In a predictably canny piece of writing, of the kind academics prefer, there are, however, one or two clear indicators that divorce from the UK might be much less troublesome than Brexit is. As when looking for a dropped toy in a ball swamp, you need to stay calm and sharpen your vision for phrases that go beyond the hesitancy and qualified reservations, to suggest something promising.
On the economy, Hughes writes:
‘[S]cotland would lose a significant net fiscal transfer from the UK on independence. But the costs of Brexit – impacting on the UK even before it leaves the EU – are, according to most studies, many times bigger than this. And the UK would still have to pay some amount to the EU to participate in the various programmes and agencies that Theresa May has indicated it may wish to.’
On trade agreements:
‘Scotland would not face the challenges the UK faces to replicate or replace all the EU’s international trade agreements and other treaties. Rather it would join those agreements once it acceded to the EU.’
On the, for the UK, thorny issue of Ireland:
‘[T]here is no independence equivalent to the challenge posed by the Northern Ireland backstop to Brexit politics.’
So, overall, leaving the UK, even after 300 years, looks considerably less problematic for Scotland, than leaving the EU does:
‘Compared to Brexit, it is likely there would be less uncertainty along a number of key dimensions if Scotland were aiming to rapidly join the EU. Much of Scotland’s future relationship with the UK would then be determined by the UK-EU relationship (which might hopefully be clearer in the next 2-4 years as the UK transitions out of the EU).’
This is from a leading academic, whose boss, Professor Michael Keating, is one of those federalists who seem prepared to remain tied to the foreign policy of a post-imperial delusional Britain led by people like that Hunt who recently insulted the Slovenes and those many who think the Irish are getting a bit uppity and need reminding who is in charge.
I’m guessing someone like this might allegedly be the one who might have sidled up to Nick to say: “The Irish really should know their place.”