Light-touch border between Ireland/NI and the UK could be a model for independent Scotland

The 'Windsor Framework' doesn't change the underlying reality that Northern Ireland has what Scotland wanted and voted for - access to the EU single market. But it does streamline the light-touch border between Ireland/Northern Ireland and the UK - that could be a model for an independent Scotland. 

Rishi Sunak is “over the moon” that Northern Ireland will have privileged access to the EU single market as well as the GB market - does that sound familiar? Scotland used to have that too!  Sunak effectively admitted that Scotland is now at a competitive disadvantage to Northern Ireland. 

Sunak's excited proclamation of the benefits of being in the single market and the UK market certainly rub salt in the wound for Scottish businesses who are counting the cost. 

“Nobody else has that. No-one” Certainly not Scotland!

Launching the renegotiated NI Protocol, an excited Sunak said: “Northern Ireland is in the unbelievably special position - a unique position in the entire world, on the European continent, in having privileged access not just to the UK home market which is enormous, but also the European single market. Nobody else has that. No-one. Only you guys here. And that is the prize….That’s like the world’s most exciting economic zone!”

Brexit minister Steve Baker - who has been pushing Brexit for years - proclaimed that Northern Ireland has the best of both worlds: “What an extraordinary opportunity for Northern Ireland: dual access to both markets!” 

Labour leader Keir Starmer has also pledged to back the NI deal as part of his commitment to “make Brexit work”. He has repeatedly ruled out rejoining the European single market or customs union or bringing back freedom of movement. 

Scotland is being disproportionately affected by Brexit

In a recent post we quoted Scottish businesses who are increasingly angry although their voices are not being heard on our TV news stations. They include:

  • Whisky tourist operators who can sell only one bottle to EU visitors
  • Fishermen who can't export or swap quotas
  • Food and drink producers who can't export to the EU
  • Hospitality operators who say the lack of seasonal workers is harming the industry
  • Farmers who are struggling with the increased cost of imports and exports

Brexit is a major factor in the shortage of fresh produce and the increased cost

The pound was worth € 1.40 at the time of the Brexit vote - now it is € 1.13. That makes food imports more expensive and Brexit red tape has made it more expensive and difficult to import food. Production at home is also down because support for farmers that was part of the Common Agricultural Policy and EU food policy in general is no longer in place. 

Brexit has added to inflationary pressures facing the UK and Scotland 

Brexit has led to a shrinking of the UK economy by at least 4%, with some estimates putting it as high as 5.5% - amounting to more than £100 billion a year. At the time of the Brexit vote, a pound was worth $1.48. The fact that it is now worth $1.21 adds to background inflation - oil is bought in dollars for example. 

The 'Windsor Framework' shows independent Scotland could trade freely

The only way that Scotland can rejoin the EU is through independence. No major UK government supports rejoining the European Union. There is plenty of evidence that Scotland would be able to rejoin on the fast track, which should take up to three years. 

The 'Windsor Framework" streamlines the light-touch border between Ireland which is in the EU and the UK which is not. That border is effectively down the Irish Sea but it is now being operated with minimal friction and shows that an independent Scotland in the EU could use the same framework.


Further reading

"Three years on, Brexit still an unmitigated disaster for Scotland" report