Of course Jenkins wants to move the independence debate from the ‘hows’ to the ‘whys’

This suggests that the ‘hows’ are all sorted so we’re free to move on to the fantasy fun bit.

The reality is that virtually none of the ‘hows’ of independence have been resolved at all – and, as they say, the devil is always is in the detail.

The overt need to move the debate away from the ‘hows’ and head for the soft centre of the ‘whys’ is an admission of defeat on the ‘hows’.

Above all things it is the ‘hows’ that really matter. They are the deal maker or the deal breaker.

No one knows:

  • how the currency of an independent Scotland would be resolved…
  • how we would secure a lender of last resort to back up our economy…
  • how we would establish our own national bank – the UK taxpayer owns RBS and HBOS..
  • how our defence would work…
  • how we would relate to the UK defence establishment…
  • how our borders would be managed and policed – and never mind immigration, what about smuggling…
  • how or if our borders would be protected against, for example, foot and mouth disease [the last major outbreak in Scotland was imported from Longtown in Cumbria] and rabies…
  • how we would travel abroad under what passport, replaced when…
  • how we would be licensed to drive and to drive abroad…
  • how our postal system would work, nationally and internationally…
  • how the many UK-wide administrative systems would be unknitted, separated, with data transferred to newly commissioned systems – all in two years after a hypothetical ‘Yes’ vote in October 2014 – and what all of this would cost us. The UK would have no obligation to contribute to such costs, hypothetical independence being our choice, not theirs…
  • how our food and drug administration system, with testing and approvals, would work…
  • how all of the cross border, inter-state systems would affect the ease of physical communication between families dispersed across the UK…

The list goes on – and on.

The more of these ‘hows’ whose resolution would require facilitation from the UK – which is what it would remain – the more hollow the concept of ‘independence’ is seen to be.

Some of the ‘hows’ above have already been suggested as likely to operate through just such a facilitation – like the use of the pound sterling, the Bank of England as lender of last resort, the use of British passports and driving licences. And today, the SNP’s defence spokesperson at Westminster, Angus Robertson MP, has suggested a common airforce. Haven’t we already got one of those?

In the light of the Bank of England’s claim that no discussions had been entered into on the issues of the use of the pound and of the services of the Bank, we cannot know whether there is any substance to the possibility of British passports and driving licences. No one knows whether there has been any formal discussion on these issues either.

The ‘hows’ are the tripping points of the independence proposition.

The ‘whys’ are easy, if you don’t bother about the ‘hows’ until you’re committed. And then you’re in trouble.

If the ‘Yes’ movement got stuck in to producing credible resolutions of the ‘hows’, they would remove a lot of opposition and reservation, leaving the ‘whys’ for the home run.

As it is, they leave themselves open to unanswerable accusations of expecting people to vote away the security of the known for a mystery parcel which may contain nothing but unsupported IOUs.

The ‘how’ of EU membership

A very big ‘how’ of putative Scottish independence relates to the EU.

We are openly of the view that the EU, with the eurozone, has run its course in history and that the wise and energetic action is, instead of wasting time and money in propping it up,  to accept this fact and move on.

We have also said all along that, should an independent Scotland wish to be a member of the EU, there is no doubt that this would be facilitated – but that it could not be continuous.

Moreover, we are firmly of the view that a truly independent Scotland would not wish to swop one master for an even more distant one but would relish the freedom to manage its own affairs and to pick and choose its markets and affiliations according to the shape and opportunity of the moment.

However, the Scottish government lacks the stomach for that sort of independence and is anxious to tuck itself under the skirts of Europe, at any cost, at the earliest opportunity.

In practice, what would this involve?

First of all, whatever the Scottish Government’s protests to the contrary, it is inconceivable  that any new EU member would be allowed not to be a member of the eurozone.

The only way the eurozone can survive is, first, through fiscal union, with Brussels in the driving seat on monetary policy; and then through political union.

Fiscal union is, of course, the real deal in political union, so as soon as you accept fiscal authority from Brussels, the full deal, as salesmen say is effectively ‘closed’.

