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Friday, 23 March 2018

A question of two Unions – and Brian Cox on Question Time

Unpublished Letter to Herald 21 March 2018

Dear Sir/Madam,

Brian Cox's Question Time remark on Scotland, the Union and England provoked a reaction on the programme and subsequently, as he countered the false parallel drawn, and the implied contradiction between Scotland's wish to remain in the European Union and its wish to leave the Union with Great Britain - and dared to mention England in that context.

Firstly, a couple of incontrovertible facts -The UK - or an independent Scotland in EU - can take a unilateral decision to leave that union at any time by giving due notice (UK has recently done just that with Brexit.). They don't need EU's permission, and neither does any member state - all they have to do is invoke Article 50.

Scotland, in contrast, having surrendered all sovereignty to England in 1707. was (and is) locked into a Union that it could only exit with the King of England's permission then, and with the Prime Minister of UK's permission now, backed by The Scotland Act - or leave by a unilateral declaration of independence after a Scottish Referendum held without UK's permission.

Our 'glorious Union' was formed by armed conquest of Wales and Ireland and by initial failed attempts by England to conquer Scotland by force of arms (failing decisively at Bannockburn) then by a sordid mixture of economic intimidation (Darien) and bribery that led to a voluntary union that was much opposed, and subsequently derided, in 1707 and subsequently contested by an armed revolt (Culloden), one that was brutally crushed.

Brian Cox's reference to England was relevant to both earlier history and present realities. The Union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the rump of an English empire formed by conquest,economic intimidation and bribery. The European Union was created by free men and women with a great vision of free association and mutual benefit of the free sovereign nations of Europe in the aftermath of the second devastating European conflict in the 20th century.

There is no valid comparison whatsoever between the two unions.