Scotland, Brexit & IndyRef2: Implications, considerations and similar (including impact on rail).

Falcon1200

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I am English but lived in Scotland for an extended period, and whether or not you agree with it, Bletchleyite is absolutely right: independence is an inevitability, barring something seismic.

I am English living in Scotland for the last 38 years but I must respectfully disagree; The National newspaper delights in publishing polls showing support for independence at 50 plus whatever per cent..... but they never ask me. Regardless of the current Scottish administration's (in)competence regarding health, education, ferries etc, the SNP has never answered fundamental questions which would affect everybody in an independent Scotland, such as currency, border controls, etc. And their economic case for independence in 2014 was based on ever increasing North Sea oil revenues, which the SNP is now dead set against ! Should there be Indyref 2 (and I hope there is not, as the question was asked in 2014 and the populace chose to remain part of the UK and therefore accept the UK's policies and decisions) when the hard questions are asked, and not answered by the SNP, in my opinion support for independence will waver when faced with harsh reality.

Edit; To get back on topic, just one of the multitude of issues needing to be agreed in the event of Scottish Independence would indeed be the status, rights, and operational and security status of cross-border rail operators, especially if Scotland did succeed in joining the EU. What if Scotland and the UK adopted differing immigration policies, for example - Border checks at Gretna and Berwick ?
 
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simonw

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Though equally you would have expected the Brexit negotiations should also have been much simpler as the UK was fully aligned. Despite that the EU insist on the full process.
because the UK made it clear that it wouldn't maintain that alignment post Brexit.
 

Starmill

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Though equally you would have expected the Brexit negotiations should also have been much simpler as the UK was fully aligned. Despite that the EU insist on the full process.
The ask from the UK negotiating team was always freedom to diverge from EU standards and legal structures. I'm unsure what else they could have done.
 

Chester1

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split from this thread:

I'm not surprised you're getting pushback on this, but I think all of that sounds extremely sensible. I'd argue that the partnership that already exists between ScotRail and Network Rail has been relatively successful, and there's no reason to believe it couldn't be even more so with full integration. The only thing I'd amend is that in this ideal world I'd prefer cross-border trains to be joint ventures, rather than wholly the responsibility of Rail England (or whatever it ended up being called).


I am English but lived in Scotland for an extended period, and whether or not you agree with it, Bletchleyite is absolutely right: independence is an inevitability, barring something seismic. An overwhelming percentage of the younger generations (and even then, not that young) are resolutely pro-independence. More importantly, a significant minority of pro-union voters hold that view much more softly than some people would like to think. Scotland is moving in a different direction and few who have lived there would credibly try and deny that, regardless of their leanings.

No passports are required to travel within the island of Ireland. I doubt Scotland would be any different. Its economy and relationship with England would I reckon be pretty much the same.

The relationship between UK and Irish Border controls are a century old necesscity. It has obligations that are a pain in the backside for both sides. Ireland blocked about 500 people last year from entering the republic for the stated reason that they were believed to be intending to travel illegally into UK. Border Force don't publish the numbers but they have to do the same, especially for arrivals in Belfast. After a United Ireland by far the most practical solution would be seperate border controls and a Trans Tasman style treaty replacing the Common Travel Area. Everyone travelling between Ireland and GB has to do some form of check in, passport controls are only a minor inconvenience on top of that.

The issue with Scotland having shared border controls is basically trust. Would London or Edinburgh governments really trust each other to implement border controls? I am not convinced that the SNP would be prepared to follow England's lead on border policy after independence, as (mostly) Ireland continues to do. An English government wouldn't follow Scotland's lead. Its a negative for independence in a referendum but after a Yes vote many might privately be relieved by the prospect of Scotland having full control over its borders, whether permanently or to enable it to join Schengen.

I don't expect they'll want to visit, if this is the response they get when trying to have a discussion.

