"The parallels between the leave campaign and the SNP are ironic as well as instructive"by Jim Gallagher / April 27, 2016 / Leave a comment
Flashbacks are said to be a reaction to stress. So I must have been more stressed during the Scottish referendum campaign than I had realised. Today, I keep hearing the cadences of Alex Salmond in the utterances of Chris Grayling and Michael Gove. The similarities are instructive as well as disconcerting.
The European debate had barely been initiated when Chris Grayling used the S-word. The EU referendum was all about wresting back sovereignty from Brussels. For Scottish Nationalists too, it was all about sovereignty. Both ignore the paradox at the heart of their statements: the fact the people are making this choice is an exercise of sovereignty. If Britain can choose whether to leave or remain, it must be sovereign. If the Scottish people can choose whether to be independent of not, they must be sovereign too. In both cases the fact that you can ask the question answers it.
Sovereignty is the slippiest of concepts. For some in the leave camp, the sovereignty to be recovered is the Westminster Parliament’s. In truth, Parliamentary sovereignty is merely a legal “rule of recognition”—laws properly passed in Parliament are recognised by UK courts, so a Westminster Act repealing the European Communities Act of 1972 would duly be put into practice by the UK courts. This kind of sovereignty has never been lost.
In truth, assertions of sovereignty are simply a reasonably polite way of expressing resent…