Is a ‘Velvet Divorce’ possible here?

Independence: Breaking up does not always have to be bitter | HeraldScotland
There’s a snowball’s chance of Ms Sturgeon and Mr Johnson agreeing on a Czech-style Velvet Divorce: Image Herald

From Alasdair Galloway:

There is a particularly interesting blog post by Calton Jock this morning, discussing the “velvet divorce” in what used to be Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovakia:

 https://caltonjock.com/…/independence-whitehall…/ )

Comparing this to the situation in the UK just now, he concludes “If Czechs and Slovaks were able to separate in six months, surely Westminster and Holyrood can find a way to extract one the other in a similar time period?” The answer to that is “yes, well I suppose they could”. The problem is would they? For one thing the Westminster government is desperately trying to shoe horn the devolved UK of the noughties back into the sort of centralised UK that there was before. It therefore seems to me that the problem with Jock’s thesis is that “it needs two to tango”, “you always need a willing buyer and seller” and so on. Even if Scotland enthusiastically endorsed this approach, it would need the rest of the UK to do the same. This seems unlikely ?

However, I too have been intrigued by the velvet divorce over the last few years. While it seems unlikely that there would be the level of agreement and cooperation that there was in Czechoslovakia (and the absence of a sovereign Parliament under the control of either side is perhaps one reason), perhaps in the absence of this another process could perform a similar function (though perhaps more a “sandpaper divorce”?)

That process would be the collapse of the UK. The Johnson Gang like to portray the UK as big and strong (and tough) but is it? Or how big … etc? Let’s look at the constituent parts.

Northern Ireland is deeply unstable thanks to the agreement with the EU extracted from Westminster as a result of the Good Friday Agreement. International opinion (and especially in the US) is that Johnson messes with this at his peril. Yet at the same time the Unionist side protests about the “border in the Irish Sea”. At the same time, demographically at least, there never has been a better time to hold a border poll and secure a single country on the island of Ireland. What would the political impact of that be on British politics? Yet, it’s all there in an agreement which in effect is sacrosanct.

In Scotland the possibility of independence has been the defining issue for the last ten years, and the most recent poll suggests a return to a majority in favour of independence. Moreover, the data shows a clear majority in favour of independence in an age group less than 55. The effects of Brexit – sorer on Scotland than almost anywhere else in the UK – are just beginning to come into focus. The antics of Johnson and his chums become more ridiculous by the day, though they will have to go some to beat the bridge over the Irish Sea. We might not have international law on our side in the same way as the Irish, but opinion for independence is probably clearer.

Then there is Wales, which historically has perhaps been the UK nation with less desire to leave Mama England behind. But even here things are changing. Not only has the Labour led government there entered into an agreement with Plaid Cymru, but in the last year the Labour FM Mark Drakeford has made clear that he considers the current Union (which London is trying to reassemble) dysfunctional, and that it needs to be replaced by a more Confederal UK. That might not be quite the disjunction of Scottish independence, but it is heading in that direction. When Johnson says “No”, what does Drakeford do? Does he tug his forelock and say “very well PM”, or does he do business with his new Plaid comrades? Rather like the velvet divorce Drakeford needs the Westminster side to be a willing participant. What if, as seems likely, they aren’t?

In short the three other parts of the Union are gey shoogly, and if one went would the political disruption be the opportunity for the other nations to leave the Union? If, say, a border poll (guaranteed in international law) in Ireland resulted in the reunification of Ireland, could the UK survive? Perhaps the analogy then is the collapse of the USSR, when the failed coup against Gorbachev resulted in many of the constituent republics taking the chance to get out.

Of course much of this is conjecture against only a background of political reality. However, what it does point to is that the process of independence may follow a course more like chaos theory rather than rational political analysis.

20 thoughts on “Is a ‘Velvet Divorce’ possible here?

