In the wake of the Brexit vote, the SNP saw their chances of an independent Scotland slip further and further away. Scotland’s unpopular First Minister has made all kinds of outlandish threats that Brexit will be blocked, Brexit will not go ahead, and the SNP Government will go to the Supreme Court.
Brexit is happening; Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP can’t stop that happening, they can’t really delay the process; they are just full of hot air and bluster, trying to look important on the World stage when in fact they are irrelevant.
In the aftermath of the Brexit vote, all sorts of daft ideas are now starting to surface from the ‘could’ and ‘what if’ brigade.
The idea for a Scottish passport plan drawn up by academics is a mere paper exercise, aside from the reality that it has no chance whatsoever of being approved, it shows that academia is wilding out of touch regarding the political scene and public in the UK.
The first mistake is the concept, immigration is reserved to Westminster, and that encompasses immigration. Already the Westminster Government has vetoed any special deal for Scotland on Brexit, so the idea Scots could be offered their own passports as part of a radical proposal to allow them to live and work in the European Union is not going to happen.
The waste of Holyrood parliament resources to examine a plan drawn up by academics can only have one logical conclusion, Scots aren’t getting a special deal to continue to enjoy free movement with the rest of the EU because this would violates interference in the domestic politics of a Member State or depending on the Brexit talks, of another non EU country. As well as that politicians in Scotland wouldn’t be allowed to operate a highway into Scotland so that EU Citizens can come here in case they try to get cute and use immigration as a bargaining chip to threat Westminster.
The EU cannot go along with the passport plan because it opens up all sorts of cans of worms which they will not want involved in. If Scots get a ‘special passport’ then so must everyone else in the UK or it is a form of discrimination. And if everyone in the UK gets freedom of movement into Europe, then the EU will demand freedom of movement to the UK in return.
And freedom of movement is coming to an end as far the British people are concerned, if the Conservatives don’t deal with the immigration problem, then this leaves a vacuum which new anti-immigration parties can fill or Ukip can boosted up to be full mainstream in British politics.
The passport plan cannot work, and it comes with dangers for any sitting Westminster Government, so the answer will be to say no.
One of the central proposals by the experts is that a devolved Scotland could issue its own national insurance numbers for Scots to use to apply for jobs in Europe. Scotland will not be issuing its own national insurance numbers, a British National insurance number is perfectly acceptable if a UK Citizen wishes to go work in Europe, it was before we joined the EU, while we were in it and it will be post Brexit.
One certainly wonders how and why so many academics think they have stumbled on political gold when in fact they have been mistaken by shiny fool’s gold. The draft initiative is the brainchild of professors Damian Chalmers of the London School of Economics and Anad Menon of King’s College London, you would expect that coming from these places of higher learning that Chalmers and Menon would have smelled the coffee before coming up with a design for effectively a square wheel. They believe NI numbers, combined with address information from the electoral roll, would form the basis of “documents additional to their passports which could serve to secure them free movement in the rest of the EU”.
Again, the point, non-interference is the domestic situation of another country is not allowed in the EU. Holyrood cannot just start issuing their own NI numbers, they don’t have the authority and to be clear, it is highly doubtful they would ever get that authority transferred to the Scottish Parliament.
The passport idea apparently has gained traction with Scottish academics, Nina Miller Westoby of Glasgow University and Jo Shaw of Edinburgh thinking this is plausible. Sadly it isn’t plausible because the Westminster Government won’t allow two tiers of governmental policy which could end up radically different to operate in the UK.
“Increasingly immigration control is taking place within the UK, in situ, for example by landlords obliged to confirm residence status before renting property, rather than traditional immigration control at the border, and this may be a means in which a differentiated immigration approach is developed. An example that has been mooted by Chalmers and Menon amongst others proposes that the Scottish Parliament become responsible for the issue of NI numbers and thereby develop a system where NI numbers are granted to EU and European Economic Area citizens which are only valid in Scotland.”
If this came across the desk of a Government Minister at Westminster, the idea would be red lined and no further action to be taken.
The SNP desperately want control, of immigration because they want to grant voting rights and attempt to stage a second independence reference, they think them having control of immigration can swing the vote in their favour.
SNP Government spokeswoman said:
“This is one of a number of valuable contributions to the debate, and the specific recognition that Scotland will need a close continuing relationship with the EU is a welcome one”.
“This and the other similar contributions illustrate the range of options potentially open to Scotland and the UK as a whole, and will inform our thinking as we prepare to publish specific proposals on maintaining Scotland’s place in Europe, including our continued place in the single market.”
This proposal is rubbish and will not see the light of day, the SNP will not be allowed to play games or indeed attempt to hold Westminster to ransom; this idea would end up mired in SNP grievance politics. My view, this will be killed stone dead, it is a political minefield, dangerous and having no upside for Westminster.
We have all seen what happens when Nicola Sturgeon is given control and power, it leads to abuse, bad management and failure.
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University