I like Alex Salmond. He’s overweight, he looks a bit like a panda that’s wandered in front of a camera lens and he’s totally unflappable. Besides which, he has this idea that Scotland would be better off as an independent nation within Europe. He always adds that last bit – “within Europe”. And now that David Cameron has managed to put Britain outside the tent with the rest of Europe pissing out on him, Salmond has been handed an opportunity to further query the wisdom of continued presence in the UK.
Just back from China where he was trying to drum up investment in Scotland, Salmond has fired off six questions to Cameron about his arse-like performance in Brussels. In essence they ask “What the hell do you mean by screwing up prospects for Scotland as well as the rest of the UK, without even consulting us?” He tells Cameron that it’s not just his coalition partners the Lib Dems that are very dubious about being pushed to the edge of Europe, there are the people of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland who have been left stranded in the same leaky rowing boat.
Good point. I presume we haven’t heard yells of protest from Stormont because the DUP and Sinn Féin are the two lead power-sharing partners. We know what Sinn Féin thinks of the deal in terms of the south of Ireland – Gerry Adams has been telling Enda Kenny he’d better let the Irish people make this decision. But Sinn Féin in the north are more muted because the DUP are almost certain to hold back from kicking Cameron.
Why? Because they see the danger. If Salmond was ever to succeed in his ambition of achieving Scottish independence – and Cameron’s bulldog-balls-up in Europe has considerably strengthened that ambition – it would spell curtains for the area known as the United Kingdom. What would be the point in staying in a building that has started to collapse around your ears, while at the end of the street there’s a 26-storey building that at least has the strength of numbers?
It’s like that old megalomaniacal headline from the London Times, when heavy mist was engulfing the south of England and the Channel, making travel impossible: “Fog Cuts Off Europe From Britain”. Has anything changed?