  1. Dream on about a velvet divorce
    Why
    Simply
    Not if but when Scotland vacates and walks out the matrimonial home that is Westminster
    Their is no doubt whatsoever that when a fiscal balance sheet on Assets/ liabilities is produced for England
    That State would be declared Bankrupt
    Requiring immediate and very onerous IMF bail outs just to be able to function on a daily basis
    This would involve demands that before any cash handed over that the following
    Immediate policies implemented
    Reduce all welfare benefits now
    Freeze state pensions now
    Stop all infrastructure spending Now
    Inc.of half built Hospitals
    Reduce Armed forces expenditure sensibly
    Prepare and submit a new fiscal framework and income / expenditure
    Plan for approval
    Once such executed then terms of loan ,repayment terms, Interest rates applicable and default penalties set
    Along with pre set staged draw downs of
    The capital sum borrowed set
    Current reasonable estimates of England,s balance is that liabilities exceed £ 7,000,000,000,000 over current Assets ( Scotland assets are included, withdraw these and then liabilities for England grow to at least £9 trillion instantly )
    That is 7 trillion and rising with little prospect of reducing in the new future
    In this scenario their is no possible way re entry to the EU would even be considered due the fact that England is well and truly a basket case,something England would be in very urgent need of

    It is more that possible that USA terminates with immediate effect the
    Trident Missile lease, on the grounds that
    The Lease holder has aggravated the Terms due to fiscal collapse and considered politically unstable
    Furthermore China,Russia along with a reluctant France will demand that England no longer hold a veto or a seat upon permanent UN security council
    And all the basis ” That substantial material permanent changes have occurred to the current UK permanent seat that is now untenable and a emergency session and vote now called for”
    Westminster is well and truly alert to and fully aware of all i speak
    Which speaks volumes as to their current actions and future ones when it comes to Scotland,s divorce
    They will fight tooth and nail to the bitter but inevitable losing end over these matters
    Why They have no choice now
    Brexit will be judged as the Ultimate Act of Folly that in all of history that a Nation
    (England) ever enacted
    They will find out rapidly that ” Take Back Control ”
    Actually turns out to be
    “We simply now must give up Any and All control in order to continue to survive
    As a stable Independently Governed Nation as we know it ”

    And all that is exactly

    Liked by 3 people

    1. “…Furthermore China,Russia along with a reluctant France will demand that England no longer hold a veto or a seat upon permanent UN security council…”

      What’s your source for this; it doesn’t seem particularly plausible to me? I’ve seen it suggested often enough in comments sections, but I think it’s just someone’s opinion, taken as read, then shared as fact. The problem is that would fly in the face of established convention.

      On dissolution of the Union, we automatically revert to the status quo ante, the signatories revert to their previous state; namely the Kingdom of Scotland and the Kingdom of England. Note: there will be no rUK, the Kingdom of England (KoE) will be compromised of England and its conquests; Wales and what it retains of Ireland.

      At this stage KoE (or whatever torturing of the language it brands itself) has a choice:

      – it can claim continuing nation status; the KoE would assume ALL assets, rights and privileges, along with ALL debts and liabilities, of the UK. If recognised, it would apply to all memberships and any associated privileges. That includes the permanent UNSC seat.

      – if it opts to hand Scotland a “divorce bill” (admiinistration costs nicking our oil and other revenues?), it can’t simultaneously claim to be a continuing state: all assets and liabilities would be shared. The Kingdom of England would join Scotland as a fledgling state.

      I don’t gamble, but I’d bet the farm and my vital organs that England will choose the first option.