Do you know many people whose holidays last longer than 180 days? That's a generous holiday entitlement! Regardless though, people in Scotland who wish to retain their British passport (and vice versa) will absolutely be allowed to, so it's moot. There's no political reality in which that doesn't happen, for all sorts of reasons.

I don't like an aggressive attitude towards Scottish nationalism but the "British" passport argument is misleading. If UK government tells the truth they will be accused of bullying Scots. Thersea May hinted at this once in parliament in 2014 and was immediately accused of it. While initially British Citizenship would continue, why wouldn't remainder of UK want its own citizenship in the long term, especially if its quickly reduced further to just England and Wales? I would support a jointly issued British Passport / travel document but I would want citizenship of my country to be limited to people who can reasonably claim to be English or Welsh by birth, residence or parentage. If Wales then went independent I would expect English Citizenship to be created. Why wouldn't a country of England have English Citizenship? I would expect the same sort of criteria for rUKs Citizenship as SNP suggests for Scotland. I.e. offered to any British Citizen resident in the remaining territory at time of Scottish independence + British citizens born in remaining territory + anyone with a parent from the remaining territory. Even under Putin, Russian citizenship is not a continuation of Soviet Citizenship.

Perhaps another option would be for both parts to agree to maintain British Citizenship for people alive at time of independence but with everyone granted Citizenship of one or both successor states depending on their situation and birth. There are currently 4 dieing categories of British Citizenship and Nationality that are the result of the break up of the British empire, so the precedent is there.

I would prefer the 4 parts of the UK to stick together but a silver lining of its break up would be the opportunity for England to re-imagine itself as a medium sized, globally open country similar to Canada and Australia. For me that must include a civic based new citizenship for what would in effect be a new country. Its not realistic to expect England (or England and Wales) to act as the UKs rump state for long. I certainly don't think it will be politically viable for Scots to be Citizens of England (or England and Wales) but not other way around.

In terms of relevance of all this to railways there would be two options. Either two companies or one joint company for cross border services. Passport controls (or lack of) wouldn't change that. That question would affect the number of economically viable routes.
 

najaB

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Though equally you would have expected the Brexit negotiations should also have been much simpler as the UK was fully aligned.
And had we agreed to remain aligned the negotiations would have been done with time to get down to the pub for a quick pint.
 

Gareth

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After a United Ireland by far the most practical solution would be seperate border controls and a Trans Tasman style treaty replacing the Common Travel Area. Everyone travelling between Ireland and GB has to do some form of check in, passport controls are only a minor inconvenience on top of that.

If that happens, I don't see the justification for any Trans Tasman type arrangement. Ireland could then join Schengen and we could treat it like any other third country.

Regardless, the status of Northern Ireland makes no difference to rail services in Great Britain. Scotland is a different kettle of fish though and those who think it isn't are in denial.
 

permarquis

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I am English living in Scotland for the last 38 years but I must respectfully disagree; The National newspaper delights in publishing polls showing support for independence at 50 plus whatever per cent..... but they never ask me. Regardless of the current Scottish administration's (in)competence regarding health, education, ferries etc, the SNP has never answered fundamental questions which would affect everybody in an independent Scotland, such as currency, border controls, etc. And their economic case for independence in 2014 was based on ever increasing North Sea oil revenues, which the SNP is now dead set against ! Should there be Indyref 2 (and I hope there is not, as the question was asked in 2014 and the populace chose to remain part of the UK and therefore accept the UK's policies and decisions) when the hard questions are asked, and not answered by the SNP, in my opinion support for independence will waver when faced with harsh reality.
Just to clarify, my post wasn't commenting on the practicalities of independence, or whether it would be a good thing. I also don't think independence is imminent, and if another vote is held in the next few years it would probably lose.

