It’s hard to disagree that Nicola Sturgeon has just made the most strategically-sound political move seen since that day which I am reluctant to call “Britain’s independence day”. Here in Scotland, she is a force to be reckoned with, and a vocal one at that. As the political climate turns to tempest, she has consistently said everything that the liberal left have wanted to hear. Hitting her keyboard a flurry of anti-Trump and pro-immigration tweets are lauded with likes and retweets. “This,” people think, “is the leader for us. The believer and doer we need amidst the wet blankets and no-shows of other political parties.”
While Britain’s leaders were still looking at their shoes and mumbling “Brexit means Brexit”, Sturgeon had drawn up Scotland’s plan for the implementation of Article 50. She is a strong opposition. But isn’t that all she is? It is easy to say all the right things when you’re not sitting in the hot seat.
Now, she has finally made a definitive move. Amidst Brexit confusion, unstable global politics, and a struggling Scottish economy, the SNP believe it is the time to jump ship to avoid, as Deputy Leader Angus Robertson put it, having to “sit in the back of the Tory Brexit bus… and see the Prime Minister drive us off a Brexit cliff”. It seems they would rather have us take a detour and turn off another cliff into that same void of uncertainty.
Sturgeon’s main reasoning seems to be that the government’s reluctance to compromise on hard Brexit shows their disinterest in listening to the views of the Scottish people. But with half of Scots surveyed declaring their opposition to another referendum, and just over a third in favour, it is hard not to question Sturgeon’s apparent selective hearing.
There is no evidence to suggest that Scotland is in a stronger place three years later to start forging her own independent path. Making a decision now is reckless — no one truly knows the effect Brexit will have. Assuming that independence will save Scotland from losing her ties to the EU is naïve, even factually wrong. The EU have stated, as they did in 2014, that Scotland will have to reapply for membership. But if Scotland were allowed to join it would only bolster the hopes of Catalonian separatists, something Spain will never allow to happen.
Not only would Scotland be likely lose EU membership, we would also renounce our influence on the UK’s veto vote in the UN, thus giving up much of our global power. Economically, Scotland would be left with the largest deficit of the EU, given that it consistently out-spends the rest of the UK whilst receiving significantly in taxes less per head. And if abstract numbers aren’t your thing, take Aberdeen, the oil capital of Europe. With oil now half the price used in the SNP’s 2014 calculations it is no longer the stable financial powerhouse on which we could once depend.
With anti-Brexit feeling high, Sturgeon is attempting to ride the wave of discontent, pushing us towards her ultimate goal. However, to jump from Brexit Britain to independence is to jump from a burning ship to a tattered and unstable lifeboat.
Battling uncertainty with uncertainty is reckless. If Sturgeon must continue with this independence rhetoric I implore her to wait until the water settles.