Theresa May, The UK Home Secretary, has said that a ‘Yes’ vote in the Scottish referendum would see the UK government putting up passport and immigration controls at the border. Really? Rather than accept a common travel area, as exists with Ireland, the UK government would instigate full international border arrangements – arrangements which exist nowhere else in Europe – on the UK mainland?
Let’s just consider what that would require. First, it would mean new border posts on all roads and rail routes. The new Scottish government, which would want open borders with England, would not interrupt people’s travel into Scotland – they’d say the notion was ridiculous and based upon mindless pique (or it would say Scots were being “bullied”). People would travel to Scotland unmolested – the Scottish government might even pay friendly-looking folk to cheerily wave travellers through at the border. Then, on the return journey, English cops and border staff would stop everyone’s car, every tourist bus. They’d board trains and ask for people’s papers, like in war-movie olden Europe. Queues would add hours hours to the Scotland-England journey.
Second, the Army and Navy, or a new border patrol force, would have to patrol the length of the land border and out to sea. There would need to be a wire, or equivalent surveillance measures, too because the ‘illegal immigrants’ England would be worried about would hardly be crossing at the main crossing points, would they?
And why would England choose to make itself look like a banana republic, pointlessly spend billions of pounds and make itself a laughing stock across the world? Not for reasons of security, because all the security arrangements at present on the UK mainland would still be in place with a common UK travel area. Simply, apparently, to make some kind of weird psychological attack on their immediate neighbours.
And would English taxpayers and travellers stand for that? Would the businesses behind the Tory party accept the logistical nightmare their government wished to inflict upon them? Would the security bods, who know what happens when bordering nation states don’t co-operate, accept such a dangerous situation? No, of course they wouldn’t.
Theresa May, and anyone who agrees with her on this point, seems to be saying that the English response to an ordered and legal separation would be mindlessness, pique, anger, irrationality, and that English taxpayers would be prepared to foot the enormous and unnecessary bill just to ram all of those destructive emotional imperatives home.
And that would just be the start – imagine a UK foreign secretary or prime minister arriving in some overseas hotspot where a border is involved – ‘nah, just whack up walls, wires, border police, bugger everyone about to the max, and put rumble strips under the wheels of commerce – that’s what we do’. I really rather doubt it. In fact, the idea is so stupid, I’m wondering if Theresa May – who holds a job much less powerful than the media often suggests – has been suckered by her putative ‘leadership’ rivals.
I’m a unionist in broad terms, but I’m finding the dishonesty and negativity of the ‘No’ campaign – the way it treats Scots like dummies – increasingly offensive. Ironically, in view of Theresa May’s own comments on the subject in the past, the No campaign is becoming the Nasty campaign.