Martyn Richard Jones
San Lorenzo de El Escorial, 3rd September 2016
On the 23rd of June the UK held a popular referendum. The question posed to the people was: “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?” A simple choice between remain or leave.
Leave received more votes than remain, at 52% versus the 48% who voted for remain.
In more detailed numbers we are talking about 46,500,001 people who were enfranchised to vote in the EU Referendum on 23rd June out of a population of 65,110,000[i]. Of those registered to vote, 12,948,018 of the electorate did not bother to vote (27.84%); 16,141,241 voted to remain (34.71% of the total electorate); and, 17,410,742 voted to leave (37.44% of the electorate).
The difference between the Brexit and remain votes, as a percentage based on the total electorate, was 2.73%
So, the Brexit vote won, and it looks like the Tory Government will take the UK out of the EU, and will not find too much opposition from the current Labour Party in doing so.
However, there are is a problem. In fact there are two problems. One of them is called Northern Ireland and the other is Scotland. In both countries, the majority who turned out on the day voted in favour of remain – 55.8% in Northern Ireland and 62.0% in Scotland. The only other region having a majority in favour of remain being London (with 59.9%).
Nicola Sturgeon of the Scottish National Party, and First Minister of Scotland, obviously has to place Scottish interests before anyone else’s, as this is also her job. It is also why she has been floating the idea of a second independence referendum for Scotland. Justifiably so, based on the solid argument that the first referendum was lost based possibly due to the argument that an independent Scotland would have to reapply for membership of the EU, which would be made extremely difficult, whereas being part of the UK was the guarantee that Scotland would always be part of the EU. A promise that is now not worth the digital media it was recorded on.
Given the political landscape in the UK, it seems that it is inevitable that Scotland holds another independence election, with quite possibly a majority support for independence.
But hold up one moment. If Scotland wants to be in the EU, why should it be Scotland that has to jump through hoops to re-join the EU?
Indeed, why on the other hand should England and Wales have to jump through hoops for a decade in order to leave the EU?
So, this significant set of challenges has lead me to propose, the Martyn Jones Solution[ii]!
So, the major political actors in the UK should come together in the spirit of unity and common good, and do the following:
- Declare that the Parliament of Scotland has equal authority to the Parliament of Westminster in all matters not related specifically to England.
- That the First Minister in Scotland has the same authority to represent Scotland before the EU as does the Prime Minister of the UK Government (Theresa May).
- That England and Wales declare unilateral independence from the Union.
- That Scotland and Northern Ireland continue to subsume international agreements made by Westminster.
- That England and Wales will be immediately outside of the EU and no longer considered a member of the EU.
- There should be a freeing up of restrictions and obligations in order to allow for England and Wales to enter into any negotiation withs anyone they consider opportune, and without any hindrance from the EU and from what remains of the Union.
- There should be a clearing-away of any road-blocks, barriers and red-tape standing in the way of Scotland and Northern Ireland continuing as full members of the EU.
If Theresa May has the courage to take England and Wales out of the UK, then this is what she should do. Because, this is the outcome that many Brexit voters wanted. They voted to leave, not to ‘sort of leave’ or ‘kind of leave’. Leave is leave. So, the government of the UK should do the right thing, and choose the Martyn Jones Solution, rather than burden Scotland and Northern Ireland with an outcome they did not choose.
So, what about the Unions (Northern Ireland and Scotland’s) position with regards to the EU?
- What about the legislation? In terms of overall agreements nothing has changed. The agreements between the UK and the EU are already in place.
- What about budgetary arrangements? The EU can accommodate that. It’s like a national disaster in which 75% of the population is wiped out. But a scenario in which both Scotland and Northern Ireland escape any of the fallout.
- Obviously Northern Ireland and Scotland cannot participate in the same way as a country with a population of 65 million, but the EU would naturally adjust the parameters so that Northern Ireland and Scotland would not be unduly penalised and would continue to both contribute to the EU and enjoy the full benefits of membership.
So, there you have it. All so much easier, quicker and cleaner than the Article 50 complications that May, Johnson and Davis are preparing to battle.
Finally, remember that this is a solution (the Martyn Jones Solution) that should satisfy almost everyone. Except possibly the ‘remainers’ in England and Wales, who could hopefully apply – if they so desired – for New Union passports (from Edinburgh or Belfast), as some clear safeguard against the excesses of an uncertain future in a country (England and Wales) that has clearly decided to leave the EU village, forever.
Please feel free to critique the solution and suggest any tangible, coherent and cohesive improvements and additions.
Many thanks for reading.
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[i] At least 5 million adults if voting age in the UK did not have a right to vote in the referendum. Also, UK subjects abroad also did not have the right to referendum.
[ii] I am of course a big fan of the rather brilliant Mark Steel