Let Brexiteers make their decisions

General election in ScotlandWill Scexit come after Brexit?

Street election campaign in Edinburgh. Conservative MP Miles Briggs wants to talk to voters in the middle-class neighborhood of Prestonfield. He's lucky with this elderly lady. She has just cut the roses in her front yard in the bright sunshine, now she is asking the politician for a favor. Your neighbor is in trouble with the community. They refused to give her an organic bin. She applied for it too late. Miles Briggs will take care of it right away.

Everyday life drives people

The neighbor hasn't quite finished telling her garbage problem when the conservative campaigner picks up his cell phone and goes through his address directory to find the right contact person. Everyday worries: Trouble with the administration, bad roads, a lack of leisure activities for young people: These are the things people are worried about before the parliamentary election on May 6th, Miles Briggs is convinced, and not the question of whether it will be seven years after the last another referendum on Scotland's independence is to be held.

(picture alliance / empics / Jane Barlow) Scotland - out of Great Britain and into the EU?
Brexit fueled the Scottish independence debate. A slim majority is currently in favor, and the Scottish National Party wants to use this momentum. But is it possible to remain in the EU in this way? (Status: 03/20)

Keep voting until you like the result: Miles Briggs thinks it's undemocratic. In 2014, 55 percent of Scots chose to stay in the Kingdom. A referendum that should last at least a generation. However, shortly afterwards there was a deep turning point: Brexit. Against their will, the Scots had to leave the European Union with the rest of Britain. That is why they have a right to be asked again, think the nationalists. The conservative campaigner Briggs himself voted against Brexit in 2016. Now he is against the Scexit, the departure of the Scots from Great Britain. Together we are just stronger.

"This whole pandemic has shown the importance of acting as a bigger country. We protect more than a million jobs in Scotland with short-time working benefits. We have the best vaccination program in the world. Those are the advantages of being part of a larger whole, as part of Great Britain. "

Corona and Brexit dominate the election campaign

Gorgie in west Edinburgh is more urban, less tidy, poorer than Prestonfield. Here Angus Robertson campaigns for Nicola Sturgeon's Scottish National Party. Robertson was born in London to a German mother and a Scottish father. He used to be a journalist and later a parliamentary group leader of the SNP in the lower house. Now he wants to steal the constituency of Edinburgh Central from the conservative Tories as a direct candidate. For this he is only 610 votes short. And he fights for them resolutely.

"We voted 62 percent in Scotland to stay in Europe. We are Europeans. Passionate Europeans. The whole Brexit experience is an absolute disaster for Britain as a whole. But we have a way out. We have a lifeboat."

And on this the Scots want to sail back to Europe as quickly as possible after their independence. Robertson does not accept the fact that Scotland, in conjunction with England and its successful vaccination program, got through the pandemic better as an argument against independence.

"Yes, some countries have made better decisions. That is also the case in Israel. That does not mean that we have to be governed from London."

(AFP / Andy Buchanan) Journalist: Scots no longer want to be England's cheerleaders
Many Scots wanted to have their own say on the world stage, says BBC journalist Andreas Wolff. Nevertheless, the country is divided over the future direction. (Status: 05/06)

Corona and Brexit: These are the issues the election campaign focuses on. In the pandemic, Scotland's Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon appeared more reliable than the long-wandering Prime Minister in distant London. An election for the Scottish National Party is an election against the Prime Minister and his Tories in Westminster. This is how the nationalists advertise when they knock on apartment doors and hand out their leaflets. Angus Robertson's campaign manager explains how to do this to a volunteer.

"You knock. And you say: I'm sure you know there's an election coming up. The race is particularly close in this district. So let's make sure that Nicola Sturgeon wins it and that Boris Johnson gets kicked out with his Tories." "

BBC presenter: "People don't want a new referendum now"

This choice won't clarify anything. It will be an expression of impermanence. So says Jim Naughtie, Scot, political correspondent and presenter for the BBC, one of the UK's best-known radio voices.

"This election is paradoxical. The SNP will get the most votes. But at the same time, most people do not want a new referendum now."