Where is the logic in moving away from a United Kingdom, with a shared currency and monetary policy – from a union that is  itself independent and familiar – and plunging into a much bigger union, where the authority that  matters is extra-territorial, much further away and Scotland is one of a plethora of members, rather than the second most significant in a union of four?

However, that is the Scottish Government’s intent so let’s look at the immediate consequences.

The limbo period

It is more or less accepted now that there would be no automatic and seamless continuation of membership; and that an independent Scotland would need to negotiate on this.

It could not formally begin such negotiation until it had the legal and constitutional status to do so. This would all add up to a period of some indeterminate length outside the EU.

What would happen during that period as a non-member, to give a few indicative examples:

  • with EU legislation which, through UK membership, has applied in Scotland – and might again, but not continuously?
  • with the sovereignty of fishing grounds and the status of EU fishing quotas?
  • with entitlements to the Single Farm Payments?

As a country not, for the time being, an EU member and with no date on when it might assume that role, what would Scotland do?

The most likely course of action would be to behave like a trusty, hoping to smooth the path to membership: to continue voluntarily to apply existing European legislation; and to operate the fishing industry as if it was still governed by the Common Fisheries Policy – but without being a party to the passage of legislation or to annual negotiations on the fisheries policy.

On the new legislation issue, there would be no constitutional or legal basis for Scotland to introduce simultaneously into Scotland any EU laws enacted in this period. This means that, for however long membership negotiations took, Scotland would be banking a welter of laws that would be introduced all-at-once upon being granted membership.

Imagine the chaos in the courts. Imagine the parasitical legal practices that would spring up on the back of a situation of this order of complexity.

And how would the fishing industry like the notion of the country accepting rules and practices it was no longer legally obliged to adopt?

Would members of the Scottish fleets accept European trawlers, including the latest Dutch mega-hoovers, fishing their stocks when they had no legal right to do so?

Would the fleets of EU member states, finding Scottish trawlers in their waters when they had no legal right to be there, accept them peaceably?

What would happen to Scottish farms in mid grant period of EU Single Farm Payments? Could the EU legally continue to pay them? Would it not be wary of the impact of precedent were it to try to find a way of doing so?

Some small farms, having to do without such substantial grants for an indeterminate time, would be likely to fail, with more exits from the industry and no new entrants likely to take their place in such circumstances.

This is a minefield.

And what would happen to Scotland’s MEPs during the limbo period of non-membership compliance?

Were they to be given some sort of paid attendance with speaking but non-voting rights, what would Spain have to say about that precedent, looking over its shoulders at the Catalans and the Basques?

And then of course there is the other big EU related ‘how’ – the ‘what if’ ‘how’, so to speak.

The UK will, they say, have an ‘in or out’ referendum on EU membership on new conditions at the end of 2017.

By then, if Scotland were to have voted ‘Yes’ to independence in October 2014, we would, by the First Minister’s timetable, be independent – and would not be entitled to participate in that vote.

But Mr Salmond has made it known that Scots will not be given such a referendum on whether or not Scotland should be an EU member. We can vote on whether we want to be within the UK but not on whether we want to be within the EU. This never was about logic and the principles of democracy.

But here’s a scenario: the UK votes to exit the EU and Scotland negotiates independent EU membership. [Indeed, in the context of a UK exit, Scotland's membership might even be fast-tracked. The EU would need our financial contributions.]

Our borders, our currency and our markets would remain complex – only different. The UK is  Scotland’s largest market by far – at £45.5 billion it is over four times more than we sell into the EU. But in this scenario that UK market would be outside the single market which is the EU’s one attraction – although less of an enabler than is thought – and which can be delivered by alternative and less expensive and restrictive alliances such as the World Trade Organisation and EFTA.

Interesting times – and the devil is indeed in the detail, in the ‘hows’ and not the ‘whys’.

