This blog suggested that one way around the Brexit issue would be a brief treaty revision that declared England and Wales to be an “overseas territory” of the United Kingdom. That way, the U.K. government keeps a seat at the table while England and Wales leave the single market. The half-Brexited U.K. would, of course, have its representation at Brussels reduced to reflect only the population of Scotland and Northern Ireland, but it would retain a national veto where one applies.
And therein lies the rub. As Callum points out on Medium: “With Holyrood being a subservient parliament in the constitutional order of this country, it can be overruled. Imagine a scenario where the E.U. wants to do a foreign policy initiative that the UK doesn’t want. London has reserved foreign policy, and Holyrood has no right to make foreign policy decision. Yet, Scotland sits on the council and has to vote some way in the council. Say, about sanctions against Russia, for instance. In theory, London could overrule Edinburgh, and force Scotland to vote for or against it. London would then have, indirectly, a veto in a club it didn’t belong to. The E.U. would, of course, have none of that, and wouldn’t accept this situation.”
One imagines that the U.K. could fudge this somehow. After all, this was the country that invented “responsible” self-government, dominion status and the Irish Free State. The question, I think, is whether there is a way that the U.K. can constitutionally make an ironclad guarantee to both Edinburgh and Brussels that Westminster cannot override Holyrood when it comes to voting in Brussels?
That, I think, is the needle that May needs to thread if she wants to keep the U.K. together without provoking a massive backlash from Brexit voters. Ideas?