Votes for the SNP could be something like a vote in advance: A yes to Scexit, Scotland's exit from the Kingdom, but only later, when the citizens have recovered halfway from the recent crises. Nicola Sturgeon has already announced that he will wait until after the pandemic. She wants to be sure of a clear majority in favor of leaving before she dares a new referendum. The talk is currently 2023. The time until then, recommends Jim Naughtie, should use the anti-independence opponents to reflect. So far they have categorically said no to a new referendum. No is not enough. You have to make alternative offers. Especially the youth who are enthusiastic about independence.

"Young people don't take away the idea of ​​a magical Britain with magical powers. They may be convinced that a functioning kingdom with no customs borders and so on makes sense. But they want something different. They want something that reflects their identity more closely . "

The Scottish Conservative Douglas Ross with Ruth Davidson in front of Stirling Castle (dpa / PA Wire / Andrew Milligan)

And it's not just the boys who want a divorce from London and the Tories that rule there. Quite a few in the middle age groups see it that way, the many EU citizens living in Scotland, including the LGBT community, People of Color and many more. Scotland has not voted Conservative since 1955.

Consent from both sides required

"Scotland is simply a different country," says the German-Scottish professor Tanja Bültmann, who teaches history in Glasgow. Unlike Wales and Northern Ireland, Scotland has a long tradition of sovereign statehood that continues to this day. In 1707 the Scots united with the English. Under constitutional law, their union is based on "consent", the general consent of all those involved. But now the Prime Minister wants to prohibit the Scots from being asked whether they still want to be there. So he wants to force her, says Tanja Bültmann indignantly.

"In my opinion, Boris Johnson does not have the right to forbid that. What kind of situation is this here? A dictatorship where you are told what you can do?"

"By consent", however, works in both directions. Just as the Scots are part of the kingdom only voluntarily, so they are only allowed to vote on their departure in agreement with England. A referendum without Johnson's approval would be illegal and would likely thwart Scotland's return to the EU. It is therefore a matter of urging the Prime Minister to "consent". And with a democratic majority that is so convincing that he can no longer politically refuse. The elections now are therefore a referendum over the referendum. If the SNP wins an absolute majority, the matter is as good as decided, says John Curtice, political scientist at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow.

"David Cameron made the Brexit referendum possible with an absolute majority. An absolute majority allowed Boris Johnson to really leave the EU. You have 50 percent and more in Westminster or you have less. Those are the rules. And who that Taking a sword must also be ready to die by the sword. "

Similar arguments: Scexiteers and Brexiteers

John Curtice is known as the "opinion polling guru". He is to UK elections what Paul the Octopus was to international soccer tournaments. The last four general elections went exactly as he predicted. Now he predicts that the SNP will miss an absolute majority. Not only has the party lost approval in recent weeks, but also the idea of ​​independence itself. For months, a majority of the Scots were stable for it. Now it's fifty-fifty. But was it different with Brexit? And did that stop London from leaving the EU? Not at all. In the end, it was the national upsurge that made the difference.

"It's an act of faith, like Brexit. Do you or don't you believe that it is better to make your own decisions, not to share your sovereignty with anyone? And so in the end to be socially and economically better?"

(imago images / Julien Marsault) Scotland - plan for second referendum
The displeasure with Brexit is particularly great in Scotland. According to polls, there could now be a majority in favor of Scottish independence. Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon is therefore considering holding a second referendum. (Status: 01/21)

It is astonishing how similar the arguments of the Scexiteers are to those of the Brexiteers. A hard border between Scotland and Great Britain? Let's solve with digital technology. Less structural aid than before? We no longer have to transfer taxes to London for this. The loss of the most important market for your own economy? Not so bad, we will be back in the EU internal market. This is how it goes non-stop. Only with the opposite sign. This is a sad irony, says Holger Hestermeyer, an expert in international trade law at King’s College in London.

"I saw a very high-level discussion in which the Vote Leave representative said repeatedly that it would be economic suicide to leave the common internal market. And the EU-friendly representative of Scotland said it would all be exaggerated. And economically it could too It would be a great advantage to leave the single market. They didn't mean the EU single market, they were talking about the UK single market. And I'm not sure the two speakers were aware of how strange the discussion seemed to the audience. "

Scotland is not a poor country

Should Scotland be an independent country? The question that the SNP would like to ask the citizens again could not be formulated more simply. Ian Murray is a member of the House of Commons for the Scottish Labor Party and against the Scexit. For his part, he has a simple question for those who want him:

"Of course Scotland can be independent, any country in the world can. It's what kind of country we are and how we pay our bills."