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42 Responses to Of course Jenkins wants to move the independence debate from the ‘hows’ to the ‘whys’

    • Well you’ll just have to wait for the (Scottish) Govt. White paper will you not Lowry (& Newsroom).

      Alec Salmond is the most astute politician in the whole of the (dis-)United Kingdom!

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    • I would agree with that. Countries the size of India, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and many other smaller ones have become independent of the UK and are doing very nicely thank you. In fact they are doing a damn sight better than we are and I have yet to hear one of them say they regret it. Where’s the problem?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • I believe that the partition of India in 1948 (as part of the independence operation) caused significant problems and distress at the time, and its repercusions are still being felt 65 years later.

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  1. You have made the assumption that by the ‘Yes’ campaign wanting to move onto the whys they are done with the hows. You are correct in stating the large amount of hows are unanswered however it is still early days and there are two visions, which is precisely what they are as the ‘Yes’ campaign paint their picture as do the SNP party. The ‘No’ campaign paint no pictures sadly, they seriously, to date, offer nothing but the very depressing status quo and can only cast a critical eye over their opposition. This negativity like the last Scottish election is rewarded with defeat, have the London based ‘Scottish’Labour party and their new friends learned no lessons? Lets hear what carrots they wish to dangle to keep the Devo max voters away from ‘Yes’.
    The time for the real criticism and close inspection of the detail should come when the SNP’s white paper on a proposed independent Scotland in October comes up for scutiny. This is when their cards are on the table and worryingly the only cards dealt on a future independent Scotland.
    I find it unsettling that no other party with supposed Scottish interests although not wanting to promote an independent Scotland has put forward what their propositions for an independent Scotland or is it just too unimaginable?
    Continue throwing muck and scoffing at the positivity from the ‘Yes’ campaign and the SNP party’s vision for an independent Scotland and voters will be turned off, time for some reasons to vote ‘No’ other than Scotland sinking without trace unlike every other country who has chosen independence.

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    • JnrTick, Blair Jenkins, the SNP mouthpiece goes on about negative campaigning just like you. Given the disaster that separation / independence from the rest of the UK would be, then it is clear that the truth is always going to be considered as negative by the SNP as it shows that the case for separation / independence is full of holes.

      As Newsie has highlighted, there are many questions but Blair Jenkins and his SNP masters do not have any answers. Just looking at Jenkins performance on TV over the past 10 days or so, it is time he was replaced.

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      • From your posts on this site Benasheil and your obvious criticism of Blair Jenkins, shouldn’t you be calling for him to retain his position as head of the ‘Yes’ campaign?

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        • Good point JnrTick. Amongst the best ‘allies’ of the BetterTogether Campaign are Mr Salmond and Ms Sturgeon! Give them a long enough rope and all that!

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      • “there are many questions but Blair Jenkins and his SNP masters do not have any answers.”

        They haven’t articulated them as yet! You and Newsroom should wait for the (Scottish) Govt. White paper Benasheil before blowing off like this. Once published THEN you might be able to formulate some reasonable comment(s).

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  2. Partisan bilge masquerading as a journalistic piece, and the first blog confirms that by the glee in awaiting respones.

    Seems that our Newsie seeks to emulate the editorial balance of the Belfast Telegrapgh of old.

    Ah well Newsie, if taig baiting or whatever you call it, is the standard to which you aspire to contributing to mature debate, then you do yourself and your freesheet a great disservice.

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  3. Early days Jnrtick? I find that hard to believe . the SNP have only had how many year to get this right? And they are failling miserabley on two couts. 1) They have few answers to the hard questions and 2) most of the answers they have are based on their own wish list, rather than what the Scottish people want or have asked for.

    The whole Europe issue demonstrates this perfectly. ‘Vote for independence, vote for self determination , but remember, that vote will not let you self determine Europe membership, we’re telling you – you’re in’.

    Great indication of what life would be under indy.