I do however think that there are some unavoidable demographic realities that, barring a huge change in opinion, will tip the balance firmly in favour of independence in the medium term. The polling bears that out, and so do my experiences in Scotland. Significantly, the pro-independence vote can't be dismissed as the preserve of very young voters: it's prominent in the working age population. The strongest pro-union demographics tend to be the very oldest ones, and that's going to be a real challenge for the pro-union vote.

Most (though not all) of the things you're citing are an argument against the SNP's record, which isn't the same as an argument against independence. In fact it's quite likely that in an independent Scotland the SNP would recede, as their voting base is a coalition of different political perspectives that will find more natural homes elsewhere once the dominant political issue is resolved.

While I think the comparisons between Scottish Independence and Brexit are overstated, in one important way I do think they are similar. Proponents of both are well aware that changing the status quo may come with a cost, but ultimately feel that such a cost is worth it to achieve a greater goal. That's a valid view to have, even if you disagree with the greater goal, and it means emphasising the risk of independence may not be as effective as you believe. Brexit was also a big risk, and we know what happened there.
 

permarquis

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Whereas up here we have the Saltire appropriated as the symbol of Scottish nationalism.
English nationalism and Scottish nationalism come from two very different places, and really aren't as comparable as you're implying. While it is obviously true that there are some Scottish people who do use it as a vehicle for ugly tribalism, this is far from the norm. Scottish nationalism is broadly a progressive project, despite the term implying otherwise.

When I lived in Scotland I met quite a lot of other English people who had shifted to a firmly pro-independence opinion. Clearly, given most would describe themselves as British or English, they didn't come to that opinion through any traditional sense of Scottish "nationalism".

I see this happen time and time again with people who are pro-union (and, for the record, I don't have a settled view one way or the other). English nationalism and Brexit are not as applicable to this issue as many think, and constantly looking at it through that prism misunderstands the pro-independence vote. It really isn't about flags for the vast majority.

Then the Tory leader would have been overthrown, replaced by a hardliner, beaten Corbyn and we would have still had a hard Brext.
Maybe, but that situation was specific to Brexit. The point is that Scotland would have every incentive to make negotiations as straightforward as possible, and there wouldn't be a powerful, hardline anti-EU block trying to sabotage that process in the Scottish Parliament.
 

317 forever

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The new independent Scotland government may be able to vertically integrate their railway, but this may depend on EU Directives in the plausible scenario that Scotland rejoins the EU.

I would expect the Independence Agreement to require GBR and the wider Scottish Rail Authority to work together to allow cross-border trains. These may be outlawed north of Edinburgh (and of course Glasgow Central) for operational simplicity. There is also a question of whether Sleeper trains continue. This may need to be contracted out due to their long section in England - although of course TfW services with long sections in England are no longer contracted out.
 

maniacmartin

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Regarding mikeg's opening post, I think lots of people go through periods where they feel life isn't "working out" for them and are looking for some sort of change - I know I certainly do. But then a few months later I can be feeling very content and motivated. For me the feeling comes and goes. Its easy to think the grass is greener on the otherside when it might not necessarily be. However if you scratch the surface, you'll see that all countries have problems, not just the UK. You're probably more aware of the problems here by virtue of living here though.
 

Falcon1200

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Scottish nationalism is broadly a progressive project, despite the term implying otherwise.

Again, I would have to disagree, given my personal experience, living in Scotland, of the day-to-day failings of the SNP given that their primary focus is, and always will be, separation from the UK. The polarising effect of the Independence debate is, despite a resounding No vote in 2014, which should have been the end of the matter (for a 'generation' at least as a senior SNP politician declared - that didn't last long) is as bad as it has ever been.
 

Falcon1200

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While I think the comparisons between Scottish Independence and Brexit are overstated, in one important way I do think they are similar. Proponents of both are well aware that changing the status quo may come with a cost, but ultimately feel that such a cost is worth it to achieve a greater goal. That's a valid view to have, even if you disagree with the greater goal, and it means emphasising the risk of independence may not be as effective as you believe. Brexit was also a big risk, and we know what happened there.

