Scotland and the EU

At the start of this piece, Dr Kirsty Hughes, senior lecturer in public law at the University of Cambridge, makes two assumptions: that the UK will implement a “hard Brexit path”, and that Scotland will “sooner or later choose independence”. She notes that three-quarters of voters from Scotland cast their votes for either pro-EU or pro-second referendum parties in the 2019 election, and believes this will lead to them seeking independence and for re-joining the EU. Hughes then considers the choices that could be available for Scotland to achieve this.

One of the choices for Scotland to consider, she argues, would be whether to join the EU as an independent state or whether to join the EEA (European Economic Area). She states that, if EEA membership was pursued, Scotland could have regulatory borders with England and Wales, as well as customs borders with the EU. She suggests this is “not the most desirable outcome” for Scotland. In addition, Hughes notes that 16 countries have joined the EU since the mid-1990s, and none have joined the EEA. Turning to the option of EU membership, the article lists potential positives and negatives. Hughes argues that the benefits would include free movement and the “likely attraction of more foreign investment, with knock-on positive productivity impacts”. A negative would be that Scotland could feel “frictions in goods and services trade with the UK”, particularly as trade between the UK and Scotland is higher than that between Scotland and the EU.

Ultimately, the author believes Scotland’s choices will be greatly impacted by the deal the UK reaches with the EU. She states that if Scotland stays closely aligned to the EU, it would find it easiest to re-join in the shortest amount of time.

The Remaining 27

In this article, Romain Leick focuses on the actions of the 27 remaining EU member states during the Brexit talks with the UK. He states that the EU viewed Brexit as “so absurd, so idiotic and so backward” that it did not take the UK’s vote seriously, and that this outlook consequently resulted in Britain becoming “more determined to leave and more disgusted with the bloc”. The article gives some potential reasons for the EU’s stance, suggesting that if the UK was able to leave the EU easily, it would “call the EU’s self-image into question”. Leick then deconstructs this self-image and claims that the EU has ultimately “overreached” by aiming for ever more alignment instead of flexibility.

Leick argues the UK is “actually the more far-sighted realist”, because the EU “as a political project […] has failed”. He highlights events such as the euro crisis, the debt crisis and the refugee crisis, which he argues showed deep divisions between the European partners. The article then details the benefits that the UK will continue to bring to Europe, demonstrating the necessity of a continued alliance. He states that Britain “remains the second-largest military and economic power in Europe” and has “nuclear deterrent capabilities”, as well as “a permanent seat on the UN Security Council”. Leick urges the EU to “set aside its arrogance” to reach a mutually beneficial trade deal between the two parties.