Will Brexit be blocked?

Unprepared Government is paralysed. Need for an all-party transitional cabinet with vision to steer it through

Democracy has delivered. The UK as a whole has spoken. It’s Brexit. Not everyone likes it, and the enemy within is plotting to obstruct it.

Prime minister Cameron and Chancellor Osborne are tight-lipped, Cameron appearing only to announce his resignation sometime soon, but not soon enough. Osborne threatened a vicious emergency austerity budget if the country voted Leave, and people now want to know what to expect. He has rather belatedly announced that he will do “everything I can” to make Brexit work, but who believes it? The ruling Conservative Party is in turmoil as hopefuls jockey for vacant positions.

New Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn faces a move by Blairites to oust him for not trying hard enough in the Remain campaign. Half his shadow cabinet have resigned in a huff. EU freaks among them are saying the referendum result was only “advisory” and should be voted down by Parliament. He has appointed a raft of new members to his team.

But the real menace is Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister. A majority in Scotland voted to remain in the EU. She announced:

The Remain vote in Scotland was won by a campaign that was positive about the EU and about the benefits of migration. Scotland has voted to renew its reputation as an outward looking, open and inclusive country. Our business community can be reassured that as of now we remain firmly in the EU…. We will take all possible steps and explore all options to secure Scotland’s continuing place in the EU and in the single market in particular.

In flat-out rebellious mode she says she will seek talks with the EU institutions and its member states, including the earliest possible meeting with the President of the European Commission. “The Scottish Government will begin to prepare the required legislation to enable a new independence referendum – if and when Parliament so decides.”

Some Scottish politicians claim that the EU referendum result was undemocratic or anti-democratic. The referendum was a UK-wide plebiscite. Scots whether living in Scotland, England, Wales or Northern Ireland were voting as UK citizens about the UK’s future.

SNP plans to jump Scotland out of the frying pan into the EU fire

Sturgeon regards the situation as “uncharted territory” and claims there are no rules. She’s wrong. Scotland is not a free agent and is subject to the rules of the United Kingdom union. What she is intending might not even be legal. Worse still, she doesn’t seem to care about other people’s democratic rights. The 38 percent minority of Scots who voted to leave the EU nevertheless have a right as United Kingdom citizens to expect the Scottish government – a devolved administration within the United Kingdom – to accept the overall result with good grace and act in the nation’s collective best interest. The SNP’s 2015 general election manifesto pledged: “The SNP will use our influence at Westminster to help deliver positive change for the benefit of ordinary people, not just in Scotland, but across the UK.” Right now Ms Sturgeon and Scotland’s 59 MPs in Westminster should be focused on how to make Brexit work for the benefit of all the UK’s citizens, not spending taxpayers’ money hatching schemes to frustrate the sovereign will of the people.

Her threat of a second independence referendum will hang like a sword of Damocles over the whole UK and blight progress towards unity and prosperity. Scots should be playing an energetic part in that crucial national effort.

And her desire for open-door immigration could result in border controls at Carlisle, Berwick and other crossing points into England.

The problem underlying this defiance is long-running. Deceitful governments at Westminster have treated Scotland abominably for decades.  Consequently the mood north of the border has allowed Scottish Nationalists to flourish and bludgeon Scots relentlessly into accepting the SNP’s infatuation with the EU, and this has led Sturgeon to now overreach herself and act as if she were leader of an independent country when she clearly isn’t. “It may be that the only way for Scotland to protect its membership of the EU is to become an independent country,” she says on social media, knowing full well that Scotland itself is not a member state of the EU. Coupled to this is the SNP’s continuing commitment to cut itself adrift from the United Kingdom despite failing to win a majority for independence only two years ago. Its determination to remain subservient to EU bureaucracy in all the more unfathomable. Why such yearning for the suffocating embrace of Brussels? Why does Sturgeon so passionately wish to re-join a cartel of governments that make their laws in private and have a combined debt of 10.3 trillion euros?

It has to be said that Westminster brings this northern grief on itself. But is that a good enough excuse for dragging Scotland into a busted project that many believe is on its last legs?

Sturgeon is married to her party’s chief executive Peter Murrell. She looks unassailable. In contrast Jeremy Corbyn is under intense pressure from traitors but behaving like a gentleman. He has written to Labour Party members saying: “I will be making clear to both Remain and Leave voters that Labour will fight for the exit negotiations to be accountable to an open, transparent parliamentary process. And we’ll do everything to secure the best deal for the people of Britain at every stage.” I hate to see a good man fighting a losing battle and drowning in the sort of cesspit Labour has become. As I’ve suggested before, he ought to branch out on his own, taking his huge army of supporters with him.

It seems our Conservative Government didn’t consider the country would vote this way and consequently has no ready plan for taking Brexit forward and no vision of a future outside the EU.  It’s a shocking lack of diligence and a gross dereliction of duty. In the circumstances it would be better, surely, for MPs to insist on an all-party Transitional Cabinet pooling the best talent. The SNP should be part of it and help focus on the challenges and opportunities, and safeguard workers’ rights and other issues of concern.

It would clearly serve Scotland best if Nicola Sturgeon were to shelve talk of a second Scottish independence referendum until we see what can be achieved in a new relationship with our European trading partners and the EU’s security and environment agencies. We should also pause to see what happens to the EU itself, many of whose other member states are restless for change or exit. When Sturgeon says “jump”, do the Scots really want to leap from the frying pan into the fire?

Stuart Littlewood’s book Radio Free Palestine, with Foreword by Jeff Halper, can now be read on the internet by visiting radiofreepalestine.org.uk. Read other articles by Stuart.