SCOTLAND, England, Wales and the EU are unhappily tied together in a constitutional Gordian knot. Scotland wishes to be an independent country in the EU, but independence from the UK does not get Scotland there. So, Scotland is still in the UK. England and Wales (the old Roman province of Brittania) wish to be an independent country completely and cleanly out of the EU, but the Parliamentary arithmetic means that England and Wales just cannot get there if they must drag a justifiably reluctant Scotland along with them. The combination of the failure of the first indyref and the current Brexit debacle appear to suggest that this knot is simply impossible to unravel.

There is a solution: Brittania (rather than Scotland) must leave the UK. If Brittania leaves the UK, then Brittania is an independent country completely and cleanly out of the EU. Brexit accomplished (for the nations of the UK that want Brexit). If Brittania leaves the UK, then Scotland is the UK and the UK is still an independent country in the EU. Scottish independence accomplished (Northern Ireland will have to decide which way to go).

There is no alternative solution to the UK’s constitutional conundrum that gets Brittania out of the EU while keeping Scotland in the EU. So, there is a Tory/Brexit Party/SNP deal to be done here, and the time to do this deal is now – 2021 (or whatever the date the SNP currently has pencilled in for indyref2) will be far far too late.

Although independence lost, the first indyref showed that the Union between Brittania and Scotland is dead. The people of Scotland think of themselves primarily as Scottish rather than British, and Yes lost only because of the completely legitimate fear that economic chaos would follow if Scotland left both the UK and the EU. As an English Tory, I wish that the people of Scotland were ideologically and emotionally committed to the Union. But they aren’t. This being the case, there is no moral justification for denying Scotland its independence.

Yet, it is not clear that a majority of the people of Scotland would feel able to act on their desire for independence in indyref2 if independence does once again mean leaving both the UK and the EU. And Scottish independence would mean leaving the EU—on this point the EU could not be clearer. To be sure, an independent Scotland could apply to join the EU just like any other country, and just like any other country Scotland could expect to spend a decade or so mired in accession talks before getting in.

Scotland would opt for independence if an independent Scotland could somehow instantly join the EU. EU membership is therefore the key to Scottish independence. As it happens, the UK has an EU membership that England and Wales do not want. So, the logical and sensible way to resolve the UK’s constitutional conundrum is to transfer that EU membership from the parties that do not value it to the party that does. And the only way to do that is for Brittania to leave the UK.

Will Brexiteers be willing to go down this path? Given a choice between a clean Brexit for England or preserving the Union with Scotland, Tory Party members overwhelmingly choose clean Brexit. Nigel Farage will “do a deal with the devil” to get a clean Brexit, and the deal I am proposing here is far better than that. Boris Johnson is absolutely committed to making clean Brexit happen (realising that failing to do so will destroy the Tory Party), so he will do what needs to be done. To be sure, it is true that Jeremy Hunt “would never allow our precious Union to be divided”. But he is going to lose the leadership race anyway, so it will not be his call to make. Brexiteers will end the Union if that is the way to a clean Brexit.

The facts are these: the SNP is an essential part of the anti-Brexit coalition in Parliament. Given SNP opposition, the Grieve/Hammond/Rudd Remainer wing of the Tory Party can and will block a clean Brexit for the UK as a whole. But, Brexiteers have (or will have after the next General Election fought by a Tory/Brexit Party alliance) a clean Brexit majority in Brittania alone. The shape of the independence for Scotland/clean Brexit for Brittania deal is therefore clear: the SNP must offer to support a Tory/Brexit Party initiative to obtain a clean Brexit for Brittania by first revoking Article 50 and then taking Brittania out of the UK.

Independence for Scotland and clean Brexit for Brittania are there for the taking if the SNP, the Brexit Party, and the Tories are willing to act quickly and boldly. Carpe Diem!

Kevin R. James