Sturgeon vows to keep flying EU flag over Scottish HQ after Brexit Day

Nicola Sturgeon has ordered officials to keep the European Union flag flying over the Scottish government headquarters after the UK leaves the bloc on Friday.

Ms Sturgeon is vehemently against Scotland being taken out of the EU and has repeatedly argued it is happening ‘against our will’.

Scotland voted 62 per cent in favour of Remain and 38 per cent in favour of Leave at the EU referendum in 2016.

Boris Johnson is expected to address the nation on Friday night in a bid to unite the country and help heal the divisions of the last three years.

Ms Sturgeon will deliver her own speech to mark the occasion in which she will set out the next steps in her bid for Scottish independence.

She wants a second breakaway referendum to take place before the end of 2020 but Downing Street will not grant the First Minister permission to hold the vote.

As well as her speech, the EU flag will reportedly continue to fly over St Andrew’s House after 11pm on Friday, remaining in place for the duration of next weekend.

According to The Telegraph, Ms Sturgeon said: 'Friday will be a sad day for Scotland as we are taken out of the European Union against our will.

’It will also be clear that a future in Europe can only be achieved by Scotland becoming an independent country - and it is hope of a better future that must now be our focus.'

This comes in the wake of Johnson’s refusal of Sturgeon’s section 30 order earlier this month to hold another Scottish Independence Referendum (“indyref2”) and two new polls, the first released a few days ago and the second released today:

A sample of 1,019 respondents across the country took part in the survey, which was conducted by Survation for polling and pro-independence thinktank Progress Scotland from January 20-22.

It found 61% of those who expressed an opinion believe the Scottish Parliament should ultimately decide on the holding of an independence referendum.

"NEARLY three quarters of Scots believe Britain was wrong to vote for Brexit, a new poll has revealed.

The YouGov survey found that overall more than half (54%) of those in the UK are against leaving the EU, with Scots being the most pro-EU.

The percentage for Scotland is higher than the 62% who voted to Remain in the EU referendum in 2016.

The rest of the UK’s results were a mixed picture with 66% of those in London against leaving the EU, 53% in North England, 49% in the south of England and 46% in the Midlands and Wales.

The news follows a debate on Wednesday about keeping the European flag flying over the Scottish Parliament after Brexit."

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There’s going to be a vote held in the Scottish Parliament tomorrow in respect of this issue of keeping the EU flag flying over Holyrood (Scotland’s Parliament building) after 11 pm on Friday night (when the UK Brexits), and the breakdown by party in the chamber is expected as follows:

It will carry because of the SNP-Green majority but I’m very disappointed in the Liberal Democrats. They have important seats in Scotland and this is not a good look for them to fold in with the Tories and act against the very clear - and evidently substantially grown (since 2016) - pro-EU majority in Scotland.

Labour is in the process of a leadership election in London, where issues of ‘federalism’ (will never be achieved but nice idea) are being flouted as new policy, which likely explains their Scottish branch’s “abstention”. Prominent voices in Scottish Labour are even mulling the idea of supporting another independence referendum (even the leadership contender for the UK party, Keir Starmer, has conceded that SNP victory in the 2021 Holyrood elections would be viewed by him as another mandate for a referendum).

The Tories and Lib Dems, however, are just demonstrating that they have absolutely no agency but are rather satellites directly controlled by their Westminster-based HQs. And I would seriously encourage the Liberals to re-think putting that image across to Scottish voters (I mean, their former leader Jo Swinson lost her seat to the SNP at the last election in December).

Labour, at least, are seriously looking at solutions to the emerging Scottish independence standoff - the Tories and LibDems are just putting their fingers in their ears and wishing it away.

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There will be no Scottish referendum until the UK has settled issues with the EU that affect Scotland. Then these issues can be negotiated directly with Scotland then the UK doesn’t have to seek approval of the EU over most deals they make with Scotland.

I’m thinking particularly of fishing rights as the EU currently have extensive rights to fish in the UK territorial waters which Johnson is eager to take back. But I’m sure there are other issues that affect Scotland that the UK will want to take control of before negotiating with Scotland.