      There are plenty of precedents, recent ones too; including Russia being the successor of the USSR. If Russia were to argue that Scotland going solo were grounds for denying KoE the UK’s seat, it would be arguing for its own removal from the UNSC.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Drew
        They are firmly my opinions
        Few people realise the massive shifts in the tectonic plates of geo political,economic and miltary matters
        That have been going on since Obama
        Reconfigured USA military attention to China
        UK closely roped into all this
        But as far as the West were concerned they were all too focused on the War on Terror
        Big Big mistake
        Both Russia and China woke up fast and spotted a wide open goalmouth
        Result
        Hypersonic missiles West has no credible defence against
        China now rapidly moving into 2nd generation development with successfull
        Construction and commissioning of supersoncic test tunnels
        This now enables them to load up their
        Existing and developing hypersonic weapons with Oven ready AI,Launch program of 1000 satellites through shallow to deep space which gives them ability to track and communicate guidance to the hypersonic weapons
        But more importantly totally negate US defences
        The USA failed miserably in constructing a similar wind tunnel and only very recently succeeded in launch from a aircraft after 6 miserable failures
        China can launch from Air,surface ships,submarine and land,all in a 100 % joined up manner to satellite and land based computer control systems
        They quickly woke up to fact that due to a speed of + 5 × mach, they required far larger on board computers
        So what did they do fast track AI, software, Aero dynamic alterations of missile and satellite launches
        Result Impossible for US to catch up now and will bankrupt them selves if they attempt to along with no guarantee of success
        There are many other examples of such in many other areas but mainly in
        Stealth Aircraft
        Stealth beating Radar systems
        Drone swarming
        Russia has new main battle tank and NATO admits it would be a suicidal act for their tanks to confront
        I monitor all this very closely
        And report as follows
        Senior military planners have only recently woke up to all this and as expected they are singularly failing to fully realise that they have firmly been checkmate with so little time to catch up
        And little do they realise bankruptcy if they do try seriously not only to catch up but checkmate China
        A fine example US now seriously considering purchase of EU Airbus refuel air tanker in order to increase the miserable operational range of F35 stealth fighters and in desperate negoiations with lockheed martin
        To see how quickly they can come up with 1 if not then its the EU one
        But just to demonstrate how bloody stupid they are
        They laughed and mocked upon commission to The PLAN air force the Chinese stealth J21 mighty Dragon fighter saying its air frame was far 2 heavy to be effective
        Well 10 yrs on from its launch here is what they find
        Operational distance twice that of F35 due to ability to carry extra fuel pods
        But US thought it was only to extend its range to push Aircraft carriers further out to sea
        Oh no it was not they realised the dependence of The F35 on refueling
        And China’s prime target are those highly
        Vulnerable air refuel tankers,piss easy targets
        In conjunction with this
        Their J21 now has 2 seater variant the purpose of which that 2nd pilot controls very sophisticated electronic jamming,on board radar and weapon command control targeting/launch
        The super heavy air frame allow fitting of special weapon pods and electronic systems
        All this is not done in a aggressive or expansionist manner but entirely one of defence only
        After all America started all this
        China has merely built a 2nd great defence that now ensures
        1.Enemy can only attack from a stand off
        Distance of 1200 miles
        2.If US and allies wish to penetrate the wall with any success then it has be by massive forces and numbers
        3.If US stupid enough to do so
        Then it will be impossible to escape back through the great wall without incurring unacceptable losses that would once and for all terminate US supremacy
        And that is exactly what effective clever warriors do
        The Chinese emperor who united the 6 provinces who wrote the art of warfare
        Finishes his book with
        “It is the most clever of warriors who wins the fight by merely placing his hand upon the sword”
        And far later on the Emperor who built the 1st Great Wall stated
        You can never prevent a stupid enemy
        From attacking you
        But you can ensure he does so with massive force in order to breach your defence
        But little realises he has unfortunately been let in,but shall never back out alive
        Modern China have followed both the Ancient Wisdom of past Emperors
        So So very few ever stop for a moment to
        Study and understand Chinese philosophy
        So in conclusion I strongly advise the higher echelons of The SNP to refrain from joining in the extremely dangerous,futile propaganda attacks orginating from US and their Lapdog in Westminster
        Such is utterly useless and totally counter productive
        So for now stay cleverly Neutral
        Because your bet is on the Wrong Horse
        Which actually is a tired old lame one and very donkey like in its braying actions
        How do you prevent war
        Answer
        You make sure your enemy never thinks they can win and if they do believe they
        Can
        Guarantee them horrendous losses from which they can NEVER recover But you CAN
        Over to you Jo and Boris

        Like

  2. If we do not plan for independence now, for example get the central bank and currency plan complete, a plan for the border, a draft constitution etc. etc. then chaos may indeed happen. Scexit indeed. Nicola needs to work on this now so that we are ready for work to implement a new state on day one after a vote.
    I feel that the U.K. may indeed collapse and England descend into severe naval gazing. Hopefully that will give them a modern Parliament without all the rubbish currently there.
    I enjoyed this article.

    Liked by 7 people

  3. In April 2019 I gave a lecture on Charles Rennie MacIntosh at the modernist Vila Tugendhat in Brno (Czech Republic) designed by Mies van der Rohe. Not many Czechs are aware that the breakup of the Czechoslovak Republic was secretly negotiated there.
    I did at the time ask if Tugendhat would be available for the negotiations to break up the UK.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Interesting. C. R. MacIntosh sadly died very poor, his work was rejcted by the English arts establisments, so he and his wife lived and worked in Italy mostly, i think he died in Italy.

      I had a friend from the Czech republic, a lovely woman who also loved living and working in Scotland. She wouldn’t be able to live and work in Scotland now because of England dragging us out of the EU with their Brexit. Brexit is utterly tragic for Scotland on so many levels, unless it can secure independence before the EngGov disempower Scotland even more.

