Yesterday, the Scottish government published its ‘plan’ for life after Brexit. It was, at 60 or so pages, more detailed than anything we have yet seen from Theresa May’s ministry. But then it would be, given that Nicola Sturgeon will not be leading the UK’s negotiations as and when they begin. Still, plenty of nationalists crowed that, whatever else might be said of the Scottish government’s document, at least Sturgeon has a plan. But so did Baldrick.
That a plan exists does not make it a good plan. Or even an achievable one. And since we are still in the early stages of the Brexit waiting game the Scottish government’s proposals have the advantage of novelty but freshness is not enough either. There will be other plans and, by God, we must hope some of them are better than the one published by Ms Sturgeon.
Because it wasn’t so much a plan as an exercise in wishful thinking. It might, it is true, be in Scotland’s economic interest to remain a member of the European single market even if the UK government eventually proposes to trade with the EU on WTO terms. But, as I write in the Times today, there are few, if any, grounds for thinking it’s in the interests of either London or Brussels to agree to the SNP’s demands. Just as the Brexiteer ultras blithely assume the UK can get everything it wants, so the SNP typically forgets other parties have interests too. Interests they will defend.
This is doubtless disagreeable but there it is. Reality sucks just as much as it bites. In any case, as my colleague Kenny Farquharson observed, the Scottish government’s proposals take account of only two Brexit outcomes: a UK wholly outside the single market or a UK entirely within it.