Scottish devolution will happen eventually, but Sturgeon et al are going to have to be patient about it.The earliest I can see a referendum is 2022 provided the UK has wrapped up its negotiations with the EU by that time. By agitating for it now, they may be muddying the waters for any UK-EU negotiations and that won’t be taken kindly in Westminster.

Ah, funny you mention that - you just beat me to the punch!

The expectation is that Johnson will do with Scottish fisheries the same thing he did with Ulster Unionists in the DUP, sell them out.

Johnson has signalled that he’s opting for regulatory divergence from EU standards, which means that the UK will no longer enjoy frictionless access to the European Single Market, our main export market.

This is necessary for Johnson’s purposes if he’s to have an iota of a chance of getting a US trade deal whilst Trump is in office, but at the same time he’s kiboshing the latter by signing up to Huawei 5G. Republican senators have indicated that this is a redline, for security reasons, in a trade deal and that they see no difference between centre/periphery.

So, I think Johnson is making a right mess of things at the minute. The omens aren’t looking good.

The degree of access to the single market for the financial services industry in London could come at the price of continued access for European fishing fleets, according to Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadker.

Have I any reason to believe that with business giving him severe pressure in London Johnson won’t be tempted to abandon fisheries away up north?

If he puts Unionism within the UK first to placate Scottish fishermen, he potentially gives London’s finance it’s hardest of hard Brexit landings. If he puts a bunch of Scottish fishermen in the northeast first, how do you reckon that will go down with English financiers who keep the entire service-based UK economy ticking over?

I think the fishing industry is screwed, personally. Its going to be a sector-by-sector thing, not a comprehensive trading relationship, because Johnson has set a contrived ideologically driven end-date of December 31st 2020 for the transition phase to end. A lot of sectors are set for damage.

The question is: Which ones?

Time for hard compromises all over the place. I wouldn’t want to be Boris Johnson right now, tbh.

I don’t think they want a rerun of the Irish War of Independence up there. Also bear in mind there are tonnes of Scottish soldiers all ready and some key military bases are situated there.

Scotland is the oldest independent nation within the UK it might be worth recalling. It was independent and maintained it’s own ambassadors, navy etc. for centuries before the act of union.

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My sense is that both sides - the UK government and the Scottish government - want to avoid a Catalonia-style crisis, even though each must talk tough for their respective constituencies, parties and governments.

Johnson has rejected Sturgeon’s first section 30 order but that was already anticipated.

Sturgeon is under pressure from her grassroots to opt for a wildcard advisory referendum at the devolved level without Westminster authorisation, however she is resisting that idea and emphasising a strictly legal pathway to independence, using political pressure on Westminster. The May 2021 Scottish parliament elections will naturally be key to that.

She’ll be setting out her next steps on Friday, so let’s hear what she has to say.

The misunderstanding here is somewhat the same as with the Home Rule issue in Ireland. The idea that Scotland must keep seeking permission and coming cap in hand is what may eventually drive it out of the union. That simple idea was never grasped with Ireland and it would seem Westminster is slow indeed to learn the lesson from it. If Scotland wants to go in the end it will. It may in the end go legally or illegally but if enough support to leave persists then it would leave. Best for all concerned it is via a legal pathway however.

Very true, it’s actually to Sturgeon’s strategic benefit that Johnson rebuffs her initial overtures as it makes the argument on independence for her. She has described the UK this month as a constitutional “prison”.

The political argument for independence is now watertight: consent of the governed, representative government. You won’t believe the number of Unionists who’ve told me in the last few days, "Westminster decides, what can you do?" without irony while their making the best possible case for why independence is necessary.

Scottish voters understand that the EU is an entirely voluntary union. They’ve watched an English and Welsh majority utterly ignore and override Scottish concerns, and repeated democratic exercises, for four years since 2016.

That same English and Welsh majority ia exercising the constitutional right of the UK under article 50 of the Treaty on European Union to secede from the EU.

