Sturgeon thrashing wildly on currency again – as EU says it will consider only a new joining application from an independent Scotland

Nicola Sturgeon may sound assured as she stands before a phalanx of unquestioning media hacks on the steps of the First Minister’s residence at Bute House in Edinburgh.

Judging from her actions, however, as opposed to her words,  she is far more aware of the political predicament in which she now finds herself on the home front north of the border than she is of the wider techtonic plates of politics.

Four days ago, For Argyll reported on a 180 degree stagger of the FM on the issue of an independent Scotland’s currency – within a twelve day period.

On 10th June, the BBC reported Ms Sturgeon, as saying that she would want an independent Scotland to continue to use the pound, regardless of the result of the EU Referendum, asserting that: ‘The pound is Scotland’s currency as much as it is England’s currency’.

Twelve days later, on 22nd June, she was opting instead for the euro, arguing risibly that that the pound might take a drop in the aftermath of a Brexit, making the euro a more attractive option; and apparently ignorant of the fact that the Brexit which has now come about would force the euro into a far deeper and more prolonged attack in its value than will be the case with the pound.

And today – 26th June – four days later than that last stagger, her predecessor, Alex Salmond, is reported in the Scottish Mail on Sunday,  as telling them that he is sure that the First Minister is poised to opt for a new currency for Scotland – whatever it may be called, which would  be pegged to the British pound. [Pegging currency to the pound is a unilateral action and does not confer access to the Bank of England as the vital lender of last resort.]

This directionless thrashing about for what appears to be the solution of the moment – moment after moment – to the tricky issue of currency for indy, really does not instil confidence that in reality this is an FM who knows what she is doing. And if she doesn’t have a clue, her largely mediocre cabinet certainly does not.

This information from Mr Salmond comes as it is revealed that EC communications have now made it clear that they will not engage with Ms Sturgeon on the proposition of a seamless continuation of Scottish membership of the EU should Scotland have opted for independence during the period of the UK’s exit negotiations.

They have been clear that constitutionally they can deal only with member states, not with parts of member states; and that an independent Scotland would have to make a new application for membership.

This is not what Ms Sturgeon wanted to hear, since current members states like, of course, Spain, have their own separatist elements which would immediately push hard for independence should Scotland be fast tracked to membership. Such member states would therefore veto any such new application from an independent Scotland.

A game of consequences

For the FM, for the SNP and for the indy movement, this determination of the EC presents them with a tough predicament.

  • They can decide to go for indyref 2 regardless, and just hope that if that succeeds, they will somehow get an EU application through – even though adopting the euro would be a certain condition of membership. There would be no assured success of such an application, with the real risk being Scotland finding itself outside both of its current union memberships and a member of none. With the SNP government consistently concerned to see an independent Scotland not truly independent but a member of some union – and, in true nationalist sectarian fashion, preferably one that does not contain England, this cannot be a comfortable scenario.
  • Alternatively, still a member of the United Kingdom and with the unquestioned right simply and quietly to remain so, the SNP Government might well, in Scotland’s interests, choose to do just that. They might see it as the wiser choice to throw Scotland’s lot in with a Britain galvanised to move strongly to succeed outside the EU. The trouble with this option is the substantial loss of face for the FM and her government in what has been a pretty maladroit and blinkered series of political manoeuvres.

For the British union, the consequences of the EC ruling now shifts immediate political concerns to the plights of Northern Ireland and Gibraltar.

Scotland now has no serious urgent decisions to make. Whatever the face saving choreography and rhetoric that will emerge, Scotland can now take its time to see how things pan out in the UK-EU negotiations, in which it will be formally involved.

Northern Ireland and Gibraltar, however, are facing immediate threats to their constitutions, as members of the British union who now lack the protection of the EU, its freedom of movement and its common market.

Northern Ireland, out of the EU along with all of the UK, will have the UK’s only land border with the EU,  in the shape of the Republic of Ireland. NI is facing intense nationalist political pressure for a referendum on reunification as the only viable alternative to a hard land border. This is a very long land border currently with unrestricted access in either direction, creating an inevitability of its becoming an EU migrant highway.

Gibraltar, with Gibraltarians absolutely requiring the security of the EU freedom of movement simply to get to work every day across the Spanish border, is now, as a British Overseas Territory, outside the EU, without that protection.

It faces renewed vigour in Spain’s attempts to take the territory; and it faces inevitable repeated border harrassment from Spain for its citizens who need to cross that border in a range of economic survival pressures – and who need the unrestricted border to ensure its supply chains.

As a small territory – it’s referendum electorate was 24,000 – quite far from UK shores and off our colonial radar, who will now support it in its efforts to remain British? This is a very particularly question today, when Britain has its own urgent needs to reshape its direction and its national strategies for external relationships.

Real polititique dictates that any empire looks first to its own needs.

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Related Articles & Comments

  • The xenophobic fascist right is on the march in England. They want reclaim their country from the foreigners they hate. The Germans, the French, those with a different skin tone, the resentment is palpable. And will they come to resent Jock and Paddy. Of course they will. 1930s Germany, 2010s England – history repeats.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 15

    willie June 26, 2016 4:28 pm Reply
  • Maybe not. Been reading that it is now up to Westminister to vote on the subject. If the majority of Mp’s vote to stay, then is it all back to the usual?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

    Dunoon Lad June 26, 2016 5:29 pm Reply
    • Unlike the SNP devolved government here in Scotland who completely disregard the democratic will of the people and who steadfastly refuse to accept the referendum vote in 2014, MP’s in Westminster (excluding the SNP of course)have already acknowledged that the EU referendum result is the democratic will of the UK electorate and WILL be respected.

