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Van Rompuy’s No Deal alert leaves SNP exposed

Terry MurdenScotland’s energetic Brexit spokesman Michael Russell, who has been campaigning vigorously on the dangers of No Deal, has been thrown a curve ball by the former Belgian Prime Minister.

While Mr Russell warns that Scotland is facing a ‘No Deal Brexit nightmare’, Herman Van Rompuy, who was European council president until 2014, thinks No Deal would be good news for the separatists, telling The Observer that he believed that Britain crashing out of the EU without a deal could force the break-up of the UK.

Mr Russell is sticking to his script, but chaos in Westminster is surely good news for the SNP. Mr Van Rompuy has seen how it fuels demands for independence and that the prospect of No Deal is an “existential threat to the UK”.

So why aren’t the SNP’s supporters cheering Mr Van Rompuy as a champion of their cause? And if leaving the EU without a deal helps achieve independence why are the party’s leaders so keen to retain membership?

That’s because they know a truly independent Scotland which is also out of the EU would struggle to make ends meet.

Last week’s GERS report on Scotland’s expenditure and revenue has its faults, but it clearly points to a country living beyond its means. And that’s with the support it currently gets. Without it the economy would face an even tougher job driving up growth and tackling the already high deficit. That would imply more public spending cuts and higher taxes.

No wonder, therefore, that the SNP hierarchy wants to cling on to the EU. It would provide the vital subsidies that Scotland would lose by leaving the UK.

Mr Russell will therefore have good cause to continue calling for some sort of deal with the EU, even if it falls short of his demands for continued membership of the single market and customs union.


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