In a week where Tesco decided to boycott their Scottish customers by ditching our flag and Jeremy Corbyn couldn’t find a seat on a train, some real politics actually happened today.
Following Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement she would explore all options to protect Scotland’s place in the EU, she has all but concluded that will mean a second independence referendum.
In a Bute House press conference today, the First Minister made clear that the UK leaving the EU, effectively kills off any other option that will not leave Scotland worse off.
The basis for this argument is the first in a planned series of impact assessment publications by the Office of the Chief Economic Adviser. They have found, based on projections by a number of external organisations, the cost to the Scottish economy of leaving the EU could range from £1.7 billion to £11.2 billion per year by 2030.
The key moment from the FM came when she said:
“What today’s publication illustrates is that, whatever the final form of Brexit – whatever ‘Brexit means Brexit’ turns out to mean – the old argument that the UK somehow delivers financial security for Scotland, no longer holds water. Brexit will be deeply damaging to Scotland’s economy and finances.”
Note the use of ‘whatever’ which effectively means regardless of options such as a reverse Greenland or the terms of dealing with the EU single market or participation on EU research mechanisms such as Horizon2020, the Scottish Government has concluded all options are damaging to our economy.
Meanwhile, as economists put cost of UK losing the European Union single market membership at £75bn, equivalent to 4% of GDP, the UK construction sector in Q2 is down by 0.7% and now in recession, the pound trades at worst levels against euro in about three years. Footfall in Scotland fell for the second month in a row, down 1.9 per cent in July following a 3.3 per cent fall in June, according to the Scottish Retail Consortium. Oh yes, and France overtook the UK as the world’s 5th largest economy, while the EU overall GDP is up by 0.4%.
It really would be refreshing of our Scottish journalists actively reported on and highlighted these important facts rather than ‘retreating into a self affirming huddle’ as Pete Wishart astutely observed. There we have it then, no date yet but a clear indication of intentions by a determined and diligent First Minister of Scotland that a referendum on Scotland’s independence is once again on the horizon.