In a recent post we looked at why Nicola Sturgeon’s overtures about a second independence may be more about party and supporter management rather than an actual desire for a re-run of the 2014 vote.
In a speech the day after the EU referendum vote, Sturgeon said: “We voted to protect our place in the world’s biggest single market – and the jobs and investment that depend on it.”
Quite right too.
In the same speech, Sturgeon went on to say that her aim was to “secure our [Scotland’s] continuing place in the EU and in the single market in particular.”
And here in lies the rub. Scotland’s main trading partner is the UK. For all the goods and services we export, 64% goes to our nearest neighbours in the UK. This is compared with 15% to the EU (excluding the UK) and 20% goes to non-EU.
The SNP have failed to sell the public on the economics of Scottish independence once. Starting a campaign by saying that you want to turn your back on your biggest trading partner is not the way to win round No voters from 2014.
This could be countered if you said “voters in England and Wales did this by voting to leave the EU.” And there would be some truth in it as around 44% of UK exports go to the EU.
But where would Scotland go from there? Yes, voters in Scotland may feel shortchanged about the country being taken out of the EU despite opposing this view by an overwhelming margin. However, are we really the type to cut our nose of to spite our face?
We don’t think so.
Salmond may not have meant it when he said independence was a once in a generation event. He may not want to believe it now. Sturgeon on the other hand is canny enough to recognise that good government often means responding to events out with your control with a cool head.
The SNP can’t let emotion dictate their actions. Though it may be anathema to their normal disposition, focus needs to turn to what Scotland needs from the Brexit negotiations and help the UK to get the best.