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    • Not neccessarily how indy would be Jamie, this is just the SNP’s vision, their policies. You, I and every other citizen residing in Scotland will select a party in 2016 who will serve Scotland’s interests and only Scotland’s. Once again, voting ‘yes’ in 2014 is not a vote for the SNP party, what it may be however is a vote to remain or purue membership of the EU given the only parties that stand a chance of being elected in an indepepndent Scotland at the moment do not want to give the Scottish voting public a referendum on in or out of the EU.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Btw Jamie, it is indeed early days. The referendum starting pistol has not long been fired, the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ campaign’s have had little time to sell what they offer.
      Regardless of what we read or want to believe, the ‘Yes’ campaign does not solely consist of the SNP party , pop into the ‘Yes’ official website and see for yourself. The ‘No’ campaign however consists of party’s groups individuals with mainly London connections.
      I’d advise everyone who swallows the one sided views spouted on this site and the media in general to take the time to view what the ‘Yes’ campaign has to say.

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    • Jamie,

      What is it you believe in if anything?

      Do you believe British Nationalism as espoused by Cameron Blair Thatcher, UKIP?

      Is this the best what we can be–more cuts , more wars, more cuts !! Flag waving Unionists throwing bricks at the Police– How I weep for the young in this narrow South East English view of Britishness.

      Or be forward thinking and positive over this Nation (Scotland —just in case your not sure)

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  4. Independence aside, today’s Sunday Times Panelbase poll of Holyrood voting intentions puts support for the SNP at exactly the same level as its 2011 landslide victory.

    Todays’ Panelbase results are shown below, with the change on 2011 result in brackets

    Constituency:
    SNP 45% (nc)
    Labour 33% (+1)
    Con 13% (-1)
    Lib Dem 5% (-3)

    Regional vote:
    SNP 44% (nc)
    Labour 31% (+5)
    Con 12% (nc)
    Greens 6% (+2)
    Lib Dem 5% (nc)

    Others 3%(Panelbase interviewed a sample of 1004 Scots on January 11-21. Results weighted to provide demographic and political balance)

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    • Exactly Fletcher of Saltoun, thats what it boils down to when all is said and done.
      The status quo? Well we in Scotland wait for England to decide who governs us, Tory just now of course with one MSP in Holyrood, what kind of representation of the voting public in Scotland is this? We wait until the next general election to see if England decide to rid we in Scotland of Tory rule and replace with a party you could get a fag paper between them and the Tories regarding policies. The power to do so is plainly obviously, and solely in England’s voter’s hands, correct?
      If the Scottish electorate are content with this complete lack of representation and kid on democracy, vote ‘No’, if you wish to put your cross next to a party who represents and chooses to prioritise your concerns and will definately get elected if gaining the most votes in Scotland i.e democracy, vote ‘Yes’.
      Btw, when I say “wait to see who governs us” of course we have our Scottish elections butthey only result in empowering a government with powers which are inadequate not sufficient enough to make the scale of changes and reform we require to turnn things around. Is Scotland uniquely retarded, a country uniquely unable, uniquely unqualified and uniquely unintelligent to make decisions to better our society, surroundings and quality of life? Thats how it looks, how utterly ridiculous, only here in Scotland would we tolerate this subservience.
      Better together, this is all we hear, why? Can we have some detail as to why we are “Better together”. Better sharing the cost of Trident together?, Better sharingand servicing the ever mounting and terrifying 1.2 Trillion debt together?, Better sending our sons and daughters to foreign lands to risk their lives for oil together?
      Theres no reason why Scotland can’t make this work, other small and large nations have done so with far less resources, be brave, make a bold decision, no more brainwashed unionist lemming mentality.
      Anything other than a ‘Yes’ vote takes Scotland down an extremely gloomy road for the forseeable future, it’s no for me, give me independence where we choose our own destiny thank you very much.

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    • Yes indeed. At the moment Scotland’s membership of the EU will be decided by the population of England. Post independence we will have the capability of making up our minds on this (regardless of what the SNP might want).

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  5. You obviously had a bad night.

    The worst case scenario ( although folk would not necessarily say it’s a bad case at all) is that Scotland goes it alone with it’s own currency outside the EU like Norway and Switzerland.

