Naive and sentimental Remainers (1)

Sillarton Hill writes:

There can be no room for ambiguity. A sovereign state that chooses not to secure its borders is a vulnerable state. It is misplaced to suggest otherwise. An independent Scotland would quickly learn this. Equally, a federation of states that cannot secure its outer perimeter is seriously undermined, at the frontier and behind it. It is unimaginative to think otherwise.

Those who would have an independent Scotland ‘front and centre’ within the walls of the European Union are in many instances languid in their self-assurance as to the EU’s robustness and lazy in their interpretation of the responsibilities that must come with a perceived ‘mantle of empowerment’ upon entry.

I’m drawn to remark on this as three big events unfold against the backdrop of a small event on 22 February. Migrants and desperate refugees are at the gates of Greece’s border with Turkey. The immigration crisis has never gone away; the abatement of late looks to be over. (The underlying cause is deeply embedded and simply won’t ‘go away’.) The EU must act, but how? It is a clear and present challenge which the EU as a technocratic construct is ill-equipped to defuse and resolve.

The sweep of the Covid-19 epidemic brings a recession threat which could severely strain parts of the EU economy and elements of its financial structure. Memories of the Eurozone crisis have faded. This may revive them. More mundanely, the EU has a budget problem. A pending €1tn, seven-year, programme of contribute – spend – redistribute faces a €60bn funding gap opened up by Brexit. The present discussions are uniquely difficult in the history of the budget process, it is reported. The budget is at the very heart of what the EU does and offers. When money goes out the window, love goes out the door. Expect further discord.

It is naïve to imagine that the European Union is a safety curtain which shields all who manage to get behind it, whether ‘front and centre’ as First Minister Sturgeon would have it, or just in the wings. Far from it. The EU is a federation of ‘unequals’ where legal constructs serve to interpret the wide and uneven spread of political wills across ‘the 27’. A (nation) state needs a strong constitution and sharp elbows to find its way around that stage. Let’s be realistic: Scotland would find it a tough love environment, candle lit for us or otherwise.

Part 2 follows tomorrow