When SNP MP Joanna Cherry said a referendum wasn’t necessary to decide the issue of Scottish secession from the UK she was, in the strictest legal sense, correct. A referendum isn’t necessary (it is only fundamental, in formal UK law, in the context of Northern Ireland). What, however, is essential is Westminster’s legislative consent. The route to such consent lies in parties willing to grant a referendum being elected to a majority in the Commons. The only reason the referendum result was chosen in 2014 was to make the Scottish electorate aware the British state would play fairly due to the fact a majority of seats at Holyrood had been won by parties committed to independence.
This referendum was to have been a decisive, long-standing verdict on the matter. Both the UK national government and its Holyrood subordinate made that clear in the Edinburgh Agreement. A referendum was held; was won by a margin the size of Glasgow by those wanting to maintain the Union; was won in 28 of Scotland’s 32 local authorities; and was designed politically to put the matter to bed long into the future.
Thus, for an elected politician – who recognises the supreme authority of Westminster by virtue of taking up his seat in the Commons – to now suggest Scotland goes down the path of unilaterally deciding to leave the UK is nothing, and I mean ‘nothing’, short of a declaration of insurrection thrown into the proceedings as a bit of red meat to keep the acolyte thugs happy. How have we reached a stage whereby a regional party awash with raw hatred for the people and political culture of its nearest, largest and most enduring neighbour, can enunciate the break up of a country by illegal means and nobody in the media floors them because of it? MacNeil is effectively issuing a call to arms. Not in the literal sense but in a manner guaranteed to cause massive constitutional, legal and social upheaval in a Britain whose attention is currently focused on trying to extricate itself from the European Union. How is this, in any sense, responsible politics?
The United Kingdom is a unitary state with full sovereignty vested in Westminster. Blair’s cack-handed devolution experiments may have created the impression of regional equivalent to London in constitutional matters – at least where our zombie media is concerned – but the reality is otherwise. I honestly hope that, if the SNP dare to attempt this route, the Parliament at Westminster will react in exactly the same way as Madrid reacted to Catalan secessionists last year. These constant threats to the fabric of our UK have gone on for far too long already.