The strange world of Nicola Sturgeon

When your only tangible policy is calling for a referendum on Scottish independence, losing said referendum should send a message to pack up and go. Not so with the Scottish National Party (SNP) however: like Lazarus himself the party refuses to lie down and stay dead, writes Gary Cartwright.

Nicola Sturgeon, current leader of the SNP has decided that the "once in a generation" referendum her party lost in 2014 was not enough, and like remainers demanding a rerun of the 2016 Brexit referendum on the basis that some voters have since died, or Donald Trump declaring he won last year's presidential election because he is deranged, the old gal wants to give it another go.

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During the run-up to the 2014 vote then SNP Leader Alex Salmond declared that a Scotland free of English rule would remain in the EU as an independent nation. His "advisers" had told him this was possible, despite statements by then European Commission president and former Maoist leader (it's true!) José Manuel Durão Barroso confirming that Scotland would have to reapply on the grounds that it was only in the bloc at all by virtue of being a part of the United Kingdom.

Salmond continued to repeat the deception throughout the campaign.

Its worth considering what membership of the EU would mean for an independent Scotland.

First of all, all aspiring members are obliged to adopt the acquis communautaire, the "accumulated legislation, legal acts, and court decisions which constitute the body of European Union law."

This means also committing to prepare to adopt the Euro, and signing up to the Schengen Agreement, opening its borders to all EU citizens, including migrant workers.

The day of the exemption is over.

Ireland, like the UK, opted out of Schengen, which is why there is no hard border between the two. Scotland would be required to erect a hard border, complete with customs posts and passport checks.

Approximately 20% of Scots live in England, around 800,000, with another 50,000 in Wales and Northern Ireland. They would require work and residency permits unless they chose to return to the newly "free" Scotland where unemployment currently stands at 4.5%. This is actually slightly lower than the UK average of 4.9%, but a figure that would rocket with the triumphant return of free Scots and EU migrant workers prepared to undercut the indigenous workforce, pushing the welfare bill up significantly.

At the moment, tax revenue generated in Scotland amounts to about £66 billion, however it's public spending is running around £81 billion, the £15 billion shortfall being made up by a subsidy from London. I am sure Nicola Sturgeon looks forward to the day Scots are free from this subsidy.

The £15 billion deficit represents 8.6% of Scotland's gross domestic product (GDP), a shortfall that is steadily rising. That compares to a total UK deficit of 2.5% of GDP.

The £66 billion, incidentally, includes tax revenue from North Sea oil and gas, which is lower than might be imagined, falling by more than £600m from £1.4 billion in 2018-19 to £724 million in 2019-20.

Cowdenbeath Rail Bridge 4627

The SNP, it has to be said, has an excellent manifesto when it comes to the environment, as befits a country of astonishing natural beauty, not counting Cowdenbeath of course, which has to be seen to be disbelieved. (Cowdenbeath's Wikipedia page showcases such important tourist attractions as Cowdenbeath rail bridge and the Mossmorran Petrochemical Plant, which are about as good as it gets.)

The SNP also has an impressive track record on delivering renewable energy.

But what impresses the people of south-west England is the SNP's refusal to host nuclear weapons on Scottish soil.

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This would mean relocating the Royal Navy's massive submarine base at Faslane, affecting the livelihoods of around 4,000 civilian staff at the site, and an estimated 5,000 extra jobs linked to the base in the supply chain and local economy in Argyll.

Given the Scottish Government’s rec­ord on creating jobs in the sectors that are held up as an alternative to Trident such as so-called green jobs this is nothing short of a campaign for mass unemployment. Where does it stop? We are making tubes for the Trident re­newal programme at Rosyth. Is that work and those jobs to go?

GMB trades union Scottish secretary Gary Smith.

A possible relocation of the nuclear deterrent to to Milford Haven, a natural deep water port in Pembrokeshire, Wales has been discussed, but might be prohibitively expensive. Devonport naval base at Plymouth however already has huge excess capacity, as well as deep underground storage facilities for nuclear weapons.

Poseidon And Typhoon

Such a move would also necessitate bringing the Royal Air Force station at St. Mawgan, just outside Newquay (the best surfing in Europe!), back to full operational capacity, as the Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft need to be near to the submarines they protect. These are currently based at Lossiemouth, at Moray, Scotland, meaning more jobs transferred to the south-west of England, and lots of extremely happy airmen.

In a region largely dependent on tourism and light agriculture all those extra jobs would be most welcome, and would help rejuvenate Plymouth itself. If Nicola Sturgeon is really serious about independence she should give the people of Devon and Cornwall a vote, it'll be a landslide.

But what she is really gambling on of course, is that either the despised English will continue to subsidise an independent Scotland, and to employ its people, or the EU will pour structural funds in the country.

That's one helluva gamble!

Image (Cowdenbeath rail bridge): By Chemical Engineer - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

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Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright is publishing editor and Brussels correspondent of EU Today.

An experienced journalist and author, he specialises in environment, energy, and defence.

He also has more than 10 years experience of working as a staff member in the EU institutions, working with political groups and MEPs in various policy areas.

Gary's latest book WANTED MAN: THE STORY OF MUKHTAR ABLYAZOV: A Manual for Criminals on How to Avoid Punishment in the EU is currently available from Amazon

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