Brexit was indeed a big risk, and that was breaking away from a union which the UK had been part of for only around 40 years - Not 300 ! And look at the trouble Brexit has, and is still causing, despite the only land border being that on the island of Ireland. It is my personal opinion that the apparent support for independence is, in part, driven by Scottish distaste for the Tory party, and in particular its current leader, but he won't be there forever, and I do honestly believe that when the implications of independence are spelled out, people will realise that sometimes the grass is not greener elsewhere. But who knows what the future holds ?!!

These may be outlawed north of Edinburgh (and of course Glasgow Central) for operational simplicity.

The cross-border operators who run north of Edinburgh (there are none going beyond Glasgow Central) provide useful, high capacity services within Scotland, as well as the links to England, so are worth retaining on that basis. What would actually happen to cross-border traffic flows in the event of independence is of course another thing.....
 

Bletchleyite

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The cross-border operators who run north of Edinburgh (there are none going beyond Glasgow Central) provide useful, high capacity services within Scotland, as well as the links to England, so are worth retaining on that basis. What would actually happen to cross-border traffic flows in the event of independence is of course another thing.....

Domestic services all across Europe are provided by international trains. It is a non issue unless someone wants to make a political point by making one of it.
 

Noddy

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Probably worthy of a thread of its own once we know if/when the second independence referendum is announced, but I'd expect the timeline for Scotentry to be relatively compressed as Scotland is already pretty well aligned with EU norms and rules.

As you say probably worthy of its own thread, but the elephant in the room is would an economically pragmatic independent Scotland actually want to join the EU? Given that the SNP described Brexit as a bomb being thrown under the Scottish economy, I don’t see how rejoining the EU will make things any better given that the (r)UK will be by far and away an independent Scotland largest trading partner. Rejoining the EU will result in a bomb the other way under the Scottish economy, not to mention a hard border having to be imposed between Gretna and Berwick.
 

najaB

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As you say probably worthy of its own thread, but the elephant in the room is would an economically pragmatic independent Scotland actually want to join the EU? Given that the SNP described Brexit as a bomb being thrown under the Scottish economy, I don’t see how rejoining the EU will make things any better given that the (r)UK will be by far and away an independent Scotland largest trading partner. Rejoining the EU will result in a bomb the other way under the Scottish economy, not to mention a hard border having to be imposed between Gretna and Berwick.
It comes down to if you look at EU membership just in terms of trade.
 

johncrossley

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Obviously the Common Travel Agreement is still in force, so Ireland is an option but the cost of living seems ludicrously high and the wages for my current line of work - a supermarket team leader (not sure I don;t want to gradually change career too though) do not seem to match.

Living costs do not have to be a barrier. Where do immigrants to the UK (and Ireland for that matter) often go? The big cities like London and Dublin, even though they are the most expensive options. Of course, you have to be prepared to live in a shared house with lots of people. So I wouldn't discount expensive areas, even Dublin, if you find that you can get a better job there. If someone can move from a poor country like Romania to Dublin then so can someone from the north of England. Obviously lots of people move within the UK to London even though it is expensive. You just have to be frugal.

Living costs are higher in Ireland than the UK, but so are wages.

I would echo the comments of others that the grass isn't always greener on the other side.

Conversely, a lot of people who leave have no regrets. The only way to know is by doing it.

Well quite, although that's almost redundant because I don't think they'll even let you in the country to work without one (or significant savings). That said, university tuition is free there, even for international students, so if you can find a course to take you, that's one way to get your foot in the door.

@mikeg mentioned Germany and they have free or cheap universities as well. After you finish your studies you can get a visa that enables you to live there for a while afterwards while you look for a job. If you find a job then there is a good chance that you can get your visa extended until you are eligible for permanent residency.
 
