What it takes not to leave

The big lesson that I’ve taken from the pre-referendum sales pitches to the Scottish people is that if you threaten to leave a union you get offered all kinds of exciting things.

One after another senior politicians have promised Devo-max, Devo-max-max, greater tax autonomy, greater political autonomy, greater legal autonomy, a free owl etc. And this is to a part of the union which is a net financial beneficiary from the relationship.

I wonder what this says about the UK’s ability to negotiate a better deal from the EU? We have never gone into EU negotiations with the credible threat of withdrawal.

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Seeing what contortions have been performed by the EU to prevent Greece from falling out of the Eurozone, I can’t help but think that Britain, as a net contributor, might just get a decent deal. I’m still not convinced that anyone could negotiate a deal good enough to convince the British people to stay in the EU but if Scotland is anything to go by David Cameron might get close.

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