Scotland accounted for 90 percent of electricity generation from renewable sources in 2019. Now it's probably 100 percent. (imago / Photoshot / Construction Photography)

Scotland is not a poor country, but it is interwoven with the rest of Britain in a number of ways and financially dependent on London. The renowned London School of Economics has calculated that Scexit can be three times more expensive than Brexit. Even if Scotland becomes a member of the EU again. Independence presumably comes at a high price: falling social spending with rising taxes. At least for the foreseeable future. Do the Scots already know that? Not exactly. In 2018, economist Andrew Wilson wrote a business plan for Nicola Sturgeon. After Corona, however, it is wasted. But Wilson remains confident. His vision is a sustainable country with ecologically valuable industries. What Scottish oil promised before its price slump is now promised by Scotland's renewable energies: prosperity for all.

"Take Denmark: They pay more taxes than in the UK. But they are 40 percent richer. It is possible to decide for yourself how strong a state wants to be. And at the same time to have a thriving economy that serves the population."

(dpa / picture alliance / Artur Widak) The anger of the British fishermen
More than half of the catch by British fishermen has so far been exported to the EU. After Brexit, the goods no longer cross the English Channel in a timely manner and spoil. Less than two weeks after the UK left the EU, the effects on trade were noticeable.

In the county of Argyll and Bute on the Scottish west coast, they are still grappling with the consequences of the latest decision of national importance: Brexit. A good 200 kilometers lie between Edinburgh and the coastal town of Oban, between the economist Andrew Wilson and the fish exporter Paul Knight: It's a whole world. In 1998 Knigth founded PDK Shellfish. The company specializes in delivering live seafood to restaurateurs in southern Europe. Langoustines, prawns, lobsters, lobster crabs, crabs, mussels, sea snails: fishermen around the Scottish islands catch all of this and deliver it from their boats directly to PDK on Oban quay.

Right next to it, in a large hall, the catch is sorted by hand. Plastic baskets with air holes and a grid partition inside. Paul Knight's employee Stan sticks a single shrimp into each of the small compartments. Dead crustaceans excrete a poison from which their conspecifics die if touched.

"One of the fishermen just brought them in, Paul Knight explains. We have to check every compartment for dead shrimp. We throw them out. Then we refill the baskets so they are the right weight for the customers."

Transport delays endanger live cargo

The baskets are brought from the hall to the trucks that take them to the European continent. Huge metal basins are lined up on the left and right in the hold. In between oxygen generators: The water in which the crustaceans lie must always be adequately ventilated. With the complex transport, PDK Shellfish serves a niche that lives off wealthy gourmets in France and Spain. And about the fact that the animals get to their customers quickly enough. It used to work smoothly. Paul Knight's lorries left Portsmouth on ferries and landed again in Caen, France. From there they drove south. Just like that, everything in a reasonable time. But since Brexit, there has been an external EU border between the British Isles and France. And the port of Caen is a border crossing. What exactly is going on there?

The disaster for PDK Shellfish consists of transport delays of five or six hours: Because the trucks are jammed in front of the checkpoint and because the customs officers need hours to check the shipping documents. Recently the French customs officers simply forgot the waiting PDK drivers and called it a day. The shellfish died - an enormous financial loss for Paul Knight.

"I don't do this much longer. I'm tired. I have to work every weekend. The Brexit costs, the Brexit troubles. I have to pay more salaries, we have more administrative work. I've been looking at my balance sheets since January 1st : And they fall. They fall and fall and fall. "

Paul Knight was against Brexit, one would think. In fact, it was a draw. And that's it again now. Should Scotland get out of the UK? Is a border with England better than one with the EU?

"I'm fed up with politics and referendums. Yes, maybe we could then go back to Europe. But does that mean that my children have to grow up with a border in Carlisle? I don't want that either."