When the centuries-old British union faces a serious test of strength, and with extremely dim prospects, London is tossing the Scottish nationalists another tool to achieve their goal of independence.
The coronavirus pandemic has seriously undermined the already strained relations between Scotland and England. Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, does not miss an opportunity to criticize London and, judging by the polls, her approach resonates with citizens. Boris Johnson is practically cornered. Today, the number of supporters of Scottish independence exceeds 55%. If the Scottish National Party wins parliamentary elections next year, an independence referendum will be almost inevitable.
In such circumstances, Johnson should have expanded the powers of the Scottish government. Yes, this will reduce the influence of London and untie the hands of the Scottish nationalists, but it will buy time, since now the British government already has enough problems. Is this step risky? Certainly. On the other hand, it is not as risky as London’s ambitions for the UK home market.
When the transition period ends, the United Kingdom will no longer be subject to EU uniform rules. Thus, authority in the areas of agriculture, fisheries, food standards and environmental policy should go to the governments of Great Britain, Scotland and Wales. In London, they think differently, so they intend to appropriate these powers for themselves. The corresponding legislation will be presented in autumn. Moreover, it is not excluded the creation of a special body, which will have the right to repeal any laws that it considers a threat to the internal market.
Officially, the initiative should remove barriers and may even look quite justified. However, before closing the topic, it is worth answering the question of who is hindered by these barriers. Not everything is so simple here. London does not at all hide the fact that it wants to endow itself with exclusive powers to conclude international trade transactions. The UK will really need them when ties with the EU are finally severed. And we know very well who most actively supported Johnson in his endeavors.
Donald Trump, disregarding the norms of diplomatic etiquette, advocated the implementation of Brexit and even promised Johnson a major trade deal.
“We are preparing a very big trade deal. We have never had a very big, such a big deal with Britain, ” Trump said just over a year ago.
Although Johnson echoed the US president, calling the still-failed agreement “excellent,” many were skeptical about Trump’s words. These promises caused cognitive dissonance, given Trump’s obsession with protectionism. In fact, protectionism is the answer.
“The US is aggressive in trade negotiations: it takes a tough stance and puts its own interests at the forefront. They will undoubtedly take advantage of the fact that after Brexit Britain will need a nosebleed trade agreement, ” said Charles Grant, director of the Center for European Reforms.
Brexit advocates wanted Britain to stop being a vassal of Brussels in trade policy. The irony is that she can now become a vassal of Washington.
The United States economy is going through hard times. The coronavirus and trade wars are not promoting development at all. In 2020, American farmers will receive record payments from the government. According to the USDA, they will reach $ 37.2 billion. The Trump administration is trying to make an achievement out of this. In reality, everything is exactly the opposite.
“This is a big problem for agriculture because it is not sustainable,” says Anne Schechinger, senior economic analyst at the Environment Working Group.
The costs of supporting farmers are associated precisely with Trump’s destructive policies. Their growth fell on 2018. Then Washington had to compensate farmers for the losses caused by the trade war with China. Considering that the total amount of subsidies has more than tripled over the past three years, it is difficult to talk about success. Given the situation, we can say that Trump and Johnson found each other. The President of the United States needs a sales market, and the British Prime Minister needs a showy trade deal. But if politicians get some political points, if American entrepreneurs get more exports, what does Britain get?
All Britain’s gains are American products, whose quality standards are much lower than local ones. London’s plans hint to us that the decision has already been made. By empowering itself with food standards, the Johnson government will open up both the English market and the autonomies to the United States. Wales and Scotland have already expressed their dissatisfaction with this. But London has already demonstrated its willingness to use parliamentary sovereignty to overcome the protest of decentralized administrations. In January, Westminster passed legislation to leave the EU, although all three delegated legislatures did not give their consent. If the British Parliament wishes to pass a law on the internal market, it will.
The problem is that Johnson’s ambiguous ambitions could be another trump card up the sleeve of Scottish nationalists. Ultimately, it’s not just about low-quality American products that will feed the country. We are also talking about farmers in Scotland, who will incur inevitable and huge losses. As a result, nationalists can already start writing slogans for the parliamentary elections.