As you will read elsewhere in this update, the SIU team have had a great start to the year, getting out and spreading the message about the benefits of Scotland remaining in the UK, and the reasons why people don’t want ‘indyref2’.
Our message that independence isn’t the answer to Brexit resonates with a lot of people, but we need to keep spreading the word. Indeed, I have recently been saddened to see some people on social media suggesting that because of Brexit, we should support the nationalists in erecting a new border within our islands. Many of the people I see saying this appear to be well-meaning Europhiles who have been taken in by the SNP’s PR machine, and who do not fully understand the situation in Scotland today.
The situation in Scotland today is not only that the SNP have let people down through their failings in domestic policies. It is also that Scots benefit enormously from the economic ties across the UK. Freedom of movement and a common economic framework across the single UK market help businesses in Scotland to reach customers with no additional friction, and enable people to move throughout the UK to find work without restrictions.
Two Scottish Government publications help to illustrate the benefits of the union to people in Scotland. The GERS (Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland) statistics are probably the best-known, demonstrating the benefits of pooling and sharing over time via the ‘Barnett Formula’. The other publication is ESS (Export Statistics Scotland). This provides a view of the destinations of Scotland’s ‘exports’, grouping them by rest of the UK (for which they are not really ‘exports’), EU, and rest of the world. The latest version, which has just been published and which the SIU team highlighted online and in major newspapers, shows that 60% of Scotland’s exports go to the rest of the UK, and roughly 20% to each of the EU and rest of the world. Putting up barriers which hinder the volume of trade within the UK would cause huge damage to Scotland’s economy.
Sadly, not many people have these statistics to hand, and thus some seem to believe that Scotland leaving the UK and aiming to join the EU might be a solution to Brexit. The final point to mention in this context is that for a separate Scotland, meeting the EU’s stability mechanism and criteria for Eurozone convergence would require massive austerity and huge tax rises. Loss of the benefit of UK risk sharing, increased trade friction and harsh cuts to public services would make for a toxic combination – and I do hope you will join me in trying to dissuade well-meaning but misinformed people from wishing that upon us! Please do your bit this year to spread the word that more nationalism isn’t the answer here, and to support SIU and Scotland’s place in the UK.