    If the negotiations between Scotland and Little Britain and/or The EU don’t reach agreement on all fronts then arbitration will set in.

    You fail to realise that the dynamic to agree is not one sided. Just because Scotland is smaller – though not small in global terms- does not mean that it is in the interests of the Little Britain to agree. Remember the power to switch off the oil is in Scotland.

    But both sides are sophisticated and are aware of their international credibility so stop being daft and raising issues which a first year politics student would realise.

    Any cross border arrangements will be temporary and the process of disengagement will take a few years. However the main agreements will be in place before May 2016.

    If you think it will be difficult for Scotland and Little Britain to establish security and other national services you forget that the current UK facilities are populated by many Scots whose allegiance will be to Scotland. Little Britain authorities will facilitate the transference of information to Scotland unless you are suggesting that the UK authorities are actively and currently discriminating against some of their
    Scottish workforce lest they join the Scottish government services on Independence
    Es
    These
    Bough not small in

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    • Graeme states that: “the power to switch off the oil is in Scotland”. What absolute rubbish. The power over oil is with the multinationals who have their headquarters all over the world. If Graeme thinks that BP will say: “OK Mr Salmond, we will stop all oil production in the North Sea for you. Just let us know when you would like us to switch it on again. Our shareholders are not interested in profits”, then he is certainly living on another planet.

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  6. For folks wanting to read an online freebie with well researched and well written articles of Scottish news should try Newsnet Scotland.

    The difference in journalistic input and integrity is quite remarable. Try it and see what you think.

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  7. Willie, you didn’t tell us you do stand-up. That is the funniest thing I’ve read in a while…

    Newsnet – a latter-day Pravda for the separatists.

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  8. The residents of Islay did not get the opportunity to see the details of the poll in yesterday’s (27th Jan) Sunday Times because the shore based Calmac staff at Kennacraig forgot to put the Sunday papers on the 13.00 sailing to Port Askaig!

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  9. Benashiel, why don’t you read Newsnet Scotland online.

    If you don’t read it how can you comment. The standard of journalism is very good. Try it for a couple of weeks. Keep an open mind, consider the articles, and then report back.

    They’ve got good viewing figures on Newsnet Scotland so presumably they must be doing something right. But as I suggest, just try it.

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    • I tried it Willie. It’s tosh!
      “Scotland contributes an annual total of approximately £230 million in licence fees to the BBC. Yet BBC Scotland has an annual budget of £120 million, an amount which is being cut. Scotland has 8.6% of the UK population but only receives 3.7 % of the BBC’s programme making expenditure.”
      Quality journalism indeed! I don’t know if I even need spell out why this is complete nonsense and pretty much irrelevant! Talk about making an issue out of nothing.
      We all benefit equally from the BBC, one of the reasons it’s great to be part of the UK. To your normal person, it’s fairly immaterial where/how/how much is spent by the BBC because we ALL get to enjoy everything that it produced, if not on TV, then on iPlayer etc..
      The BBC is something that is wonderful about the United Kingdom and this would almost certainly be lost under Indy.
      So another sound reason to stay in the UK.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • .. and what makes you opine that “The BBC is something that is wonderful about the United Kingdom and this would almost certainly be lost under Indy.”
        This is no more than assertion. “But if you really can’t live without Nicholas Witchell on the 6 O’Clock news gushing on about how maaarvellous Charles and Camilla are, just do what they do in the Republic of Ireland. Those within range simply get an additional antenna and point it at the nearest UK transmitter to receive the full Freeview package. Those outside that range get a satellite dish. Sky viewers in Ireland get the full BBC output. If you prefer not to give any money to Rupert Murdoch, and who could blame you for that, with a generic satellite decoder you can pick up all the free to air broadcasts, including all the main UK channels. You’d also be able to watch Downtown bleedin Abbey even when STV shows something else. And you’d not have to pay a licence fee to the BBC for the privilege either. Of course people would laugh and point fingers at you for wanting to watch Nicholas Witchell, but that happens now anyway.”
        (Courtesy of Newsnet Scotland:
        http://www.newsnetscotland.com/index.php/scottish-opinion/4341-a-unionist-lexicon-an-a-z-of-unionist-scare-stories-myths-and-misinformation#bbc

        Your final comment ” So another sound reason to stay in the UK.” is neither ‘sound’ nor a reason!