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Howardh

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Before Covid I was offered a new build one-bed flat in Gibraltar for £750/month. Covid hit before I could take that further, I dread to think what thew will charge now - but Gibraltar would have been perfect, no health cost worries, same banking system, same everything as the UK. However as they look to joining Schengen, then ex-UK residents will need the full-on Schengen Visa going forward, unless something can be done to give UK citizens full access to, basically, our own country.
 

Noddy

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It comes down to if you look at EU membership just in terms of trade.

Absolutely as individuals we look at the EU in terms of more than just trade (hence Brexit and the undoubted economic damage it’s caused). But I very much doubt that a responsible independent Scottish government can believe, looking at the data, that rejoining the EU would, in the round, be a benefit. I suspect joining the EU would be gently kicked into the long grass in an independent Scotland at least until the (r)UK rejoined, as a minimum, the single market.

As a parallel Ireland was desperate to join the EEC and applied in the 1960s. However it knew that economically it had to join at the same time as the UK to avoid a hard border in the Irish Sea and when de Gaulle vetoed the UKs application in 1963 it forced Ireland to withdraw its own application.
 
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AlterEgo

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Before Covid I was offered a new build one-bed flat in Gibraltar for £750/month. Covid hit before I could take that further, I dread to think what thew will charge now - but Gibraltar would have been perfect, no health cost worries, same banking system, same everything as the UK. However as they look to joining Schengen, then ex-UK residents will need the full-on Schengen Visa going forward, unless something can be done to give UK citizens full access to, basically, our own country.
Gibraltar is not even "basically" our "own country", as the preceding part of the sentence aptly illustrates.

It's a British Overseas Territory, like Bermuda, Montserrat, South Georgia and the British Antarctic Territory, none of which attract the same colonial attitude as Gibraltar does.

Absolutely as individuals we look at the EU in terms of more than just trade (hence Brexit and the undoubted economic damage it’s caused). But I very much doubt that a responsible independent Scottish government can believe, looking at the data, that rejoining the EU would, in the round, be a benefit. I suspect joining the EU would be gently kicked into the long grass in an independent Scotland at least until the (r)UK rejoined, as a minimum, the single market.

As a parallel Ireland was desperate to join the EEC and applied in the 1960s. However it knew that economically it had to join at the same time as the UK to avoid a hard border in the Irish Sea and when de Gaulle vetoed the UKs application in 1963 it forced Ireland to withdraw its own application.
Indeed, secession and accession is a total fantasy and pursued only by the truly intellectually dishonest. These people have complained - with some justification - that Brexit caused no end of problems, disruption and uncertainty, put up barriers to trade within the United Kingdom, and has harmed businesses.

These people now want to erect, by fiat, a hard customs border between Scotland and England, and aren't even sure what currency they're going to use if they become independent or what sort of armed forces they'll have. Scottish Independence is Brexit Plus, the ultimate in constitutional, economic and social upheaval, but there are people who just want to plough on, get the vote, and sort it all out later. Well I'm sorry but most of those people have spent five years lodging complaints about Brexit using the same approach.

Scotland needs a proper national conversation about what, exactly, independence means, and to decide in advance what it will look and feel like and sort out all of the very important details like whether you'll be using your own banknotes or the Euro, and how you intend to man a hard customs border and justify its existence to the 60% of trade that goes to the other parts of the UK.

Scottish independence does not have momentum because it is not rooted in legitimate grievance. Scotland was in fact a very enthusiastic participant in empire and the flattening of ethnic populations elsewhere for the country's own enrichment. Irish unification is rooted in historical grievance, and has momentum, but no serious commentator in Ireland says "right let's have a border poll, we've no idea what the 32 county Ireland will look like but we'll sort that all out later".
 
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najaB

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Scottish independence does not have momentum because it is not rooted in legitimate grievance.
What gives you the authority to decide the legitimacy of other people's emotions and/or thoughts?
 

