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Dru, Davidson and Destiny

The most surreal moment of the General Election so far might be my telling Ruth Davidson about Drusilla andin Biggar High Street the other day.

The most surreal moment of the General Election so far might be my telling Ruth Davidson about Drusilla and Buffy the Vampire Slayer in Biggar High Street the other day.

Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, was in Biggar helping David Mundell hold onto his seat in the constituency of Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale. He is the one and only Conservative MP in Scotland, the Scottish National Party (SNP) is heading for probable dominance in the Scottish Parliament, possible influence in a hung UK Parliament and may well help ensure there is no referendum on European Union (EU) membership in 2017.

So these are pivotal times. Scotland may change from being a one-party Labour state to a one-party SNP state and the UK either as a whole or in splintered parts may continue, without dispute or negotiation, to become more integrated within the European Union.

If there had never been a Scottish referendum, I would be solely and clearly intent on voting for an EU exit in 2017.

But here's the rub, and a reminder of what I've noticed during the Scottish referendum:

I do not actually expect or want the UK to leave the EU, but endless Scottish independence debates made matters feel much less clear and many people now seem to think that a YES vote for EU exit would simplistically mean we'd just stamp our departure papers, shut the Channel Tunnel and walk out.

Frankly, who are you kidding? To date, no member state has ever left the EU and I have no doubt negotations to do so would be long-drawn-out and extremely tortuous.

And there would have to be compromise on either side.

So my personal thoughts on the matter are these:

The European Union, like any large organization, will always want more power, money and control. Virtually all major organizations get like this. It is the nature of the beast.

Because Britain, the Isle, lies just offshore continental Europe and Britain (the state) has its own currency, its own central bank, a veto, a rebate and a few hard-earned exemptions, it has - just about - been able to avoid the worst of the EU's control freakery.

However, I bet the EU will not stop trying to tighten its grip. So as far as I can see, the only diplomatic way to keep the beast at bay is by renegotiating the UK's EU membership, and a major source of leverage for the British government might well be the EU's awareness that unless some negotiated settlement was reached, a referendum on EU membership would take place.

I am by no means certain this will work, and I consider the possibility of an EU referendum actually happening to be fairly slim; but here, again, is the rub.

The only UK political party even suggesting said referendum is the Conservative Party. If they are not able to get a workable majority after this election, the EU referendum will almost certainly never take place. Furthermore, if we end up with an SNP/Labour coalition which could conceivably lead to the breakup of the Union, a fractured British Isle would not have enough political clout to even consider the possibility of renegotiating its relationship with the EU.

A seceding Scotland, for example, would probably find itself waiting in line to rejoin the EU, and strictly on the EU's terms.

Would that really matter?

Well, I might wish for the EU referendum, but here's the hunch behind the wish:

History is unpredictable. Within living memory a dictator blitzkrieged across Europe, Britain stood alone and if it hadn't been for twelve miles of English Channel and (believe it or not) Air Chief Marshal Hugh Dowding's superlative personnel management, the United Kingdom would have fallen.

I'm not predicting another Battle of Britain, I don't necessarily expect continental Europe to explode in rebellion against Angela Merkel's attempts to prop up the Euro, I don't know whether my possible fellow Asperger, Vladimir Putin, will continue trying to expand Russia's sphere of influence.

However, I think it would be insane, conversely, for me complacently to assume that none of these things could possibly ever happen. BBC World Affairs Editor John Simpson recently noted that no newspaper in the Britain of 1913 had any idea the "war to end all wars" would be kicking off in 1914...

Deep down, I think Britain needs to stick together to keep the beast at bay. And if we don't, I fear consequences which will make the divisive Scottish referendum we've just had look like an irrelevant roll in the hay.

These are pivotal times and Britain has a choice of destiny. Whether it's better to stick together in a seriously uncertain world; or to wave flags, mouth slogans, split up and be picked off by the major players.

Funny to meet representatives of one possible future in Biggar one quiet day.

Not funny wondering what might happen, and who'll hold sway.

James Christie is the author of Dear Miss Landau. He was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, a mild form of autism, at the age of 37 in 2002. He lives in the Scottish Borders.

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