Scotland

Trump’s win could be very bad for the SNP and Scottish independence

The UK for all its flaws looks like a pretty good bet in dangerous times

BY Iain Martin | iainmartin1   /  11 November 2016




This is a very short post, because I have to get ready to go see Scotland beat (or maybe not) England at Wembley. But of the many implications that flow from Donald Trump’s astonishing victory this week, in terms of foreign affairs and ‎dramatic changes to US economic policy, one far down the list merits a little attention.

Donald Trump’s victory could be very bad for the SNP and those who seek to make Scotland independent. It was already doubtful that Scotland would vote to leave the UK after Brexit. For all the SNP witters on about the EU, England is by far Scotland’s biggest export market. Voters could choose to ignore the economic risks of separation – of course – ‎but after the disruption and adjustment of Brexit will a majority of Scots really want to blow up the country’s key economic relationship with England?

Anyway, ‎Scotland’s voters must be exhausted. They’ve had the divisive referendum of 2014, the general election excitement of 2015, the bitter Brexit experience in 2016 and now they are, along with everyone else, digesting the election of Trump. Are they really going to be up for even more upheaval?

Trump’s win adds a further layer of complexity, risk and uncertainty. It emboldens Russia and crazy populists in parts of the EU, ahead of elections in France for example. French politics has been quietly going even more bananas while we’ve all been transfixed by the US election.

The Hungarian-led insurgency on migration and defending “christian values” is not going away either. Meanwhile, fresh from its success in the US election the Russian spying and cyber warfare machine has a new main target. That’s Western Europe and the EU.

The EU was pretty rickety before Trump. It now looks even less robust despite the claims of the Panglossian Europhiles of the SNP that the EU is somehow the model of the future.

The UK for all its flaws looks like a pretty good bet in dangerous times. It has trading and diplomatic clout; it has a military (not enough of it, but still); and there is the Channel (island status makes the UK lucky). Against that, at a moment of dangerous global uncertainty, the SNP pitch will be that Scotland should leave the UK to try and negotiate its way into the burning building that is the EU. Perhaps it will appeal. Unlikely though.