But Scotland is being denied that right by the Westminster government, which renders the UK union an “involuntary” one.

The existence of the Irish republic, a state that once formed part of the UK and is now successfully leveraging its EU membership to influence trade talks with Britain (backed by its fellow European allies) and has managed to get the latter to keep Northern Ireland aligned to EU standards post-Brexit, makes this situation even more acute. Northern Ireland has a differentiated status under the withdrawal agreement, which gives it single market access for the price of customs checks on Irish Sea, Scotland gets nothing & we’re the most pro-EU of the four nations.

There was no single market of 400 million plus consumers for the Irish Free State to join in 1922.

Consider the difference when Ireland, in 1973, joined the EU. Independent since the 1920s but heavily dependent on the UK.

Today, in negotiations with the UK over Brexit, Ireland has been at the forefront (as the member state most directly affected) and the EU intransigence on either backstop or keeping a single market on the island of Eire was at their insistence.

(continued…)

But look at Scotland by comparison. The Tories are in for a decade or more - a party that won only 25% of the vote in Scotland and has never won a majority here since 1955, when it was actually an independent Scottish run organisation under the name “Unionist Party”, distinct from its southern Conservative sister party. That same party is pursuing a divorce from the EU that 75% of Scots reject.

If consent of the governed means anything, then the political argument for leaving the UK after we’ve been repeatedly ignored by Westminster - doesn’t matter how we vote, our 59 seats are dwarfed by England’s 533 or more - most ignominiously by the Brexit vote, is beyond reproach.

Art. 4 of the Treaty on European Union states: “The Union shall respect the equality of Member States before the Treaties as well as their national identities, inherent in their fundamental structures, political and constitutional, inclusive of regional and local self-government”.

The attraction of the EU model to SNP is clear & genuine on their part: small nations get an equal Commissioner in its executive, an equal seat on the Council for their Head of State as well as ministers in its upper legislature, representation in the parliament & it’s a voluntary union under art.50.

The Treaty of Union of 1707, which forms constitutional basis of UK, by contrast, created an “incorporating union”. We see the democratic deficit of that in Westminster’s denial of the popular sovereignty of the Scottish people as expressed through our elected Parliament & government.

The EU system is designed to give representation to smaller state interests through the structure of the consensual Commission (1 commissioner per member state, regardless of size), European council (all 27 leaders) etc. Its a far better system, politically, for Scots.

I would go so far as to say that Brexit, this Friday, may perhaps go down as the Scottish equivalent of what the British government’s response to the 1916 Easter Rising represented for people in Ireland, albeit a modern non-violent version. It is a tipping point.

And let’s do a ‘wee’ historical comparison exercise here.

Look at Sinn Fein support in Ireland (then still a nation within the UK) in the 1918 UK general election (running on an Irish Independence manifesto), and SNP support in Scotland in the 2019 UK general election (running on a Scottish Independence manifesto):

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I’ll be interested in whether Leo stays after the general election in Ireland. Certainly he seriously irked me with the nonsensical idea of memorializing the RIC which he came out with recently and although as a citizen abroad I can’t vote he has made some serious missteps like that of late. He is also increasingly becoming perceived in Ireland as having little feeling for normal working people and he may find himself ousted.

Sinn Fein are doing exceedingly well in the polls of late. They were second after Fianna Fail in one recent poll.

The other parties said they wouldn’t work with them, but I’m thinking there could be flexibility here with Fail - as Fine Gael is looking increasingly unpopular.

The problem is that Irish politics has two right wing main parties and one (Varadkar’s) committed to a kind of Cameron-style austerity.

Youth voters, apparently, favour Sinn Fein.

I would personally love it if Sinn Fein outperformed expectations and forced the other two parties into a sticky wicket under the PR system. Whatever reservations some voters in the Republic may have with regards their history as a party, we are in a new situation today with Britain coming out of the EU but customs checks now being set up between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

The island of Ireland will be, economically, ‘united’ even though it isn’t yet politically.

