The comments by new Chancellor, Philip Hammond, that he cannot envisage a scenario where Scotland has a different relationship with the European Union from the rest of the UK stands in stark contrast to the comments by David Mundell, Secretary of State for Scotland and the only Tory MP north of the border.
Mundell has stated in the past few days that he would be open to a different deal for Scotland if possible.
Prime Minister May’s Government has its work cut out in getting the UK out of the EU, whilst ensuring a deal that satisfies Scotland’s desire to maintain close links. For Hammond therefore to rule out the possibility of a different arrangement for Scotland at this early stage is more than a little foolhardy.
While the Prime Minister has stated that “Brexit means Brexit”, for Scotland “Remain means Remain”, and the Scottish Government would be doing a great disservice to the vast majority of those who voted Remain north of the border if it did not secure some sort of deal that respected the aspirations of this group.
May and the new Brexit Secretary, David Davis, should engage as quickly and positively as possible with Scotland, with the First Minister, with the Scottish Government and with Scottish MPs, respecting the fact that Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain.
The Scottish Government should also clearly be involved at the heart of the negotiations, but that requires the UK Government not to reject the option of a different arrangement for Scotland with the EU, as Hammond seems already foolishly to have done.
Which is the least diplomatic and statesmanlike politician you can think of that could clearly never be appointed as Foreign Secretary? Oh, wait...
Boris Johnson said the US President had an ancestral dislike of the British empire, black people were “piccaninnies”, the Turkish President was a “wankerer” and Papua New Guineans had been “cannibals”. Who better to be promoted British Foreign Secretary in charge of MI6?
Let us not forget that this Cameron achievement of a “remarkable growth in jobs” was also the time when half a million more children found themselves living in poverty, despite the majority of them having at least one parent in work.
Wednesday's editorial claimed: “While Ms May and the Cabinet are working their way through the most important negotiations in decades there will, to all intents and purposes, be no parliamentary opposition to hold them to account. Whoever is to blame for that – plotters or Corbynistas – that is the scale of the disservice the Labour Party is doing to the British people.”
I reluctantly, but realistically, have to agree with this observation. The Labour Party and, in particular its so-called leader, should be ashamed of his abject failure to lead and motivate during the referendum campaign. To blame David Cameron for his appalling failed gamble is one thing, but to use this as a fig leaf to hide Jeremy Corbyn’s woeful impersonation of a prominent campaign leader at the time he was needed most by Britain is both farcical and tragic. Corbyn should be ashamed of his performance and if he fails either to accept or realise that then he is deceiving himself and is not the leader that either his party or the country needs.
As I understand it, once Article 50 is invoked, the UK is on the way out of the EU. No turning back, no second thoughts; whatever the result of the negotiations or even if negotiations are inconclusive, at the end of two years, the UK ceases to be a member of the EU. Theresa May does not have the option, therefore, as suggested by Sean O’Grady, of putting to the British people in a second referendum the outcome of the negotiations or remaining in the EU.
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