Rick Campbell: A Scottish veto on Brexit is the answer to all of Theresa May’s constitutional problems


Writer Rick Campbell says Scotland may have a predicament on its hands over Brexit and indyref 2

IN the days immediately following the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, the threat of a Scottish veto on the ability of the Westminster government to introduce the necessary legislation was widespread. 

It was initially attributed to Nicola Sturgeon and, despite rejection of the position by the SNP (and others), the interpretation was carried by mainstream media alongside quotes from everyone who was asked saying it wasn’t possible.

But the possibility of a veto pervades. It is appealing to everyone who is seeking a way to prevent the UK from leaving the EU. It chimes with most people’s understanding of the legislative framework. 

It follows groupthink understanding about how democracy works. It would – importantly – be two fingers to the Brexiteers in a way that many would find unpalatable.

In recent weeks this has developed into the principle that the prime minister lacks the mandate to take Scotland out of the single market.

The Scottish Government will only hold a second referendum in the short to medium term if it can secure the right to remain in the EU on its own terms (without this, there seems little point). 

This would appeal to the majority of those who voted Yes in 2014, and a tangible number of those who voted to remain part of the UK last time but consider membership of the EU to be at least as important than membership of the UK.

If Scotland has a veto on Brexit, this would naturally disappear when Scotland leaves the UK. A veto – preventing our friends and neighbours leaving the EU – would no longer exist. 

We in Scotland would therefore, effectively, be asked to vote for rUK to leave the EU. This would be a desperately bitter pill to swallow for Scots who consider the EU to be as important as the SNP claims – yessers old and new, who believe in the EU, would not vote for independence in those circumstances.

So Scotland would vote to remain in the UK a second time. If there is anything that all parties can agree on, it is that a second No vote would kill off independence for a generation.

Scotland would then veto Brexit and UK would remain in Europe. It would be next to impossible for the SNP government to take any other path. Nicola Sturgeon and Scotland – not Theresa May and the Tories – would bear the brunt of Brexiteer anger. 

The twin threats to the status quo of UK independence from Europe and Scottish independence from the UK would be dealt with in one fowl swoop, and the Conservative government would have done so by acquiescing to a second indyref, and by avoiding enraging their electorate.

All of this requires a lot of water to pass under the bridge, however the principle stands. Scottish independence may be the best way to remain in the EU, however it we hedge our bets by pursuing other paths we could well become unstuck.

Picture courtesy of Scottish Government

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