Earlier today I wrote a letter to all local MPs, MSPs and MEPs urging them to fight to keep Scotland’s place in both the UK and the EU.
The letter read as follows:
“Whilst I am disappointed with the recent referendum result I believe
that there is a way for Scotland to retain it’s EU membership without
holding another independence referendum and that there is also a strong
mandate for doing so.
Currently, Denmark is a member of the EU. Greenland and the Faroe
Islands are both parts of Denmark but are not in the EU. I believe that
the UK could negotiate a similar arrangement where Northern Ireland and
Scotland hold EU membership whilst being members of the UK whist
England and Wales leave.
As 55% of the Scottish electorate voted to remain in the UK and 62% of
the Scottish electorate voted to remain in the EU, I believe that this
solution has a large mandate and would be the best thing for Scotland
and I hope that you will consider doing everything in your power to
push for this outcome.
To me this is without a doubt the best option for Scotland and the most democratic one. I worry however that this solution will be overlooked by the media who will fan the flames of a second independence referendum as they know that this is a controversial issue in the eyes of the Scottish public and will attract the most readers.
The answer to this question depends on the person who asks it. A resident of Scotland or the UK is likely to see things differently from a resident of Germany or France. This is also true of those who live in Hungary, Latvia or Greece. Each country has different neighbours, and attitudes differ on the need to work with neighbours.
In the UK, being on an island allows us to see ourselves as separate from the mainland, but linked to the whole world by the sea. Yet it cannot be true that the sea both separates and joins. In terms of trade, it joins far more than it separates. And where trade goes, fighters can go too. It has always been in our interest to dissuade the fighters from coming. The EU was founded in order to ensure that the nations of Europe had no reason to fight each other. By close economic integration, individual nations would lose the motive and the capacity to fight. However, if the peoples of Europe feel that cooperation has not addressed their problems, they will try to find their own separate solutions.
The big difference in perspective between continental Europe and the UK lies in the experience of warfare. The first half of the 20th century saw Europe twice devastated by war, whereas no battle has been fought in Britain since the 18th century. The two world wars came about because major powers over-reached and miscalculated, but also because national feelings were inflamed by the threat from other nations. Forgetting the past risks repeating it. It is the main reason voters on the continent wish to stay together.
The live issues in the UK revolve around immigration, jobs, and red tape. Some talk in surprisingly abstract terms about the ‘membership fee’ paid to the EU and the sovereignty of Parliament. What bothers me most about the debate is that the UK government has the power to deal with many of the issues raised. As I said in my previous blog, only those powers agreed by the UK government have been given to the EU.
Many other EU countries have issues concerning immigration and jobs. The fact that fewer have problems with red tape will be down to British gold-plating of EU laws. Jobs have been increased by EU action to enforce competition laws against powerful multi-national companies. The aim of international trade deals is to secure more free trade, which supports competition. National governments have their part to play in this. They should be providing infrastructure in education, affordable housing, transport and company supply chains. The best outcomes are likely when national governments and EU work together to generate more jobs for everyone. In working together, they need to become more effective than they currently are. That is what the aim of EU reform should be.
After the Holyrood elections, we can now decide on 23rd June 2016 whether to leave the European Union or stay in it. Whichever way the referendum goes, it will affect all the nations of the United Kingdom, and also the peoples of the EU.
Everywhere in Europe people are becoming increasingly conscious of their national heritage. This can be inspiring if seen as what makes us unique and what we contribute to others. It is off-putting if it leads us to pull up the drawbridge against our friends and neighbours.
Most people in Europe want us to stay, and have said so. This is for positive reasons, that they value our practicality and openness. One example is our experience of Free Trade in an open economy, much needed to complete the Single Market. Another is our sense of fair play, treating others as we would wish to be treated.
Europe is in many ways more democratic than the UK. This can be seen in the EU’s long-winded decision-making processes which aim at consensus in everything. They accept that we will not be part of any United States of Europe, if such a thing ever happens. They have agreed opt outs for all sorts of things, including now for the Euro. They are dictating nothing, contrary to tabloid myth. This point needs explaining, which I will do in my next blog.