Would it lead to a second referendum on Scottish independence if Scotland voted differently from those south of the border? To discuss this John Harrison is joined by David Coburn, head of UKIP in Scotland and John Edward of the Stronger In campaign in Scotland.
Overhanging the issue of Brexit in Scotland is that of Scottish independence. UKIP’s David Coburn believes that Scotland, along with the rest of the UK will vote for Brexit – which would, of course, not provide the SNP with their mandate for a second independence referendum. Coburn states:
‘Economically it would be brilliant for Scotland as once we get out of the EU so much power will come back from Brussels to Edinburgh… We want power over our fishing back, over our power generation back, control over our farming and our industry.’
On the other hand, the Stronger In campaign’s John Edward rejects Coburn’s position as a ‘political gesture’ which sacrifices ‘all the systems of cooperation that we’ve had for the last 45 years’. Edward is adamant that far from flourishing after a Brexit, Scotland would be ‘better, safer and stronger’ remaining in the EU.
Coburn goes on to suggest that the EU is currently ‘a huge corporate scam’ and that more money can be made lobbying in Brussels at the moment than Washington:
‘It’s big business working hand in glove with a multinational bureaucracy whose, quite frankly, whole purpose is to expand the number of bureaucrats working for it.’
So, is Scotland just a ‘net loser’ we ask John Edward?
‘[No], manifestly it gains. If you look at the development in Scotland over the last forty years with the inevitable end of the industrial spell of coal and steel in Scotland… as the developed world has come up the traditional industries have died away and other ones have been replaced… there’s been a whole system which we’ve been part of during that time which have made it easier for Scots to go abroad, trade abroad and work abroad.’
So what about security? How do Scots view the migrant crisis and the EU? Harrison suggests there isn’t the same negative attitude towards immigrants as can be found south of the border.
‘We have good relations with our ethnic minorities in Scotland, the reason for this is we don’t have so many of them… In Scotland if we had the same number of migrants as in England people would be screaming about it here too…We have more and more people coming up here and we can’t afford it. If we have the health service completely wiped out by too many people taking out and not paying in we’ll end up with no health service.’
John Edward contests this however, stating that what everyone forgets is that people who come here are workers and by definition they pay taxes and pay into the National Health Service. He also notes that:
‘More people are coming to the UK from outside the EU than inside the EU. Those people that are coming from the older member states like France, Germany and Italy than the newer ones but people don’t complain about the streets being full of French.’
So what happens if Scotland votes differently from the rest of the UK regarding Brexit? John Edward predicts there is more pro-EU sentiment north of the border…
‘The likelihood of a second referendum after Brexit is far more unlikely than it was three years ago.’
This of course goes against what Nicola Sturgeon maintains, that indeed Scots would be entitled to a second referendum if it voted differently. Coburn here points out that if Britain left the EU and Scotland wanted to rejoin the EU, it would not be easy as according to Jean-Claude Juncker.
‘Scotland would leave with England, and it would have to apply separately, after Turkey, and also accept the Euro.’
Edward states, however, that politically, there is a broad consensus for remaining in the EU, with only 2 Scottish politicians advocating Brexit.
The conversation then turns to the subject of defence, where the future of British defence policy under a Brexit is debated with Coburn declaring ‘There will never be another war in Europe’ to which Edward comments that ‘It would come as a surprise to the countries of former Yugoslavia that there would be no more wars in Europe.’
War in Europe is, of course, a hypothetical scenario, but nevertheless one cannot forget that the EU was born out of two world wars. It remains to be seen the extent to which that affects British public opinion today.