Scotland is unlikely to push for a second referendum in the event of Brexit, one of the UK’s leading Eurosceptics insists.
Dan Hannan said the case for Scottish separation was weaker now than in 2014.
He told the News Letter: “Think about the circumstances of the last referendum: the SNP got to set the question that they wanted – I would love this question to be ‘Should the UK be an independent country?’ They got to set the question they wanted, they got to rig the franchise, in a results-driven way, and even despite the crappest unionist campaign imaginable they couldn’t win when oil was at its peak price. So they know that opinion has swung since then – the last poll showed far more unionists in Scotland even though everyone knows that Brexit is a possibility.”
Mr Hannan’s Conservative Party colleagues including David Cameron, the former prime and foreign ministers John Major, see here, and William Hague, have expressed fears that Brexit could fuel Scottish nationalism.
Mr Hannan said: “There’s no linkage between those two questions except insofar as the SNP might choose to make one, but why would they want to have a second referendum if it is going to reproduce the outcome of the first one?”
The Tory MEP added: “Both euro integrationism and Scottish separatism really got going in the 1970s as a response to the same thing which was the decline of the UK brand ... we were collapsing, decolonising ... Isn’t it at least possible that the renewed sense of national purpose and optimism that will come after Brexit will boost unionist sentiment in all parts of the UK?”
Mr Hannan was in Northern Ireland on Friday and Saturday for engagements including a debate with the ex Secretary of State for NI and EU trade commisioner Peter Mandelson, who backs Remain (the first parts of our interviews with both men were published on Saturday and Monday).
Lord Mandelson said of the rise of nationalism: “I think people who live in the real world and in the 21st century way in which we have to make our living, both in Europe and the rest of the world, know that nationalism is not the answer to any of our social or economic problems.”
He added: “English nationalism or Scottish nationalism or Irish nationalism – we don’t live and work or produce any more in silos.”
He said: “The hard-headed economic facts of life for Northern Ireland are largely European. That is where the bulk of NI goods and services that are exported are sold.”