Much to cel­e­brate and many ques­tions to an­swer

The die is cast and now the politi­cians must thrash out a deal with the EU

The Herald - Herald Sport - - EU REFERENDUM -

THE count was over. Dawn had risen. Two young Labour ac­tivists sat on benches in the gym in Grange­mouth where it had just been an­nounced that all 32 re­gions of Scot­land had backed the EU.

“It’s in­de­pen­dence,” said Braden Davy, grin­ning and play­ing with his phone as re­sult af­ter re­sult shows English Leavers have just out­voted Scot­tish Re­main­ers.

“Please don’t use that word,” Mr Davy’s party col­league Ian Rodgers replied, with a tired, side­ways glance. “It im­plies that we are some kind of vas­sals of the EU and I don’t agree with that,” he went on, then stopped and added: “But maybe the coun­try does.”

Mr Davy, 24, meant in­de­pen­dence for Bri­tain. Mr Rodgers, 27, was more wor­ried about in­de­pen­dence for Scot­land.

“I won­der what our erst­while al­lies the SNP will do,” he said. In this gym hall, in Grange­mouth, its squeaky floor criss-crossed with the multi-coloured line mark­ings of dif­fer­ent sports, Scot­tish na­tion­al­ists were mut­ter­ing about in­de­pen­dence too. But they were glum. “This is not what they wanted,” Mr Davy ac­knowl­edged.

Leavers had come to this count­ing cen­tre, the col­lat­ing point for re­sults from across Scot­land, nei­ther in hope nor in ex­pec­ta­tion.

Mr Davy’s boss, Tom Har­ris, the for­mer Glas­gow Labour MP or­ches­trat­ing the anti-EU cam­paign north of the Bor­der, knew his team would be beaten in Scot­land and sus­pected they would lose in Bri­tain too.

And, sure enough, when the fi­nal Scot­tish re­sult was de­clared, a vic­tory by more than three votes to two, by 1.6 mil­lion to one mil­lion for Re­main, they whooped like they had won.

Mr Davy again cheered: “In­de­pen­dence!” He had rea­son. Scot­land was one colour on the elec­toral maps flash­ing on his phone and Eng­land was an­other; and Eng­land is big­ger. As the cheers died down, Mr Har­ris was asked: “Is this our in­de­pen­dence day?”

“To­day IS our in­de­pen­dence day,” he replied, with his first proper grin of the morn­ing. Cue more cheers from Leavers.

“I never thought I would see this day,” the for­mer MP said. “We now have all these fan­tas­tic Re­main politi­cians who can get the best pos­si­ble deal out of the EU.”

But what is the best pos­si­ble deal? “I am not a politi­cian,” he joked. “I am sure they will work that out. No, the best pos­si­ble deal is trad­ing with ev­ery­body, not just the EU.”

Does he re­ally think Brexit is in­de­pen­dence? “Why not?” Mr Har­ris replied. “Who’s go­ing to be mak­ing the laws? Holy­rood and West­min­ster?”

But what about ac­tual in­de­pen­dence for Scot­land?

“I don’t think they can win a ref­er­en­dum,” he said. “If there had never been a ref­er­en­dum in the past and they had an over­all ma­jor­ity in the past, I could see there would be a case.

“Dur­ing that ref­er­en­dum the Yes cam­paign said that if you vote No you will be out of the EU be­cause the Tories are com­mit­ted to have a ref­er­en­dum. And the Scots lis­tened to that warn­ing, un­der­stood it and they voted No.”

Mr Har­ris and Mr Davy and their Leavers had started the count slouched in leather arm­chairs, flick­ing through Twit­ter think­ing they had lost. But the UK-wide vic­tory came with an added bonus. “I put £100 on us win­ning,” Mr Davy said, “be­cause the odds were so good. I had al­ready put money on the SNP not get­ting an over­all ma­jor­ity in Holy­rood and of Yes not get­ting more than 46 per cent.”

Mr Har­ris was on the money too: “I put £20 on at 7/2. I’ve won £70,” he said. “But then I lost the ten­ner I put on my­self to win the Gen­eral Elec­tion when I was 6/1.”

What about the fact that the money they have won is in ster­ling and ster­ling crashed overnight as the Leave camp seized vic­tory?

Mr Davy laughed: “I know Re­main­ers who never changed their hol­i­day money be­cause they were sure they would win and the pound would hold. I ex­pect the mar­kets will sort them­selves out.”

On the benches in a coun­cil gym hall, his fel­low Labour man Mr Rodgers was not so sure. He had pre­dicted dis­as­ter for the econ­omy if Leave won. He watched SNP lead­ers give tele­vi­sion in­ter­views in the dis­tance, their voices car­ry­ing across the room as they de­scribed a clean sweep. “I do hope I am wrong,” he said.

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