising it wasn't bumbling at all. It was a calculated effort to take the UK out of the EU and EEA to a hard brexit as he's always wanted. He's been hoping to blame the Tories for that and the associated great brecession; it's been his plan all along. People are not realising this with horror.

      Now he's not so sure brexit will happen, but he wants it so much, he's actually entered coalition talks* with the most right-wing Tory government in history...which, if talks end in agreement, will ensure brexit but, almost guarantee a hard right Tory UK majority afterwards as Labour hemorrhage votes to the SNP, Libs, Greens, Plaid, CHUK etc; at least outside of England.


      *Remember the DUP? They used to be in coalition, but now England is taking centre stage.

  7. Short answer : "Yes"...

    They were telt.." Sup wi a lang spoon"

    1. Womblina ButtblastApril 8, 2019 at 10:49 PM

      Exactly. And his spoon is famously short.

  8. Latest Welsh poll has Labour taking a big hit.


  9. Scottish subsample from ComRes poll:
    SNP: 39
    Con: 24
    Lab: 23
    LD: 7
    TIG: 3

    1. Aye, seems 39 is now now longer the mid range for the SNP, but the lower bound; comres subsamples have never favoured them.

      UK-wide both Labour and the Tories on 32%. Ooch.

      Absolutely no way either of them would want a GE based on recent average trends.

      In terms of longer term patterns, the 'Corbyn factor' has utterly vanished and Labour are back to the levels they were before he took over, both in Scotland (based on subsamples), and UK wide.

      So, some sort of grand English nationalist coalition on brexit looks more appealing to both con and lab each day.

      With the Tories dumping the DUP, they will need corbyn's extremist right-wing anti-migrant votes to tide brexit through right to the end of the transition.