5 November 2015

Brexit should not be decided by the ceaseless complaints of the Scots


Chris Deerin’s powerful piece on CapX lashing the Eurosceptics and warning that they will wreck Britain seems to have confused some supporters of the Out campaign. At the headquarters of the hardline conservative website Breitbart, where they begin the day with compulsory naked exercises and screenings of war films, I’m told, there was astonishment:

“CapX has come out for staying in the EU!”

“Has it? The whole site?”

“There’s an article calling Eurosceptics lunatics who will destroy the UK!”

“Perhaps they publish a range of views to stimulate debate and to inform and entertain readers?”


“Could that ever catch on?”

I’m a floating voter on the EU, leaning Out and more so every time I hear London-based pro-EU media grandees dismiss outers as stupid.

But Deerin makes a good point. The campaign is going to get extremely messy and nasty. The government’s troubled renegotiation has been left behind. The campaigns are already up and running.‎ And Scottish Unionists are warning that an Out vote threatens the Union, because the Scots will demand a second independence referendum immediately and reapply to join the EU.

At which point I say: sorry, enough with the obsessive Scottishness and the tiresome conviction that everything – the EU, Trident, tennis tournaments featuring Andy Murray, BBC weather maps – must be decided with reference to what Nationalist Scots will supposedly do, which is mainly bang on about it interminably. It is becoming extremely boring. You just have to look at the whining SNP, which is forever demanding more powers and issuing threats, but can’t or won’t use the powers it already has because it is just too feart.

The EU referendum centres on huge questions about European politics and world trade. The EU as constituted is a terrible mess that can’t do economics (look at the Euro) or protect borders (the migrant crisis). The idea that there is no alternative other than to be locked for ever in this failing set of arrangements which in their current format are less than 25 years old is an extraordinarily complacent and defeatist view.

Ah, say the Unionists: prospective “outers” sound just like the Nats who couldn’t answer basic questions on currency, oil and borders during the Scottish referendum. The anti-EU reponse – “it’ll be ok; stop using scare tactics; cheer up; why ‎do you hate Britain?” – is an echo of the Nat attack on Better Together.

There is something in that critique. But it’s a funny old world. Since the referendum in which the rest of the UK was incredibly nice to Scotland – begging it to stay – there has been yet more devolution and ceaseless complaints. On and on it has gone. After many years of being forced to listen to the SNP’s grievances, I suspect when it comes to the EU vote that there are many English voters who will no longer care about Scottish threats to leave the UK.

Iain Martin is Editor of CapX