      Liked by 4 people

  4. appreciate that UK Parliament claims Sovereignty but is that not just in relation to Queen Anne’s Sovereignty which the UK Parliament required her to relinquish in 1707?

    That sovereignty only related to her holding the Crown of England.

    It did not relate to Scotland, as its people has been Sovereign since the Declaration of Arbroath nearly 400 years before.

    So why/how can UK Parliament infer it has Sovereignty over the whole UK and likewise why should the Supreme Court also consider it has power over Scots – notwithstanding the Scottish Legal system might have acceded that power (without the people’s consent).

    I am sure you will be knocking my contention out of the water pdq. 😀

    Liked by 4 people

    1. grumpydubai
      In the Event of Supreme Court ruling that Westminster is indeed 100% Sovereign
      Then by default that Implies
      That Scotland has No rights whatsoever
      As we are Subjects to HM.& Her government ( not citizens) which effectively at best reduces us to a region of England or worse a colony
      This will pull the pin out of our grenade to throw into their constitutional room
      I call England, s Bluff

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I think that is right and indeed was confirmed by the last Supreme Court judgement (re Scotland putting into law the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child). If you remember Alister Jack’s line was that WM couldnt accept it because it could interfere with their ability to legislate for Scotland.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. grumpydubai

          Does that mean end of Union
          Well that is a legal enigma to say the least
          But witin the Act of Union clearly statesthat Scot,s. Law pertains
          Edinburgh lawyers refused to let Scottish MP,s sign the Act until Scot,s Law was upheld
          Relevant and enshrined in The Act
          As it existed at the date of signing
          But no specific clauses within referring to
          Termination or nullifying or voiding it
          However within Scot, law at the at the time
          Of signing It clearly states that the Sovereign power of Scotland resides with the people of Scotland,This was passed when the Scottish King attempted to ensure he had the
          Sovereign power,and that is whenThe Scottish Parliament passed a Law
          In order to prevent him or any further persons doing so
          The wording in the Act of Union states that
          Scot,s Law is enshrined and can only ever be altered by and through the express will as expressed by the elected Representatives to their Parliament
          This in main why that Westminster accepts such
          When asked to vote on such matters
          That is the enigma that in all probabilty
          That only a Independent court of standing
          Dare pass judgement on
          All this is as much of a dangerous enigma
          For our Court of Session and The Supreme court
          Take your guess as to how the dice shall roll
          All this terrifies Westminster and why so few
          Of influence dare speak off, anything they say or act upon would leave them wide open
          For slaying in a court of law
          As the enigma is does Scot,s Law still pertain or not and if yes how so

          Liked by 4 people

  5. The velvet Divorce happened because the glue holding Czechoslovakia together had disappeared, if it ever existed. There was no great notion of “nationality” holding them together. Their currency agreement collapsed after just a few months, and I think the reasons for that points Scotland toward floating a new currency as quickly as possible.
    Interestingly, their trade slewed from each other toward the EU, even when it was more expensive to do so—-both have ultimately thrived.
    Scotland, through the silence of its colonial media, is even denied information about the damage to our economy caused by Brexit. OMERTA!
    It would seem obvious to me, that “England” has a only a vague historic desire to hold on to Scotland or maintain the UK as it is. Even the ones who wish most to maintain the UK (senior Tories/Labour…editorial writers on the Torygraf/Mail/Times) seem to resent or even dislike Scots, Welsh or Irish people (they seem to like southern Irish more than Northern Irish for example).
    A Velvet Divorce may seem unlikely, but it would be far better for both communities that it happened that way, than the turmoil of a referendum.
    If only the SNP had proclaimed the Thatcher Dictum of “a majority of pro-independence Scottish MP’s” being enough for independence negotiations. Is it too late for that?
    Interestingly a former Cabinet Minister has stated that a Border Poll in N Ireland would require a majority of “pro” MLA’s being elected to Stormont—a condition we already have in Scotland.
    All in all, the independence of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania happened quickly and relatively easily. There were some economic disruption, but nothing to bring “buyers remorse” (perhaps unlike Brexit).
    The Baltic States as command economies, had high inflation, high unemployment, high government debt and low economic growth–does this sound familiar? They are now considered high income economies with a high development index.
    Scotland has absolutely nothing to lose becoming self-governing and JOINING the world.
    The real SEPARATISTS are the Brexiteers.
    We have to act wisely, patiently and be aware of trickery.
    Just one issue of many:-
    The weapons system at Faslane/Coulport will be fixed assets within Scotland, therefore ours in international law—don’t give them away—trade them for what we need. And so on……………………….

