David Torrance looks back on the first UK constitutional referendum – the 1973 N Irish border poll. “As Prof James Mitchell has observed, the 1973 referendum ‘suggested that sovereignty rested with the people of Northern Ireland and not Parliament at Westminster’, a suggestion arguably reinforced with respect to Scotland more than 40 years later.”
Can Scotland enjoy a ‘velvet divorce’ from UK?
Looking back on the Czech/Slovak divorce 30 years ago, a US political scientist sees no precedent: “The SNP might interpret a general election result as a mandate to leave, but unionist parties might see it otherwise and refuse to come to the table. Any push towards independence in the face of opposition from the U.K. government could lead to an impasse akin to that between Catalonia and the Spanish government.”
The SNP’s new fundamentalism
“The SNP has dug itself into a fundamentalist hole and will need a dramatic pragmatic turn to hope to take advantage of the changing political context. Its best hope under its current fundamentalist leadership remains that the Tories win the next general election, opinion remains polarised and might finally shift decisively in favour of independence.”
Labour’s new narrative on Europe
The Labour leadership should not delay in setting out a full and convincing narrative for the future relationship with the EU …This new narrative should set out clearly the reforms required both in the EU and within the UK itself.
A vote revisited
‘The status quo that brought us to Brexit will not get us out of it. While that time has gone, it is clear a new way of talking about the future was sorely needed anyway, even more so two years on. Meanwhile we are presented with an opportunity: in the breaking down of established common sense comes an opportunity to recreate and redefine.’
Does Europe want the UK to stay?
‘A multi-choice ballot between May’s deal (which could amount to no-deal), or in/out of the customs union and in/out of the single market, would allow voters to make a real and somewhat nuanced choice.’
Will Brexit destroy the UK?
‘There is a saying among global trade negotiators that the world is divided between cannibals and lunch. The UK may be finding painfully that leaving the protection of the cannibals has condemned it to become lunch. It was certainly Stephen (Haseler)’s view that the English superstate was just as incapable of responding to new challenges internationally as it was domestically.’
Devolution settlement is at risk
‘The territorial politics of Brexit is a bewildering mix of ignorance, apparent disdain, confrontation, cooperation and collaboration. Rarely have the so-called devolution ‘settlements’ appeared more unsettled.’
Problems with #EUref2 on the ‘deal’
‘In any three-way referendum on Brexit, there is (therefore) a real risk that supporters of losing options would blame the voting system. It is not a promising route for making a decision in a way the country as a whole can accept as fair.\
How long would it take to hold a 2nd EU referendum?
‘… were legislation introduced the day parliament returned from the party conference recess, on 9 October, the earliest Thursday on which a referendum could be held would be 28 March – the very day before exit day. Of course, the introduction of legislation so soon is very unlikely, and there is plenty of scope for delays along the way…’