‘ I would advise any Scottish government to aim broadly to balance the budget. At present, without support from Westminster, Scotland would be running a large deficit. If the proponents of independence want to increase their economic credibility, now is the time to start setting out how that deficit could be closed’.
“…we are faced with the extraordinary prospect of less cooperation with our immediate neighbours, even a situation where borders are restored within an island – now referred, even by English politicians, to the ‘island of Ireland’ – divided many years ago by a cowardly British establishment”.
No deal. That’s not just the spin from Theresa May’s cabinet, it’s the bleakly realistic view of Fabian Zuleeg, chief executive of the European Policy Centre.
‘And while England’s Brexiteers prepare to sign a blank cheque to gain their version of independence at any price, what are the chances of Scotland gaining control over its own post-Brexit destiny?’
‘At the end of the day, the UK Government and Parliament (subject, of course, to the constraints of parliamentary arithmetic) can legally have their way on what happens to repatriated power, even if any “will of the people” justification for doing so would be specious. But…’
‘Young people are now increasingly turning to social media as their first source of information about current events. If the BBC is to win back this section of the audience – or at least stem the ebbing tide – it needs to examine, and respond quickly, to the current mote in its political eye.’
The devolved legislatures cannot block the bill but the need for their consent means that they have a considerable degree of leverage – much more so than if Theresa May had secured a landslide majority in the June election. It is likely the devolved nations will seek to exploit this leverage to the full.
‘In a democracy, it is always possible to think again and to choose a different direction. We need to think again about Brexit, to have a UK-wide debate about calling a halt to the process and changing our minds.’
It is likely, therefore, that the UK Government will retain the key powers indefinitely and devolve only cautiously. It seems unlikely that the UK Government will transfer them all back or that the Welsh proposal for joint policymaking will be adopted.
‘The initial reaction from the Scottish and Welsh Governments repeats their concerns about the new restrictions on devolved legislatures. Given its breadth and constitutional importance, a Scotland-wide debate is surely needed to make sure it leads to an outcome which wider Scottish civic society can support’.