    Liked by 7 people

    1. Gavin, I agree with much of what you say. In particular its obvious (with the benefit of some hindsight) that the glue holding Czechoslovakia together wasnt up to much. But the core thing that seemed to me to be missing from the original article, was a failure to appreciate that ending the Union was a decision by both sets of politicians – in Czech Republic and Slovakia. We dont have that. We have one set anxious to be out of it (Scotland) and one set determined to recreate the Union of their youth. That is why, interesting as it is (and I dont entirely reject it) the breakup of the Soviet Union maybe more informative – the core state running out of energy to hold the whole together, and the outer parts getting well out of it. You maybe right about how much folk in England want to hang on to Scotland, but the dominant ideology there is “putting the Great back into Great Britain”. As a result I think you are right – it is too late for the majority of Scottish MPs, which I understand she did say (though I have never actually found the source), but I think we are in a situation now where the process matters less than the outcome – ie whether its majority of MPs, a referendum, or a nation fed up with being held back, what matters is that Scotland becomes independent. For instance you write “the independence of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania happened quickly and relatively easily” – but that was because the “centre” if not collapsed became markedly less powerful (compare the situation of the Baltic states to Ukraine just now).
      We need to be flexible and respond as required by the situation however it presents. We tend to think about politics in a rational way, even linear – so how do we win a referendum? But it might not be that a referendum is the way, and so its best not to bet the farm on the one horse.

      Liked by 6 people

  6. Indy car Gordon Ross covered this very issue on his Youtube channel yesterday, ie the process or rather various possible options for the process of Scottish independence. It’s worth a watch for sure.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. “Northern Ireland is deeply unstable …”

    This on NI and the ‘Protocol’ is notable. It comes from a just published report by the think tank, UK in a Changing Europe jointly with Ipsos MORI. It’s entitled: ‘What do MPs think? – expectations, issues and identities’

    The full report can be found here https://ukandeu.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/MPs-survey-final.pdf .

    We get responses to the question: ‘To what extent do you agree or disagree? The NI Protocol is on balance a good thing for NI.’

    The report indicates that 52% of the public in NI agree that it is a good thing. However 69% of Labour MPs and 53% of Tory MPs disagree.

    The report examines views on whether the ‘NI Protocol provides an appropriate means for managing the effects of Brexit on NI’.

    It states that 52% of the NI public agrees that it does. Again many MPs are out of line with public opinion: 68% of Labour MPs and 51% of Tory MPs surveyed disagree.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. stewartb
      Being of Irish origin
      I consider myself well versed in the affairs of Westminster and its colonial history with regards Ireland inclusive of what Not only myself but many others
      Believe that NI is the occupied part
      Given such Westminster is in its long term planning regards both the Republic and NI
      Knows full well reunification is inevitable
      So
      1.They are deliberately undermining the NI economy and fermenting unrest in the
      Poor uneducated protestant youth
      So far it is working by the fact that the political unionist parties in NI are now in complete disarray and divided
      Ticks the box for Divide to Rule
      2.Economically the republic surges ahead
      In 1921 the year of formation of the Republic and NI, in GDP terms per head of the population Republic – 44% compared to UK
      Today now + 48 %, and when you consider productivity then such gap shall widen even further expenditiouly
      3.What drives UK policy
      a. They wish to burden The Republic with a basket case of NI along with a riotous protestant youth
      I speak often to Irish citizens and a synopsis of their views are
      They disinclined to agree with reunification
      Along with a general observation that NI
      are lazy, work shy,dirty,unsocial,poorly educated and potentially very violent and riotous
      So far so good as far as the colonial master of NI concerned
      Jolly good show old pal

      Liked by 2 people

  8. O/T Various broadcast media outlets with a UK audience frequently use the term ‘nation’ or ‘national’ to refer to the UK.

    This evening the same media outlets are telling their UK audiences about a report on what happened at the England vs Italy Euros’ match at Wembley. They are referring to a ‘national shame’.

    The news editors in these companies need to sort out their use of basic terminology. They need to start attributing news appropriately and consistently.

    I suspect no one reading this expects any change whilst Scotland remains within the UK!

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Absolutely stewart. The latest this morning was the scandal of high-rise building cladding. Once again it was a “national” problem, instead of making it clear that it is a problem that exists in England, and that Scotland has entirely different building regulations.

      Liked by 4 people

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