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      • BBC,wonderful? Maybe 50 years ago, yes. Today, no! It’s one of the most biased channels on TV when it comes to news. They could even give Fox News a run for their money when it comes to slant. A bit like FA.

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        • Interesting. A genuinely positive vision for the UK and look what happened!

          Thanks for your opinion gents. Can you confirm, just for the sake of this debate – Newsnet is unbiased, yes?

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          • Probably not, but somebody has to tell us the bits that the BBC doesn’t. There are many websites which ARE unbiased, the best of these being “Scottish Review”. It might be a bit too balanced for some of the contributors on here though.

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  10. Great news from the Electoral Commission this morning.

    A fair question, fair spending limits and the bonus that the ‘No’ campaign have been asked to spell out what a ‘No’ vote will mean for the country.

    It looks as though we are finally on course for a fair and legally binding referendum that is ‘Made in Scotland’

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  11. •how the currency of an independent Scotland would be resolved…—like any other nation in the world !!
    •how we would secure a lender of last resort to back up our economy…you may have a point-oil rich, energy rich, people rich, agriculture risk etc etc —no sorry you don’t, we will be ok
    •how we would establish our own national bank – the UK taxpayer owns RBS and HBOS..(I assume that means we own a part of it–or are the Scots to be robbed again?
    •how our defence would work…Like Norway/Ireland/Sweden/Finland/……(fill in all the other countries of the world)
    •how we would relate to the UK defence establishment…(No uk if we get independence-but the capitalist shareholders will still work with us –skill’s in ship building etc–they know a good thing)
    •how our borders would be managed and policed – and never mind immigration, what about smuggling…(Is there not Customs at Glasgow airport etc I am sure they will still be there– have to look out when England pull out of Europe)
    •how or if our borders would be protected against, for example, foot and mouth disease [the last major outbreak in Scotland was imported from Longtown in Cumbria] and rabies…This is getting really sad –F&M was better controlled in Scotland than in England–trust our expertise in the veterinary and medical world–we are quite good at it !!–How were we protected as part of the Union? (UK Govt kept quiet)
    •how we would travel abroad under what passport, replaced when…> by bus, aeroplane, don’t take the high speed train –won’t come to Scotland until 2050–use the passport you have you have until it is replace with the EU AND SALTIRE on the cover. Big Fearties not allowed one !
    •how we would be licensed to drive and to drive abroad…(your not leaving Scotland ?!! stay and holiday in Argyll–as before -but remember to drive on the right.
    •how our postal system would work, nationally and internationally…(like any other PO system–letters look the same
    •how the many UK-wide administrative systems would be unknitted, separated, with data transferred to newly commissioned systems – all in two years after a hypothetical ‘Yes’ vote in October 2014 – and what all of this would cost us. The UK would have no obligation to contribute to such costs, hypothetical independence being our choice, not theirs…(take the tablets –you are getting worked up—Mr Cameron has promised to work with us –surely you trust him? It is good to see that you think we will govern ourselves (what a terrible thought!) Of course you may still feel that governed by London is appropriate–break free from your shackles !!
    •how our food and drug administration system, with testing and approvals, would work…(As present –not sure about the horse meat as an additive though -as that was spotted by the Irish Republic rather than the UK large company FRIENDLY FSA based in England
    •how all of the cross border, inter-state systems would affect the ease of physical communication between families dispersed across the UK…(works the same way when I wish to see friends and relatives in the US/Canada/Northern Ireland/England etc etc –I prefer not to drive on the M6 –but can alway’s fly to Birmingham and London
    I hope the above response has helped you. I stopped believing in a bogie man long time ago–here’s hoping for you

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