They will say they won’t work with them until they have to, a fact Sinn Fein and those parties know very well. Varadkar leaves me cold, his austerity politics are brutal and with the homelessness crisis and other issues I would like to see him and FG (whom my father always call the big farmers party) removed from office.

He is very much an Irish David Cameron, and our homelessness crisis (especially in London) is appalling as well, not even touching the disgraceful disability benefit cuts (the PIP system is degrading and invasive for the chronicly ill).

Luckily, you in Ireland have the opportunity to boot out Fine Gael.

Scotland has not voted conservative since 1955 (when it was actually a separate, Scottish run party here) and yet we are stuck with their brutal economic policies at the UK level, because of their support in England.

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Sadly I live here in London so get to keep up with both homelessness crisises. The situation in London is dire and disgusting in a country with as much wealth as this. It appals me.

I’ve lived in London, and for work purposes frequently move back there to reside for periods. I was there for six months from 2018 - 2019, most recently.

And something haunts me from that most recent stay.

One night, I had to book a late early morning train back to Scotland and I’d just moved out of my London pad. My dad and brother were helping me carry my belongings to board the train from Euston station.

It was like 3 am in the morning and we moved from St. Pancras station to Euston. And the desperation, the severity of the homelessness, rightly hit me that night. We went into this coffee shop, which was the only place open for late-night travellers.

There were floods of people - literally floods - streaming in and out of the shop, begging for coins, or food. The only way I can describe it - and this sounds silly - is that it resembled something out of a zombie horror flick, village of the damned or something.

I had never seen so many desperate people in one vicinity in my life - one girl, she must have been about 15, had dirt all over her hands and looked like she’d just been injecting something in a back alley. She kept repeating, “I’ve got nothin’, I’ve got nothin”.

When I got back to Glasgow, I kinda took a deep sigh of relief.

I love London, but the London I frequent in the day is a very different London from the Dickensian-style penury I witnessed that night.

And its literally horrifying, and only going to get worse with Brexit I fear.

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I work as head of security for a particular company. If I work in the evening I end up wandering around on streets nearby the company where I see tonnes of these types of people. It is like the living dead with regards to some of them, they are zombified on drugs and desperate. I’ve dealt with girls and boys of the age you mention who have been sleeping rough or stoned. I once wandered into the lift to go home and there was a teenage girl performing oral sex on a guy, she had track marks up and down her arms. It was not the first time we’ve encountered that at work but normally the girls who do it jam the lift and unjam it when finished servicing clients. She had forgotten. She was so used to this as her way of life that she didn’t flinch or even particularly cross or upset. She just told me to go away till her client had paid up.

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The then Sky News (now BBC) correspondent Lewis Goodall had a similar experience late at night in a London train station, last year:

It really stays with you, especially if - like myself - London is a city one stays in for periods of time, and so I am often on the late night commute.

And I always dread what I’m going to see next time.

We have really failed as a society and instead of addressing these grave social problems, we are following fantasies like Brexit whilst creating new ones in the process. I look around me and all I see is decline, decline, decline - like Nero fiddling while Rome burns.

Incidentally:

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Sinn Fein, at least, are talking about what needs talked about in this election:

And I think that’s why they’re rising in the polls.

Way above my pay grade to figure out the compromises. But I did say long term I thought the UK was headed toward dissolution. Somewhere in there Johnson has to figure out the path forward for a UK independent of the EU before he has a basis for the transition to an independent Scotland next door. It’s not going to go well if Sturgeon insists on tag teaming with the EU to bludgeon Johnson into keeling over on all points favoring the EU. A good portion of those fishing waters are in the England and Wales territory, but Sturgeon seems to think the Scottish fishing boats should continue to have the same access to English/Welsh waters that they do now. Good luck with that one.

Long term, are the Scots prepared to do without Westminster’s largesse in their budget? For that matter, is Northern Ireland prepared to do without as well?

The Scots shouldn’t delude themselves into thinking they’re the only people who have ever had to put up with a big brother government that doesn’t serve them well. We sure have a lot of that here in the US on both sides. Heck, we got a civil war out of it.

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