IF Johnson’s deal scrapes through, then the most enduring fog in the history of meteorology will lift and the major points of contention for our second independence referendum will quickly clarify too.

An independent Scotland shall require a regulatory border with Johnson’s England if he is pursuing sweet trade deals with America, other nations and supra-national groupings while we remain in the EU’s single market. This I predict will be the Unionists’ first argument against independence. They will blame the border on independence but we will blame it on England leaving the single market. As in all things remotely Brexity, you believe strongly what you want to believe. Who is right though?

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Our borders out of Scotland to the EU, whether to Ireland or to continental Europe, will obviously require no trading regulatory checks if we stay in the EU, but those same borders will see regulatory checks spring up if we stay in Johnson’s UK. However, an independent Scotland with EU membership will see regulatory border checks emerging at the English border, mirroring those at the Channel Tunnel and indeed at all English ports and airports. So the simple truth is that we face having a regulatory border from the Solway Firth to Berwick because England chose to fully leave the single market. And those new regulatory border checks all around England and Wales will vanish quicker than a spring morning mist if our southern neighbours belatedly see sense and rejoin the single market, tails between legs. It’s a Brexit border all right.

Winning the argument over responsibility for the hard border isn’t going to make it any more popular however. But the English border posts only go up at the same time as we keep the Irish and European ones open. That balance has to be insisted upon when Unionists complain about the need for a border. You could say that we win that argument 2-1.

Reduced trade with our biggest market shall, I predict, be another main weapon in the Unionists’ indyref2 armoury. But if we’re in the EU, we’ll trade with England on exactly the same advantageous terms as all other EU member states, but with the added bonus that we have the only land border into England from the EU. Trade will be different all right – Brexit entails complex, time-consuming form-filling – but it won’t dry up and the land border presents enormous opportunity so long as we’re in the single market and England is not. I’m confident that international firms, especially those involved in manufacturing, will set up shop in Scotland precisely to trade overland with England if and when the hard reality of Brexit begins to bite. When opportunity knocks, business will literally spring up to answer the door.

Recent opinion polling indicates that most Scots believe we shall be economically better off if England leaves the EU and we are still members. We must build on that newfound optimism by destroying the Unionist arguments – arguments which, let’s face it, they’ve cynically and disingenuously crafted simply to undermine any insurgent national self-belief. Confident, patient rebuttal of falsehoods are key. I’m sure that this time around, we can win over the doubters. Now, First Minister Sturgeon, just get us that indyref – next year will do rather nicely.

David Crines

READERS won’t be surprised if the latest “deal” gets through on the basis of people being exhausted by Brexit. Such an approach is understandable given the way Brexit has been presented by both Westminster and Holyrood. However, it forgets why we should be concerned. Although the EU might not endear us by the way it has treated the people of Greece who voted against austerity or the people of Catalunya who advocate the case for self-determination, it does have the leftovers for democratic and trade union rights and limits the free range of a USA-style neoliberal economy!

Norman Lockhart