The end of the world as we know it, that is. Still, we survived the world map no longer being pink all over, and we learnt to call Ceylon – Sri Lanka; in fact some of us refer to Peking Duck as Beijing Duck. I doubt that losing a blue stripe in the flag we are too cowedÂ to display will cause any major vapours.
How will Scotland fare? Let’s forget about the oil and how they will save the NHS – and deal with the mundane stuff; the day to day trivia that irritates the Hell out of those of us who ‘live outside the UK’ but were previously known as ‘British’. Welcome to my world wee Jock – it’s not all plain sailing.
For a start, ‘freed from Westminster rule’ – you’ll get 59 belligerent WestminsterÂ MPs dumped back on you – and you’ll have to feed and house them. They’re a fiendishly expensive hobby, used to lavish expenses, and some of them have proved none too honest; we shan’t be contributing to their board and keep any longer – personally, we’ll be glad to see the back of them. I don’t want to depress you too much – but Gordon Brown? Charles Kennedy? Douglas Alexander? All yours – to have and to hold, ’till death doth you part.
I don’t quite understand how ‘independence’ and ‘freed from Westminster rule’ equates with your desire to join the EU and live under the yoke of Brussels.
The former Commission President, Jacques Delors, predicted in July 1988 that within ten years 80% of economic legislation, and perhaps also fiscal and social legislation, would be of EC/EU origin.
At present it’s about 50%. So you’ll only be half free…but if that’s what you want, you’re welcome.
I hope you succeed in your desire to get EU membership, though I doubt they’ll give you some of the special privileges that the UK got – like being allowed to skip out of the Schengen agreement. Monumentally boring stuff, and you’ve probably never bothered to read it – but it’s the bit that allows those of us in Europe to sail from one country to another without ever giving it more thought than, oh, driving from Edinburgh to Carlisle to see your aunty.
It’s the bit that creates those camps full of thousands of Eritreans and Sudanese armed with crowbars at Calais – see, the UK isn’t in Schengen; so the UK was allowed to keep border patrols, and demand passport control. I know it’s a bit of a joke, and widely thought to be ineffective, but when Gretna Green is chock full of returning Syrian jihadists terrorising the neighbourhood, waiting to thump some Weeggie lorry driver over the head in order to have a chance of getting over the border into the UK – and you pull into a newly ‘independent Scottish’ petrol station near the border at midnight and find the pavementÂ covered in sleeping figures in djellabas hidden under a mountain of old rags…wha’d’you mean it won’t happen?
Free movement in Europe and all that, my wee Jock pal, the only reason we concentrate our efforts on the English channel is because that is currently the favoured place of illegal entry – once the word gets out in Bamako that you can ‘just stroll into the UK’ from those beautiful heather covered mountains up in Scotland, and there is nothing stopping you travelling to Scotland – buying a midnight bar of chocolate from your local petrolÂ station will be just as endearing a pastime as it is in Lille, because Hadrian’s Wall will be manned by bullet headed morons in shiny suits waging perpetual war against the North Africans.
(Weary travellers heading for Calais might like to be aware that as of last week, you can no longer pull into any rest station between Paris and Calais – they have all become too dangerous and are now blocked off…only the two big petrol stations 100 miles apart are left – and deeply unpleasant at night; besides being choked with Lorries that have no choice but to stop).
Then there’s all the fun and games you’ll have if you buy a car just over the border – did that pick-up truck for sale in Carlisle look like a bargain? Think on! You’ll probably have to pay cash – I doubt if ‘Wrecks-R-Us’ in Carlisle will take a cheque from the Airdrie Savings Bank; it takes forever and a day to clear a ‘foreign’ cheque – but then the fun really starts – Insurance. See that truck will have UK plates, and in every country governed by EU legislation (you wanted to join the EU, remember?) you will get 30 days to change it to Scottish plates, otherwise you’ll invalidate your Scottish insurance. (No, you can’t insure it in England – you’re not resident in the UK, remember?) You’ll need to pay for a slip of paper called a certificate of conformity (currently about 200 euros) then you’ll need a certificate to say that it’s over six months old so you don’t need to pay extra VAT on it, both from entirely different departments, then you can queue up for hours and hours, whilst someone laboriously checks all the things like engine numbers and engravings on windows….
Ah, you’ll only be buying a Scottish ‘second-hand car’ in future? You won’t have all that trouble? Mmmn, it’ll be like Cuba in five years, same old cars going round and round – or you could buy new of course. What was that Salmond said about everyone being better off under independence?
Then there’s the dog. Nipping over the border to see aunty again? Forget just popping the dog in the car – must be wormed 48 hours before entering the UK, must be microchipped, must have rabies jabs every year, must have its own passport, can only use certain ‘points of entry’ at certain times, to the UK….find yourself a good kennels. Or stay home and forget your English friends and relatives.
So long as you do join the EU, then that ham sandwich on the back seat of the car will be fine, but until you do join, (and if you don’t) then it must be jettisoned, along with any other meat, cheese or dairy products – the rules apply to any products carried in your personal luggage even if theyâre for yourself, bought in a shop, home-grown/made or vacuum packed. Yep, even that Thermos flask of tea…God help you if you’ve got a small canister of gas in your camper van – they get seriously upset at that.
Assuming you do join the EU, then your pension should be fine; if you don’t – then welcome to penury. That UK pension will be frozen the moment you ‘live outside the UK’, you’ll never see another increase – as thousands of UK pensioners currently living in Canada, Australia or South Africa could tell you. I’m sure the Scottish government will make up the difference, but you’ll be pi**ed off at the pettiness of it all, and the bureaucracy involved in sorting it out.
Perhaps you’ve lived and worked in the North of Scotland for a Scottish firm all your life and have no wish to visit the UK or have anything to do with it – that’s fine, understand where you’re coming from. Stay at home, stick a Saltire in your Haggis, just don’t think you’ll be driving south for work or pleasure with the same gay abandon you used to.
I just thought I’d point out that when you’ve grown up thinking you were British and then elected to ‘live outside the UK’, you have some surprises in store for you. Why only last week I was threatened with a ‘pre-paid’ electric meter and then refused a mobile phone contract – why? Because I haven’t owed anyone any money in the UK in the last five years (and I’m not an asylum seeker).
You were only coming down to watch the football? Is it really worth the effort?