      MP’s and the government are voted in as public servants to serve the public – they have been given a very clear message (no matter how unpalatable it may be to many) that the UK wishes to leave the EU. They are morally and legally duty bound to follow through with this decision – failure to do so will mean that democracy here in the UK is dead. And if this is the case then it will be every man, woman and child for themselves. It has been a long time since there was a civil war in Britain – I’m not sure ending our membership of the EU is worth spilling blood over; the demise however of democracy may well be.

      This of course is pure speculation but so has everything else I’ve read so far on this matter!

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 13 Thumb down 8

      Sian Laidlaw June 26, 2016 9:03 pm Reply
      • I hate to be the one to inform you but the union you squeak on about is dead.
        All that is required is a call to the undertakers.
        The garbage you spout forth worked last time,credit given,this time is laughable.
        Good bye.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 11

        A.Salmon June 26, 2016 9:53 pm Reply
        • I would challenge you to support that claim – you’re good at making these things up but never ever manage to back them up in any shape or form. The UK is only dead in your mind – nothing else.

          I’ve spoken to quiet a few of my SNP friends – and was rather surprised when none of them were too bothered by this – they do still want independence but not in a rush or until the time is right – they were all agreed that now is probably not the time.

          I’ve yet to meet someone who when asked directly, thinks its a good idea to compound uncertainty with even more uncertainty.

          Pretty soon Nicola will realise that whilst an application for Scottish membership of the EU would be very welcome post independence, it would be that – an application. And we would not be getting any special treatment – the EU leaders have had quite enough of that.

          Of course, that’s assuming she doesn’t get slapped down quick for acting outside her constitutional authority. When she speaks to Eu leaders – are these meetings minutes and an official record? I can tell you right now – they are not and not worth the 20second sound bite they will create. Have a think about that.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 4

          JB June 26, 2016 10:09 pm Reply
          • Your SNP friends are very wise. I worry about Nicola Sturgeon getting in too deep too fast, and falling between two stools as it were. My hope is that she is just making preparations, sounding people out in the EU about what is possible and what they would expect from her.
            It would have been so much better, in my view at least, if we Scots would have understood our non metropolitan English and Welsh neighbours and why they wanted Brexit. From my discussions with some of them we have a lot of grievances in common, with the EU and with Westminster. Alas, it seems we are now positioned miles apart in our respective struggles, even on different sides.
            We voted No when we were offered Independence, choosing to stay in the UK. When the UK decide to vote on Brexit we get bombarded with Remain leaflets by Nicola Sturgeon. Was she using the EU issue as a lever for Independence? It’s crazy to me, we should have got involved in the EU issue, seen it through and kept Independence for another day. We are not doing our credibility any favours.
            If we can be Independent of Westminster, which I believe we can be, then we can be Independent of the EU as well.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

            Murdoch MacKenzie June 26, 2016 11:29 pm
          • Murdoch, I cannot give you a definitive answer for all those who in England who voted for Brexit but here is a flavour from friends down south who did:
            * totally fed up with being dictated to by Westminster that ignores our part of the country
            * tired of local jobs disappearing thanks to EU regulations
            * immigration in a number of ways: losing out to immigrants on housing lists (this from a disabled person currently living with daughter’s family in totally unsuitable accommodation); feeling threatened in the community because so many immigrants have moved in and taken over and not integrating; issues about medical treatment and parents sick of their kids being in the minority of English language speakers at school.
            * deep distrust over the way the EU is run, the amount of money paid in, the EU gravy train and corruption.

            Not all these comments come from the elderly; many come from people in their 20s and 30s with a good education and qualifications and either in work or trying to find work. Most of them acknowledge some good the EU has done but their bad experiences outweighed the good.

            OK, I accept this is only a snapshot of folks I know from the north-east and in the shires of England and isn’t representative of the whole, but is given as an illustration. On a purely personal level, I find it interesting that so many Tory shires voted Brexit.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

            Jade June 27, 2016 10:47 am
    • Given the disgraceful racist behaviour being given to polish people down South at present, source huff post,not EBC,I think you better get off the happy pills and come into the real world.
      There will be no going back now!!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 9

      A.Salmon June 26, 2016 10:02 pm Reply
  • Interesting articles in Scotland on Sunday: “Fallout of vote to Leave and how it will affect every aspect of life”. Environment, tourism, science, finance, the arts …
    Alas, AFTER the event, this is the calm and reasoned detail from informed people that we should have been reading BEFORE the event instead of all the shouty shouty panicking stuff.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

    ClootieDumpling June 26, 2016 10:10 pm Reply
  • Since the actual and potential leaders of the Unionist parties are hiding from the public one assumes they have nothing meaningful to say. Having watched theFirst Minister today her only commitment was to protectScotlands interest which is rather more than these other ‘ leaders’ have offered theUK public.

    There are so many levels to this referendum decision that one draws parallels with 1848 the year of Revolutions.

    We’ll see!

    Nicola is the only UK leader with any political gravitas at the moment according to the UK media.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 15

    Graeme McCormick June 26, 2016 11:37 pm Reply
    • Would this be the same MSM (mainstream media) you are now believing Graeme – you know, the same ones who were so biased and telling lies about the independence referendum back in 2014 they couldn’t be trusted or believed because you didn’t like what they were printing??

      All media have a duty to report facts accurately, truthfully and responsibly – unfortunately all media are also businesses which means they need to make money in order to pay their employees and the only way they can do that is by speculating, titivating and massaging the truth in order to sell!

      Go figure 😉

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 3

      Sian Laidlaw June 27, 2016 8:31 am Reply

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