Former prime minister Sir John Major, the Tory politician who surrendered significant parts of the British Constitution to the European Union in the 1992 Maastricht Treaty and turned Her Majesty’s subjects into “citizens of the EU,” yesterday lectured the Scots that they could become “irrelevant” in the EU if they voted to leave the United Kingdom and had to negotiate entry as an independent state.
He said that the chances of Scottish first minister Alex Salmond being able to convince other EU member states that Scotland should retain the UK’s multi-million pound rebate and its opt-out on VAT and the Schengen open borders policy were “nil. That’s just fatuous [given] the sheer difficulty and blood that went into getting the opt-outs, and the rebate is under constant challenge.”
“This will be a new nation coming into the EU. They will have to join the queue. They will have to negotiate and they will have to agree to all sorts of things.”
Though Major did not say it, these “things” would include the Maastricht Treaty which he negotiated and signed, and which, in the words of Conservative Thatcherite Norman Tebbit in a debate in the Commons after the treaty negotiations, established “a series of bridgeheads into our Constitution, into the powers of this House and into the lives of individuals and businesses.”
Major, speaking in Edinburgh, said Scotland’s entry to the EU “may take years – and may be probable – but is by no means certain.”
He said it would be “folly” for Scotland to expect to become independent yet keep the UK’s influence in the EU.
The extent of the alleged “influence”, however, is this week looking more dubious than ever, as Prime Minister David Cameron appears bound to fail in his campaign to stop the euro-zealot Jean-Claude Juncker becoming president of the European Commission.
Earlier this month, in another failure of British influence, attempts by the Government to exempt British banks from the EU’s rules to curb risky trading failed when EU lawyers issued an opinion that the exemption would be illegal. Britain had earlier lost a challenge in the EU’s European Court of Justice against an EU law giving the bloc’s markets regulator powers to ban short-selling.
Major also warned Scotland about damaging NATO and wrecking the nuclear deterrent: “When the SNP threaten to expel Trident from Faslane, they not only undermine the UK, but NATO as well. America would not forgive – nor forget – this, and yet the separatists assume membership of NATO is almost a given.”
The BBC reported Stewart Maxwell, a Scottish Nationalist member of the Scottish Assembly, saying that the former prime minister “unwittingly, makes the case for independence himself by pointing out that the Tories rule Scotland with just one MP out of 59. But John Major is just about the last person the ‘No’ campaign will have wanted to see entering the debate here, given his track record in ensuring a Tory wipe-out in Scotland in 1997.”