As the recent policy paper from Friends of Europe clearly illustrates, the anti-independence campaign’s position on Scotland and the EU was (is?) totally nonsensical. It denied two things that we know about the EU – that it is expansionist, and that it is pragmatic. The UK Government, the British parties and the abominable Better Together campaign all dishonestly sought to portray the situation as if it was a matter of the European Commission (EC) mechanistically applying rigid rules. This was just one of the multitude of lies that were foisted upon the people of Scotland by the British establishment in order to secure a No vote.
There was never the remotest possibility of Scotland being cast out of the EU after a Yes vote; its people arbitrarily stripped of their EU citizenship; every treaty, convention, protocol and agreement declared null and void, regardless of any benefit that might accrue to the EU from Scotland’s membership.
As well as being fundamentally dishonest, the British nationalists’ position on this issue was as confused, contradictory, inconsistent and incoherent as the rest of their propaganda. They would assert that Scotland would be thrown out of the EU if we voted Yes. Then, when it was pointed out that there was no mechanism by which this might happen, they would claim that Scotland would be voluntarily relinquishing its membership, until somebody mentioned the fact that this was actually the opposite of Scottish Government policy, at which point they’d simply go back to insisting that expulsion and exclusion would be automatic on account of the rules that they were never actually able to identify.
When pressed on the nature of these rules, they would frantically back-pedal and change tack to saying that the rules meant that Scotland’s membership of the EU would be subject to negotiation. This would be immediately followed by them denying that there would be any actual negotiation and that Scotland would simply have ta accept whatever terms the EU decided to impose, because… well… because it’s Scotland and everybody knows that Scotland is weak and ineffectual and unable to stand up for itself without Nanny Britannia holding its hand. Err… that would be the “weak and ineffectual” Scotland that had just successfully negotiated its way out of a a British state notorious for jealously clinging to all its “territories”.
Amazingly, they would sometimes assert that Scotland would be expelled from the EU whilst simultaneously warning that we would nonetheless be bound by all the rules and responsibilities that only come with full membership, while being denied any of the benefits that members enjoy.
It was all just as mad as it sounds.
As I wrote at the time,
The SNP approached this looking to discover what was the most probable scenario. They looked at the options available to the EU and weighed them rationally to determine the most credible position. A position which others taking a similarly reasoned approach have also arrived at. Their approach was entirely pragmatic. They did not adopt a position driven by ideology or partisan interest and then go looking for ways to justify that position. But their opponents did exactly that. How else to explain the extraordinary nonsense they’ve been coming out with.
Friends of Europe have taken a similarly rational, dispassionate approach in drafting their policy paper. Rather than asking, as the anti-independence campaign did, “What’s the scariest scenario we can concoct taking account of nothing other than our need to concoct a scary scenario?”, Friends of Europe asked more or less the same question as the SNP did – “What is likely to happen given what we know of the EU, the EC, and the practicalities of the situation?”. Their answer makes a mockery of everything Better Together said about Scotland and the EU.
Yet again, we see that the No vote was won on a false prospectus. Fortunately, we have the right to rectify this by holding another referendum. With access to analysis such as that provided by Friends of Europe and many others, and being aware of how they were deceived previously, voters will be less susceptible to any repetition of British nationalist lies. They will surely seize upon the opportunity to rectify their past error and bring their government home where it belongs.