From Alasdair [THE] Galloway:
The Letters they don’t publish
This letter is a response to one published by Labour in Scotland’s redoubtable (now ex?) Councillor Alex Gallagher (or Millport Eck as a friend calls him), taking issue with whether “the Shared Prosperity Fund (SPF) would deliver £212 million to projects north of the Border over the next three years compared to £549m that would be due from EU structural funds”. In the course of this he makes claim that I cite in the letter.
Alex Gallagher claims that had there been a Yes vote in September 2014, “Scotland would have ceased to be a member of the EU in March 2016, meaning we would have got nothing from either fund over the last six years.”, so accepting Alex Salmond’s, much derided at the time, estimate of 18 months to negotiate independence.
However, even if Scotland would have been out of the EU in March 2016, it is not obvious that it would have remained outside for the last six years. We know for instance that there is no “queue” to join the EU. The notion that Scotland would have to wait in line for Turkey to secure membership is quite risible.
Instead, Scotland would have had to negotiate its own membership, but with the not inconsiderable advantage that immediately prior to March 2016 it was part of an EU member state, and thus already consistent with its acquis. Mr Gallagher’s estimate of an independent Scotland being out of the EU for six years really is not tenable.
But, let’s say Salmond was wrong, even if just a little. Perhaps, it took half as long again, so not eighteen months but twenty-seven, taking us rather neatly to the end of 2016. By this time not only has Scotland voted for its independence, but the remaining UK has voted to leave the EU (Brexit). While negotiation would remain necessary, is it not unimaginable that Brexit would not influence opinion within the European Commission? Michel Barnier’s “My Secret Brexit Diary” suggests this strongly. Would there not even be a shred of schadenfreude there that they could assist a part of the UK that wanted to remain in the EU? Even if Scotland hadn’t voted in the Brexit referendum, the application for membership would surely speak for itself. Might the Commission be less concerned about Scotland’s currency, for a time, being one shared with another member state? Between 1944 and 2002 Belgian Francs were legal tender in Luxembourg.
Lastly, had there been a Yes vote and a successful application to the EU, Scotland would be a member who could apply to EU schemes. Can’t say that as a continuing member of the UK!
Two reasons for drawing attention to this
- The continuing argument about whether Scotland could join the EU and for how long we would have to wait, is a continuing one. The answers are “yes” (partly down to schadenfreude on the part of the Europeans) and “not long” (though the longer it takes to get out of the UK may extend that).
- The Herald has a nice line in publishing a controversial letter (usually of the Unionist variety) but publishing no replies. This is an example. Usual reason given for this is that “the debate moved on”. To be fair, this can happen. I sent off what I thought was a rather good letter to the Herald one morning about four years ago, but in the afternoon Alex Salmond was charged with what he was found Not Guilty/ Not proven of. Drew Allan was even moved to send me an email apologising for not using the letter which he felt was rather good, but “things clearly changed after lunch”.
We’ve done Eck here before: