WHAT DOES DAVID CAMERON’S EU SPEECH MEAN FOR SCOTLAND?
David Cameron’s speech on Britain’s relationship with the European Union will be one for the history books, remembered for his promise that if he is Prime Minister after the next general election in 2015, there will be a referendum two years after that.
This will be on whether Britain stays as part of the European Union under renegotiated terms or if it goes it alone and joins the likes of Norway, Iceland or Switzerland.
However, there is another referendum due in the British Isles much sooner than the one in the news this week – that of independence for Scotland. The arguments surrounding the EU referendum will be familiar to our ears and ones we’ll hear more of as both referenda are debated. “We are stronger as a Union than apart”, “decisions are made miles away without our say that affect us all”, “staying together ensures jobs and prosperity”, “no one in recent times has had a say on whether they want this union.”
Some will argue that the new Conservative Party stance on the European Union will mean an inherent weakening of the case for Scotland to remain in the UK. After all, one of the strongest arguments for the continuing union between Scotland and England was that if Scotland voted to leave, they would need to enter the EU as a new member state with commitments to join the Euro, Schengen and all. If the UK might leave the European Union in 2017 anyway, then this argument crumbles. Yes Scotland, the official campaign for Scottish independence has already latched onto this fact and this issue was already raised by an SNP MP at the first session of Prime Minister’s Questions following his EU speech.
However, the reasons surrounding Scotland’s independence have not simplified, but become much more complex. The questions surrounding a possible Scottish exit – with a former UK in the current EU – have already been discussed at length. But David Cameron’s speech has raised many more, with the various permutations involving the UK or Scotland and England, and the EU enough to keep political journalists in secure employment for the foreseeable future.
As we approach the as yet unknown Scottish Independence Referendum date in Autumn 2014, these arguments could clarify and allow the people of Scotland to make clear and well informed decisions on these matters of monumental proportions which will affect future generations for years to come.
However, with the fate of Britain in the EU now more unknown than ever before and the conflicting voices for and against independence in whatever form now reaching a greater prominence and creating more and more noise on the issue – there is a danger people of Scotland will opt for the simplest answer and say to the UK ‘no thanks pal’