It’s an unfashionable view in the wake of the Brexit campaign, but I tend to trust experts.
I like to hear from people who know more than I do about complex issues, because it helps me make an informed decision about my family’s future.
I listened to experts during the Scottish independence referendum of 2014, and I voted No. There were questions that were not properly addressed by the Yes side, and those to do with currency, pensions, the economy and – most importantly for me – the EU swayed my decision. I can now see that experts on both sides of the debate could have done a bit better with their accuracy.
Through the Spring of 2016, I listened to numerous experts on the subject of the UK’s leaving the EU. Questions about the value of our currency, the impact on business and trade, and the loss of the UK’s influence in the wider world were conclusively answered – there would be serious damage if the UK left the EU. EU leaders also told us exactly what would happened if we left, and so far, they’re sticking to their word.
Luckily for Scotland, the EU seems to have softened on its 2014 view of an independent Scotland joining the EU. Spain won’t veto our membership, and the European Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator has said that the EU needs Scotland. While I understand this is no guarantee, there is a good chance Scotland would be allowed to join the EU as we already meet EU regulations. If we stay in the UK, we are guaranteed to leave the EU with a much worse deal than the one we have now, and the serious damage the experts warned about will come to pass.
At the time of writing, the UK’s national debt is £1.851trillion. This debt is increasing by just over £5,000 per second. If Scotland relies on revenue from the rUK, this spiralling debt is an argument for leaving rather than staying in the UK when Brexit is about to increase the national debt by £220billion, reduce the tax pot by up to £66billion a year, and cause a further 9.5% drop in GDP. When this occurs – and it will – what happens to Scotland’s ‘block grant’? Will the Scottish Government be able to continue offsetting Tory austerity? Or will every Scottish citizen suffer the ‘turbo-austerity’ No voters now assure me will happen with independence?
It’s a serious act of self-delusion to believe Scotland won’t suffer catastrophically from the UK’s decision to leave the single market. So asking me to fret about Scotland’s reliance on England for support and trade when England is about to wreck the economy and drag the rest of the UK down with it is a lot like warning me about the blisters I’ll get on my feet if I insist on running around a minefield rather than following the Brexiteers straight through it.
The old arguments just don’t work any more. There is no status quo upon which to base an argument for staying. Leaving the EU without a trade deal will have catastrophic consequences for Scotland. Currency, pensions, a central bank, and a buoyant economy can be sorted. These are the things Scotland can and should control as an independent country. What Scotland cannot control is having its largest trading partner and so-called benefactor commit political and economic suicide.
It won’t be easy, but I’ll take the possibilities of an independent Scotland over the probabilities of a grim Brexit Britain any day. I’m okay with accepting sore feet if it means I don’t lose a leg or worse. I’m willing to run the extra distance around the field to avoid the landmines, and I don’t mind gaining a few blisters as I go.