EU membership more important than being part of UK, says SNP man Skene
Maintaining EU membership is more important to Scotland than being part of the UK, according to former SNP election candidate Danus Skene.
He believes the vote to leave the EU is an “unqualified catastrophe” that has left the country reeling in confusion as people realise there is not a “plan B”.
In a document compiled after last month’s Brexit vote, Mr Skene expresses his view that an internationalist Scotland needs to be in the EU and ditch the union. He asks: “What after all, is the UK for?”
However, he is not convinced that the SNP would be able to win an “IndyRef” in the short-term and predicts that a second referendum could not be held until about 2021. “Anything earlier risks the fatal outcome of a second failure”.
In the 4,800-word essay penned in the aftermath of the Leave campaign’s victory, Mr Skene explains the reason for his gloomy outlook.
“My own view is that if the Brexit decision is catastrophic, that is for political reasons. As an economic decision it is merely bloody stupid.
“At the national level of overall economic performance, it is hard to see how Brexit can do anything other than damage.”
And he blasted the “act of political blindness” that led to the EU exit door driven by a “Little England” mentality that stood in the way of Scotland’s internationalist ambitions.
He wrote: “Here in Scotland, it is hard not to see the Leave movement as a despairing act of English nationalism. Can we please leave global realities? Little England will be green and pleasant with cricket, warm beer and cucumber sandwiches. The responsibilities of the imperial past and the global refugee present can be sealed away.
“We Scots are desperate to join the world, but find ourselves facing a status as colonial subjects of an isolationist England.”
The 72-year-old also had disparaging words for the London political system which he said had left the UK without leadership after the Brexit vote shocked the establishment.
In contrast, north of the border, he said, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was showing “real leadership” and praised her for attracting cross-party support in her bid to argue for Scotland’s place in the EU.
Even so, he concedes that her attempts to explore “all possible routes” to staying in the EU will be dogged with difficulty – not least because “the referendum was a UK referendum” not a Scottish one.
While he believes Scotland could negotiate an agreement Mr Skene admitted it “would be complex, and independence would be hugely simpler”.
“It is hard to see how Scotland can be kept in the EU other than by asserting independence… Of course, London politicians would oppose that, but an independence vote would have to be respected in the same way that the Brexit vote is apparently going to be generally accepted.
“Scottish Tories are committed unionists, and the argument at the centre of their position is that the British Union is hugely more important to Scotland than the European Union. I don’t think a majority of Scots think that any more. Jettisoning the UK is a worthwhile price for European membership. What, after all, is the UK for?”
Either way, he said, the next step must be for the Holyrood administration to play its part in negotiations once the UK starts its moves to leave the European Union.
He told this newspaper he is convinced that member states would welcome continued Scottish membership of the EU.
“Scotland’s politicians, and more importantly, Scotland’s people, are committing to the view that membership of the EU is of value to this country. The next step must be to ensure that the Scottish government participates in the Brexit negotiation process and makes our views clear…
“I think that Brexit terms affecting Scotland differently from the rest of the UK could be negotiated as part of an overall ‘Section 50 package’. But it would be complex, and independence would be hugely simpler.
“Distinct Scottish membership of the EU might involve a re-application by a new state after Brexit. If our membership is to be continuous, then that will require an independence referendum during the Brexit negotiation period, with Scottish membership being dealt with as part of the overall UK Brexit package.
“Whatever the route, I am convinced Scottish membership would be welcome to other countries.”