We take our readings this morning from the First Book of Boris, chapter one, verses 1 to 25 inclusive.
These are the texts which cover the important reasons why it’s essential to fight for your national sovereignty, most especially when you suspect the political regime to which you are currently joined at the hip has a quite different set of ambitions from your own.
The book of Boris emphasises that having control of your own decision making is of paramount importance. It explains how it is totally unacceptable to sign up to any deal which means that no matter what that regime decides in the future, you would have to play along.
Furthermore it explains that taking back control of your own laws, lands, and coastal waters is no more than the natural state of any proud nation wishing to revert to its historical identity.
And all the while these texts intone that it is no part of the authors’ intention to fall out with “friends and neighbours” next door in recognition of the ties which have bound them together for so long, but which, to be frank, have outlived their usefulness.
We can therefore be partially grateful to the Book of Boris for outlining at least some of the script for Scotland’s independent future.
We agree that sovereignty is important, though in our case it will lie with the people rather than their government, whatever complexion that may take in future years. We understand the imperative to take back control, but we wish to pursue this national self interest whilst pledging to play a full part in measures to reduce climate change, combat global poverty, and scale down an increasingly insane arms race.
The manufacture and export of armaments would not feature in our industrial strategy. Clearly this commitment entails the removal of Trident from the Clyde.
We do already have our own laws which saves one essential building block of a new nation state, and negotiating future arrangements as a coastal nation for industries like fishing will be a welcome change from ministers from landlocked constituencies in the south of England doing deals “on our behalf.”
And of course we have our own parliament which can belatedly celebrate its 21st birthday by taking the keys of all legislative areas from here on in. Not just the devolved ones currently under threat from Westminster’s Internal Market Bill, but fashioning its own foreign and defence policy in the manner of any other pragmatic, small European nation.
I rather doubt it will involve sending gunboats to repel seaborne invaders from Grimsby.
This parliament will have to fashion an exit strategy from rUK, whatever is left of it, and that will naturally involve some detailed negotiations. Nobody from the Scottish government will be heard to describe this process as “the easiest deal in history”, and whilst a great amount of preparatory work is being done, it will be far from “oven ready” when the formal secession process is under way.
Nevertheless it will be a time limited process free of tedious bluster on our part and long on respect for fairness. Not easy, but more fruitful than the alternative as we have just witnessed.
As little Mr Gove was observing just this very month, (with no apparent sense of irony), Northern Ireland – being at once still in Europe and in the UK – will have the best of both worlds.
We in Scotland will be less greedy. We merely want a world better than that currently being fashioned by a London government whose myopia is matched only by its serial mendacity. The bar is not high to do better than an administration which has won few friends and influenced nobody.
Just as I have American friends currently ashamed of their government, I have English ones appalled at what is being done and said in their name. Our migration policy will be welcoming of all those fleeing the malign incompetence of team Johnson.
The new model Scotland cannot and will not promise sunlit uplands as a reward for breaking the chains imposed ever more stringently by London. Life, most especially life post Covid and Brexit, will be no land of milk and honey. Yet it will be a land, if the current signposting is at all accurate, which will ultimately take its place again amongst the smaller members of the European Union.
As critics are wont to point out, this Union too has no shortage of challenges and intermittent squabbles. Yet while it remains dominated by the Franco/German axis, the Brexit bourach has underscored its ability to act in an “all for one and one for all” manner when there are external threats.
As the Irish foreign minister observed: “Europe always had our back”. And it had. Even when protecting this country was not in the universal best interests of the others. That is why being in the EU matters.
Its power as a trading bloc matters too, as we will witness when the kind of deals are done with America, of which Boris and Co may now only dream. A shrunken GB will find the world a much lonelier place. Neither initial will any longer apply.
The Book of Boris is not big on admitting any downside to its plans for dominating, er, England. It talks of Canada deals which took seven long years and still involve tariffs. It endlessly flags up the chimera of an “Australia style deal”, which, as a previous Australian premier has just pointed out, is no deal at all.
We too will, involuntarily, have to face those downsides. Yet think on. Just at this moment we are about to be hit with all the horrors of post Brexit life, with no control at all over our own destiny. No recognition of our democratic decision to seek a different path; to remain European.
Independence will not be a land of instant glory, but it will be one of genuine hope. That’ll do me.
First published in The National 13.12.20