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Analysis

Nothing funny about May’s cold war with Edinburgh

by Luke Lythgoe | 08.08.2018

Two years since becoming prime minister, and Theresa May still hasn’t managed to convince Edinburgh that her Brexit is worth backing.

In a performance that is becoming more tedious and repetitive than a bad show on the Edinburgh Fringe, May’s latest visit north of the border yesterday was greeted again with familiar sceptical sounds from Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon. The SNP leader correctly diagnosed the prime minister’s Chequers plan as “dead” and urged May to put forward a “plan B”.

Sturgeon also warned of the “catastrophic” consequences of either Brexiting with no deal or with “very, very little information about the future relationship” – a so-called blind Brexit. “We cannot simply take a step off that Brexit cliff-edge next March without knowing what comes next,” she said.

Sturgeon continues to back the idea of Scotland’s staying in the EU single market as the “least damaging” option. But if she’s really concerned about the impending Brexit cliff-edge, surely it’s time she upped her game and called for a People’s Vote?

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Westminster and Holyrood are currently locked in a legal cold war over how powers devolved to Scotland should be transferred as the UK leaves the EU. In May, MSPs refused to give consent to May’s EU Withdrawal Bill, which Sturgeon has called a “naked power grab”. An alternative Scottish version is being challenged in the Supreme Court by the UK government. Judges have retired to consider the “complicated” case, and are not expected to issue a judgement for several weeks.

May’s response to Scottish concerns yesterday ranged from pally soundbites (“a good deal for the UK is a good deal for Scotland”) to cold economic facts (“from Scotland’s point of view, their trade within the UK’s internal market is worth four times their trade with the EU”). Of course the overriding economic fact is that Scotland’s trade would be even better if the prime minister wasn’t pursuing her car-crash Brexit plan.

May’s unlikely to convince the bulk of Scottish parliamentarians or indeed the voters who elected them. Economic analysis has shown Scotland is set to lose £16 billion in a worst-case Brexit scenario. Even the fallback of staying in the single market will cost Scots £688 per head.

Meanwhile Brexiters such as Michael Gove – raised in Aberdeen, a city which will be hit particularly hard by leaving the EU – insist Brexit has made the Union “stronger than ever”. That is clearly nonsense. It risks tearing the UK apart.

If that all sounds like a bad joke, people should come to the rally for a People’s Vote in Edinburgh on Saturday August 18, and say so.

Edited by Quentin Peel

One Response to “Nothing funny about May’s cold war with Edinburgh”

  • Bring on a trade war with an independent Scotland and May’s Little Britain, no energy exports from Scotland and the lights go out across England, gas and oil shortages from stopping Scottish North Sea landings on Teeside will further decimate Little Britain’s economy while Scotland will maintain its EU links as a full member or via EFTA and all the associated world trade benefits. Little Britain will end up reliant on the crumbs from Trump’s table and fracking the hell out of England. Enjoy Ms May’s trade war threat it is as empty as her Brexit claims.