Too wee, too poor, too stupid. It’s the standard cry of the Britnats whenever Scottish independence is mentioned. Unlike all the other smaller countries in the world, Scotland hasn’t the size, nor the resources nor the intelligence to be a successful independent country. It isn’t a view widely shared by the rest of the world, though you wouldn’t have realised that had you relied on the BBC and the rest of the British media for your information, with one or two honourable exceptions.
But recently, something seems to have changed, and it’s all down to Brexit.
It all started with David Cameron thinking that the best way to retain the votes of the loony right-wing little Englander elements in the Tory party who were threatening to move to UKIP, was to offer them a referendum on EU membership. This duly appeared in the Tory’s manifesto for the 2015 election and it appeared to have the desired effect. Against the odds, the Tories won a surprise overall majority. Of course, this meant that Dave had had to deliver on his promise.
Not a problem, thought Dave. Apart from the small number of loonies mentioned above, nobody with even a modicum of sense would consider leaving the EU, would they? Or so he thought. But he reckoned without possibly the worst campaign in British election history. Both sides concentrated on telling the country how awful the other lot were (that bit was true) and the only positives came from the Leave campaign, with a series of promises which they knew they couldn’t keep, but as they were going to lose, there was no harm in promising the earth, was there?
In fact, both sides were so confident of the outcome, neither made any plans for what to do if the vote went the other way. Remainers assumed it would be business as usual after their victory and Leavers believed no one with any sense could possibly fall for the bunch of half-baked lies that made up their campaign slogans.
Is one definition of stupid not to have any plans about what to do next following a vote on the whole future of the country? Were they really that stupid?
Worse was to follow. Having lost the referendum, Dave fell on his sword. Admittedly it was a rubber sword, so it didn’t do him any harm, but it allowed him to bring forward his plan to make oodles of money on the speaking circuit from all those companies he had “helped out” while in office and it meant he would no longer have any responsibility for the shambles that was undoubtedly going to happen.
Step forward Theresa May. A slightly reluctant Remainer during the referendum, she now became a born again Leaver. Elected unopposed to replace Dithering Davie, she was seen as a safe pair of hands. Having spent six years cementing her reputation as the nastiest Home Secretary in living memory, she was seen as just the person to sort out the problems caused by those nasty foreign workers coming into the country from other parts of the EU and contributing to our economy.
Determined to show she was a better Prime Minister than Dave, she set about assembling a cabinet of all the talents, including David Davies (hic!) as the man to sort out all those EU Johnny Foreigners and Liam Fox to arrange all the trade deals needed to replace the EU trade arrangements, … with a little help from his friends, perhaps.
But the most exciting appointment was Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary, perhaps the only man living who numbers those he has insulted as greater than those he hasn’t. The perfect choice to convince the rest of the world how much better than them Britain really is.
It didn’t take long before the UK government’s whole negotiating position began to fall apart. Despite delaying the start of negotiations with the EU for as long as possible in the (ultimately forlorn) hope that they could scramble together a few ideas, it immediately became obvious that the UK government had no idea what they wanted to achieve, had no understanding of the complexity of the current relationship with the EU and couldn’t even manage to achieve any form of consistency in the statements made by cabinet ministers. In or out of the Single Market? In or out of the ECJ? In or out of the European Counter Terrorism Centre and Europol. In or out of Euratom? In or out of European Medicines Agency? The list goes on and on. At the last count, there were at least twenty seven European agencies whose functions would have to be replicated if the UK government chose not to remain part of. How many of them do you think our government has a plan for?
Instead of plans, we got “Brexit means Brexit” and “out means out”. 52% of those who voted (and 35% of all voters) became “the will of the people” and it soon became “unpatriotic” to deny the will of the people, an excuse trotted out to justify any change the government wanted to impose.
However, if you thought May couldn’t do anything more stupid than put such a bunch of numpties in charge of anything more important than cleaning Westminster’s loos, you were soon to be proved wrong. Concerned that the slim majority in Parliament inherited from Dastardly Dave might leave her open to even a small backbench revolt, with a twenty point lead in the polls, May called snap election to cement her position as unchallenged Brexit supremo. Unfortunately the only thing cemented were the shoes she was fitted with in preparation for her being thrown overboard when the Tory party decides she is no longer an asset.
Unfortunately, the rest of the world was unimpressed. For reasons that seemed to escape our government, there wasn’t a queue forming outside Westminster desperate to strike a deal which was really advantageous to the UK. Several countries seemed more interested in striking deals with the EU, or had already done so. As the EU market, without the UK, is more than six times the size of the UK market, it can’t be a surprise to anyone that countries are more interested in a trade deal with the EU than with the UK. That is, it can’t be a surprise to anyone except our current government who seem astonished that everyone wasn’t prioritising a deal with the UK over everything else.
As no one seemed to be beating a path to their door, May and her ministers were forced to take their pleadings for priority trade deals around the world.
Japan told May they were keen for a deal, but it would have to wait as they were currently too busy negotiating with the EU. The UK would have to join the queue.
Canada were also prepared to discuss a deal, but not while the UK are still in the EU, as that’s against EU rules and Canada don’t want to irritate the EU just weeks after concluding their own trade agreement. The UK would have to wait.
May also went to the US to hold hands with her bestest friend, Donald Trump, who promised a quick trade deal. Unfortunately, Trump’s first act of the new arrangement was to slap a 219% tariff on aerospace parts coming from Bombardier in Belfast, not the act of a man desperate for a deal, but perhaps a taste of things to come.
Remember, during the independence referendum, when Unionists told us we would have to join a queue to get into the EU? Well, who’s being forced to join queues now?
In addition to the reluctance of many major countries to prioritise deals with the UK, another problem the UK Government has is that it lacks the capacity to be able to conduct the separate negotiations necessary to replicate the trade agreements they already have as a part of the EU. According to Liam Fox, the International Trade minister, this means concentrating on bigger agreements and ignoring smaller ones. Even on the bigger ones, the UK Government wants to adopt cut and paste copycat deals, effectively replicating what they already have as a part of the EU. You could ask where the benefit of leaving the EU comes from when the best that can be achieved is what the UK has now, and that only for bigger countries. Unfortunately, the UK is just too wee to cope with all the changes brought on by Brexit.
The UK Government’s final problem is that it’s just too poor. The UK has to take its place in the queue behind the more important countries, and by more important, we mean countries who can afford to trade. UK national debt has been on a rising trend for many years, but the rate of increase has risen sharply since the Tories took office in 2010, despite an election promise to eliminate the deficit by 2015. Debts of under £1tn when the Tories took office have increased to over £1.7tn now and are expected to reach £2tn by the end of this year. Doubling national debt in the space of 7 years must rank as some sort of record. I wonder if Guinness have been told?
This doubling of national debt has gone hand in hand with a decrease in the UK’s credit rating. Remember when we were told that independence would mean the loss of our AAA rating? Well, the latest rating issued by Moody’s shows the UK downgraded to Aa2, a rating which may well see interest charges rising on the UK’s enormous debt. And all because nobody believes Brexit is going to improve the UK’s economy.
So the next time a Unionist makes comments about independence, just tell them that everybody else in the world thinks that it’s the UK who are too wee, too poor and too stupid.