I've gone dark again on the blog because I'm still wrestling with the space opera that refuses to die (it's due out in July 2018, instead of your regular scheduled Laundry Files novel, so getting it ready for my editors is climbing my priority list). Meanwhile, if I was blogging, I'd be blogging about the high political drama of the past week in the UK.
First, rumors began spreading that, with the Brexit Bill passing parliament and due to get the Royal Asset this Thursday, Theresa May is planning to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty before the end of the month. (Great timing, that: right on the fiftieth anniversary of the Treaty of Rome.) Jumping the gun a little bit, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon announced her intention of seeking a second Scottish independence referendum during the Brexit negotiations. This, predictably, provoked an angry reaction from the Prime Minister, who had hitherto been utterly ignoring Scottish, Northern Irish, Welsh, and other regional requests for some input on the process: a second independence referendum would be divisive and cause huge economic uncertainty at the worst possible time for Britain said a spokesman for the woman trying to implement divisive policies causing huge economic uncertainty as the result of a referendum question (which Scotland comprehensively rejected).
Negotiations with Scotland are still possible, it seems, but it looks as if Sturgeon has a game plan and is playing at a much higher level than the Conservative Cabinet in London, who are so feckless that they hadn't bothered with contingency planning for what to do if they can't strike a trade deal with the EU despite having isolated themselves diplomatically and pissed off the people they'll have to negotiate with from a position of weakness.
This time round, the referendum (I'm calling it a near certainty that there'll be one: the only real question is whether it'll be before or after Britain exits the EU in, probably, April 2019) is going to be rather interesting. There's a sharp demographic split between young and old in Scotland, with support for leaving the UK at 72% in the 16-24 age range (who get to vote, if they want to) and as low as 26% among the over-65s (pensioners, who do vote). Overall, support for independence per the Social Attitudes survey is at its highest ever level, and still climbing: probably a more accurate view of the picture than snapshot polls commissioned by the news media.
The arguments are different, too. Scotland's economic outlook today looks a lot bleaker than it did in 2014, and that's not good: but the big factor that swayed voters to the "remain" camp back then—better the devil you know than the devil you don't—has been shattered by the spectacle of the lunatic fringe of the Conservative party in full Brexit hue and cry. There are sucky economic prospects in both directions. Meanwhile, Scotland is increasingly out of step with England on a political and cultural level, but pretty typical of the rest of Northern Europe: if anything it's England that's the weird outlier. The question is, which shit sandwich is less unpalatable? England seems set on driving off a cliff; should Scotland ride along in the passenger seat or take its chances elsewhere?
Meanwhile, the IndyRef campaigning can't not start during the Brexit negotiations—arguably, it has already unofficially started: it's certainly going to dominate political debate in Scotland for the next couple of years—so the government in Westminster will be put in the impossible position of simultaneously defending the right of a nation to leave a larger federation, regardless of the economic and social uncertainty this causes, while opposing exactly that position in another context.
This of course assumes that we're looking at a two-way Prisoner's Dilemma game. Obviously, we're not: it's a 27-going-on-28-way game (Sturgeon has implicitly dealt herself a hand of cards at the table) and it's going to be interesting to see whether the various EU members decide to use Scotland as a club to beat Westminster with, or if Westminster positions Scotland as its cherished sickly child in a cynical game of Munchausen's Syndrome By Proxy. And of course we can expect lots of FUD rhetoric about how Scotland will have to reapply for EU membership and go to the back of the queue (clue: there is no queue—nations seeking membership proceed independently of one another).
If I didn't live here, it'd be hilarious! Except I live here and Brexit has so far devalued my savings and pension assets by, oh, about 20%, and I stand to lose another 20% on top as Sterling loses its unofficial status as the EU's reserve currency after the Euro, because the brainless flag-frotting morons on the Conservative back benches think that they can go back to the rosy days of the 1920s with some batshit plan to build Empire 2.0 out of the former Commonwealth (Planet Earth calling: the Commonwealth only put up with us 'cause we were a gateway to the EU: as an imperial power we were no less hated and loathed than all the rest) and rule the world by exporting tea, jam, and biscuits (US: cookies).
So I'm putting my head down and working for the rest of the day. At least I mostly get paid in US dollars, and President Tantrum hasn't (yet) managed to crash the greenback.
(Final: moderation note: Greg Tingey, I'm banning you from commenting on this topic because I know your opinions on Scottish independence and your grasp on the reality of what it's like up here (hint: in the nation I've lived in for over two decades) is so bizarrely warped that I don't think you're capable of contributing anything worthwhile to the discussion. Sorry. You're not banned from the rest of the blog; just here.)