A sensible speech by Theresa May has been followed inevitability by a lot of strutting around by Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Brexit is the absolute limit, she says. Scotland being taken out of the single market (actually Scotland’s third biggest destination for exports behind the rest of the world, with 64% going to the rest of the UK) is intolerable and there must be a referendum on independence, or her party will go bananas. Not this year, but the implication is that a referendum will happen in 2018 before Brexit.

The gnashing of teeth from the Nats and commentators north of the border on this is something to behold. Even my old friend Alex Massie – writing at the Spectator’s Coffee House – is in despair, lamenting a “full English” Brexit. The UK does have a few cards to play, Alex charitably acknowledges in passing. Yep, it certainly does. The UK is the leading non-US power in NATO and the leading security and intelligence power in the European space. In the City of London it makes the giant eurozone debt machine go round, dominating euro-denominated trading in all manner of instruments and lending. Disrupting that arrangement would be a serious blow to eurozone financial stability. Doesn’t sound very sensible.

The UK’s advantages should not be exaggerated in what lies ahead and a constructive relationship is sought, as May made clear.

Yet all that counts for nothing when it comes to the Nats and their obsession and craving of attention when the world has kinda got a lot of other stuff going on right now. But the SNP’s narcissistic response to May’s speech got me thinking about what their offer is going to be in the Scottish independence referendum to come. They will be proposing the following:

  1. That Scotland departs the UK and applies to get in to the troubled EU, an eccentric move. Spain and other countries with separatist problems are not in a helpful mood either, but fine. Oh and the EU knows it would be taking on a country with a bigger deficit than Greece. And Scotland would have to pay into the EU. It needs net contributors, not net beneficiaries. Awkward.
  2. Scotland to establish its own currency and central bank, or that seems to be the SNP’s idea because Alex Salmond’s “use the pound” strategy crashed in the 2014 referendum. A new currency is perfectly feasible, and an indefinite delay on a decision on joining the euro is possible. But Scotland would end up with a new and untested currency and be forced to borrow a lot on the markets, all while trying to maintain its economic relationship with England.
  3. Trading and cultural split from the rest of the UK, to have the trading relationship with the place where 64% of Scottish exports go negotiated by Brussels.
  4. An independent Scottish government orders the UK to remove nuclear weapons from its soil. That’s the SNP policy. It is holy writ for SNP activists, if not voters although that has hitherto not mattered much. Post-independence Scotland would be a non-nuclear power, although the SNP is now open to joining NATO as long as it renounces nuclear weapons, or something.

Is unilateral nuclear disarmament and separation from the rest of the UK a good electoral proposition in a new age of insecurity, with Putin (praised by some Nationalists) on the prowl and Trump tearing up  the Western alliance? One only needs to pose the question to see that a referendum will not be straightforward for the SNP.

Scots may well vote for independence. Of course they might. Referendums are messy and unpredictable. But their victory is far from guaranteed and the SNP’s plans to reduce Scotland’s defences and expose the country to foreign aggression will probably get quite a lot of attention this time.