How does the Supreme Court Brexit ruling affect the campaign for Scottish Independence?

Today the  UK Supreme Court ruled that the UK parliament has to vote to approve Article 50 (the legislation which triggers the UK’s two year long divorce from the EU) which effectively means the government has to put forward a bill and MP’s vote on it. So will unelected peers in the House of Lords but the UK’s creaking constitution allows this. There’s also the trifling matter that the devolved countries of the UK (Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales) saw their court cases that Article 50 can’t be invoked without votes approving it in Cardiff, Belfast and Edinburgh thrown out.

At this point it’s best to read this splendid Iain McWhirter piece which explains this in detail but contains such information of importance I’m quoting a big chunk of it…

LEGISLATIVE consent may sound like another of those tiresome lawyer’s phrases; it’s anything but. Lack of it could stall Brexit, trigger an independence referendum or even break up the Union.

Legislative consent is what used to be called the Sewel Convention, under which the Scottish Parliament has a right to vote on actions of Westminster that impinge on its powers. Today, the UK Supreme Court will address whether or not Holyrood has a right of consent on Article 50, triggering Brexit.

The UK Government is adamant that it should not, and that the Scottish Parliament has no right to interfere. Anyway, the constitution is reserved to Westminster. Advocates of legislative consent, including the Scottish Government, argue that Holyrood certainly should have a say because Brexit will massively affect Holyrood’s powers. Under the Scotland Act 1998, Scottish legislation has to be in accordance with EU law, and this will end when the European Communities Act is repealed.

Moreover, in the Scotland Act 2016, the Sewel Convention was supposedly put on a “statutory basis”, as part of the post referendum “vow” on entrenching Holyrood’s powers. Most people believed this meant that there was now a legal obligation for Holyrood to give its assent to changes to its powers. But no.

The UK Government had inserted a weasel word into the Act. It says that “Westminster will not NORMALLY legislate with regard to devolved matters without the consent of the Scottish Parliament” Since Brexit is not “normal” then legislative consent doesn’t apply

Effectively this means this: The centre of political power in the UK is Westminster. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are essentially regions with glorified councils calling themselves ‘parliaments’ and ‘assemblies’. These can be swept aside because as McWhirter points out;

Under the Scotland Act 1998, Scottish legislation has to be in accordance with EU law, and this will end when the European Communities Act is repealed.

The Great Repeal Bill the Tories talk about will bring all EU legislation into UK law to be then kept or dumped depending upon whatever Westminster says. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that the devolved countries could find their own powers being taken back, or indeed, scrapped for central rule, and yes, the Northern Powerhouse plans to devolve power to big northern English areas is window dressing. Legal political power in the UK is at the discretion of Westminster who are not obliged to do anything the devolved governments (though really, they’re not governments) say which means all those solemn vows of 2014 meant nothing, or as McWhirter puts it;

Moreover, in the Scotland Act 2016, the Sewel Convention was supposedly put on a “statutory basis”, as part of the post referendum “vow” on entrenching Holyrood’s powers. Most people believed this meant that there was now a legal obligation for Holyrood to give its assent to changes to its powers. But no.

The UK Government had inserted a weasel word into the Act. It says that “Westminster will not NORMALLY legislate with regard to devolved matters without the consent of the Scottish Parliament” Since Brexit is not “normal” then legislative consent doesn’t apply. Ha, ha – Scots should have read the act more carefully.

Scotland had the chance to make it’s own successes and failures. It had the chance to make a future of its own. It didn’t, choosing instead to stay in the Union, yet that Union which promised ‘Scotland’s voice will be heard louder than ever before’ lied. It sold you a stinky kipper when you were expecting fresh salmon.

Essentially we’re at this stage…

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So what do we do about it? Well, some MPs are going to vote against invoking Article 50 but there won’t be enough thanks to the sheer lunacy of Jeremy Corbyn telling his MP’s to vote it through which hands the Tories a massive advantage because anyone who thinks they’ll be able to influence the Tories once Article 50 is invoked is a fool, or is someone who wants to leave the EU themselves. Forget that leaving will drive those people Labour say they speak for into virtual serfdom as the Brexiters vision of a tax haven emerges from the wreckage of Brexit. Outdated ideology is Corbyn’s mantra it seems which brings us to this point…

picard-double-facepalm-o

There’s not a lot of options on the table now. The ball is in Westminster’s court as to whether they take into account the Scottish Government’s Brexit proposals (hint: they won’t) but with elections in Northern Ireland looming the United Kingdom is under threat.

See, the thing is in 2014 there was a culmination of years of debate and argument which was won partly based upon Scotland’s EU membership with articles like this ensuring enough scares were given to coax people to vote for the safer, more secure option as after all, Westminster wouldn’t lie or disregard Scotland would they?

Guess where we are now?

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I asked the question what the Supreme Court ruling means for Scottish independence and for me, it’s very simple; it makes it essential. The ruling makes federalism impossible as after all, if federalism is to happen not only would England need broken up to deal with the inequalities in size (won’t happen) then Westminster would need to permanently give powers away so they can never be seized back and that isn’t going to happen. Essentially devolution is a scam. It’s like going on Poundland’s website and realising everything isn’t a pound.

A second referendum is essential not just for the democracy of Scotland, but for all the four countries of the UK. Forget the angry independence supporters talking of UDI or worse, as we win independence peacefully and legally or we forget it. We have to convince both people that voted no and people on the fence that Scotland as a country needs to make it’s own democratic decisions. My hope is if/when Scotland achieves independence it pulls the last block out of the entire broken British state which comes down crumbling like a giant game of Jenga. When it does, then something new and better can be created for the people of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, assuming of course we’ve not seen Irish unification by then.

Scotland is at a crossroads now. Patience is needed. There are diehard Unionists spitting flecks of rage and anger online as they know today is a turning point. They know that promises are meaningless as after all, the Supreme Court has shown this, so here’s the thing. Take today not as a day to get angry, but channel that anger into something useful. Do you know someone who voted No in 2014? Great, now talk to them rationally and ask them what they think of the ruling? Ask them if they’re happy their kids, or the generations after them, will be growing up with social justice and equality as things they read about in books? Know someone not sure what to do or showing no understanding of the connotations of today? Great, sit them down and go through it with them. Point out the issues. Ask them what they think.

Because if independence supporters don’t sell independence to no voters or those undecided (there will be those 25% or so who’ll never,ever vote for independence and they can be ignored or avoided) this is going to happen to the next generation, and the next and the next and the next. You get the idea.

There will never be a greater weapon in the armoury for independence than today. We can use it wisely. I suggest we do because we’re going to need it when a second referendum does happen, and it will. For now though, be patient and be calm. This is a long game and if it’s lost next time, it’s lost for generations.

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