RT4038

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Domestic services all across Europe are provided by international trains. It is a non issue unless someone wants to make a political point by making one of it.
It will only become a problem if the Common Travel Area (CTA) is dismantled, in which case I would imagine the cross-border services will become like E* with juxta positioned border control in Glasgow and Edinburgh and the trains running non-stop to the border. Quite what would happen in this scenario with local trains from the likes of Dumfries to Carlisle - I guess that there would be a new border station constructed and all the passengers alight and go through border control (with possibly the through trains stopping to pick up only as the 'connection'), or perhaps they would cease operating in their current form and the trade given over to buses as no substantial special infrastructure over private car traffic would be required for them.
Whatever, it would be hugely disruptive to travel patterns, particularly in the reverse direction, in which case I guess there would be an awful lot of international passengers changing trains at Carlisle and going through border control there (It being too expensive to provide Scottish immigration clearance at anywhere further afield more than London, Birmingham and Manchester?). Similarly at Berwick, possibly Newcastle on the other side.
However, this is all a bit speculative (as befits the Speculative Ideas section), as it is probably unlikely that the CTA would go, at least in the short to medium term.
 
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102 fan

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As regards nationalists, it seems to me, to misquote Orwell;

'Scottish nationalism good, English nationalism baaaaad'
 

najaB

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As regards nationalists, it seems to me, to misquote Orwell;

'Scottish nationalism good, English nationalism baaaaad'
I think it's because English Nationalism has been co-opted by the Far Right/White Nationalism movement to the extent that the two terms have become almost interchangeable for many. This hasn't happened to nearly the same extent in Scotland.
 

ainsworth74

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Then the Tory leader would have been overthrown, replaced by a hardliner, beaten Corbyn and we would have still had a hard Brext.
At least there's finally some admission that the Brexit project was more about internal Tory Party politics than anything to the wider benefit of the UK.
I think it's because English Nationalism has been co-opted by the Far Right/White Nationalism movement to the extent that the two terms have become almost interchangeable for many. This hasn't happened to nearly the same extent in Scotland.
Quite, it's rather hard to be an English nationalist or even a patriot when it feels like anything to do so brings instant association with the English Defence League thugs or Tommy Robinson (Stephen Yaxley-Lennon) and has band of merry idiots. I find myself far more closely associated to feeling British than English precisely for that reason!
 

Falcon1200

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I suspect joining the EU would be gently kicked into the long grass in an independent Scotland at least until the (r)UK rejoined, as a minimum, the single market.

I'm not so sure about that, given that a major reason for the SNP's demands for Indyref 2 are that 'Scotland didn't vote for Brexit' !
 

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The CTA is not likely to be dismantled for Scotland. Being in Schengen would neither particularly benefit Scotland nor the EU because there is no land border between Scotland and the EU. It would pose an issue if England remains entirely out, but I would be unsurprised to see England join EFTA in the medium-term future (as it's still "leave" but would solve most of the issues), and if it did that would mean no particular need for a border per-se.
 

102 fan

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I think it's because English Nationalism has been co-opted by the Far Right/White Nationalism movement to the extent that the two terms have become almost interchangeable for many. This hasn't happened to nearly the same extent in Scotland.


So there's no anti English sentiment in Scottish nationalism? Living in N Ireland I know only too well how much hatred Nationalism can generate, without any difference in skin colour. Do Scottish Nationalists hate England or not?
 

RT4038

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The CTA is not likely to be dismantled for Scotland. Being in Schengen would neither particularly benefit Scotland nor the EU because there is no land border between Scotland and the EU. It would pose an issue if England remains entirely out, but I would be unsurprised to see England join EFTA in the medium-term future (as it's still "leave" but would solve most of the issues), and if it did that would mean no particular need for a border per-se.
You may well be right, but speculating the Armageddon scenario is far more interesting!!!
 

alex397

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I’m sure there is some anti-English sentiment from a minority, but most Scots I meet are anti-Westminster rather than anti-English.
 

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