The last post (quoting Callum’s Craic) pointed out the biggest problem with keeping Scotland and N.I. in the E.U. while letting the rest of the U.K. secede: who would control the U.K.’s representatives in Brussels? Sure, it is easy to say that they would come under the joint control of Edinburgh and Belfast. But in a country based on parliamentary sovereignty, that is hard to do.
One solution is to cobble something together in the great British tradition: that is, have everyone sit down and agree that Holyrood (or Holyrood plus Belfast, in some weird joint operation) will control the U.K. seat on the European Council. That might satisfy the country’s European counterparts. Or it might not: after all, the British parliament could renege on the deal with a single vote.
Thus, the second solution, proposed by Brendan O’Leary, would be to remove Britain’s seat on the European Council. Scotland could continue to elect representatives to the European Parliament, since those representatives, once elected, are not beholden to their home government. (The picture in the last post was taken behind the Parliament building in Brussels.) Similarly, Scotland could continue to choose one commissioner on the European Commission, since those commissioners, once selected, are also (supposedly) not beholden to their home government. The Council, however, represents home governments directly. If the Europeans refused to allow the U.K.’s council seat to be filled by a subnational body, then the U.K.’s council seat would have to go.
The problem with both solutions lies on the European side, rather than the British one. Since the Treaty on European Union specifically lists all the associated territories, rather than leaving it as only a broad category, then a treaty change will probably be required. That means unanimity on the European side. (In fact, even if treaty change is avoided in order to circumvent messy ratification referenda, unanimity would be required.) Spain is already likely to be a problem, if for reasons that exist only inside Rajoy’s head. Other countries may be equally reticent, for their own reasons.
Sadly, discussion over at A Fistful of Euros seems in deep freeze, part of the general decline of the blogosphere. I would love to know what the authors and commentators over there think about “reverse Greenland” and the survival of the U.K. after Brexit. What is the real prospect of a kludge to keep the U.K. united and England out?