As Unionists we have the right to travel the length and breadth of our United Kingdom without let or hindrance. No devolved administration has the legal right to close the boundary between any part of the United Kingdom, including local authority areas, nor does it have any right to patrol these with any police presence whatsoever; without the express permission of the appropriate UK Secretary of State.
One of the most powerful arguments against separation is the idea that "we don't want border checkpoints between Scotland and England".
Since this is a powerful argument for Unionism, then it becomes the job of the SNP to attempt to normalise the idea of a policed "border" between Scotland and England.
If they can get people thinking that there is already "a border" which is being policed, and that it is perfectly natural for it to be patrolled in this way, then it will be much easier to move people towards accepting that there is nothing wrong with internal physical border checkpoints, and it is just another natural thing that we should accept.
This is what the SNP is trying to do right now. The Covid situation has handed it the perfect opportunity.
They want to establish a form of partition by the back door!
For example, a report in the Daily Telegraph (Daniel Sanderson, "Border checkpoints move a step closer", Scottish edition, 11-2-21, p. 7) claims that an SNP MSP describing himself as the Scottish Transport Minister "suggested his government (sic) was considering road-and-rail checks at the border with England to prevent Scots from trying to cheat the new curbs, if necessary."
They think they can do these things because "Transport" and "Health" are devolved matters.
However, there is no such devolved competency as "Internal Border Control" – which is what this would amount to.
Make no mistake! This is a fundamental part of the on-going SNP strategy to condition us to thinking of Scotland as a separate nation which doesn't belong as part of the UK.
This is another way in which the SNP are using the Covid situation to advance their separation agenda.
From our perspective, there should be no question of any kind of internal "border" controls – established by devolved administrations – within the United Kingdom.
The authentic Unionist position is that it should be the right of every British citizen to move freely about the UK "without let or hindrance".
"Objection, Your Honour!"
Some will say, "Freedom of internal movement should not trump protection from disease!" And of course, depending upon the severity of the disease, it may not always trump it.
Sometimes boundaries will need to go up to protect against disease. However, that is not the central issue here.
The central issue is: "Who gets to establish the boundaries within our United Kingdom? Who gets to partition the country in this way?"
If Scotland were independent, then Holyrood could do what it wanted on the so-called "border". In that regard, it would definitely establish checkpoints, because that would be a physical symbol of its autonomy. It would be one of the first things it would do!
But Scotland is not a separate nation. Holyrood is a devolved parliament – an arm of the overall body of the British Parliament. Therefore, it should have no right to contemplate setting itself up with the right to partition the United Kingdom, much less suggest it, much less actually do it!
What is to be Done?
It is important to state that the power to physically partition our United Kingdom with "border checkpoints" does not belong to a devolved administration. The sooner the British Government wake up to this fact and state it, the better.
Yet we have a British Government which too often does not work from any sense of over-riding philosophical basis, when it comes to the unity of the UK.
If it were working from a philosophical basis of unity then "border checkpoints" set up by devolved institutions, would simply be off the agenda and in the bin.
(To learn about the philosophical basis of unity, our politicians should bone up on our Speech published on our Legacy Site "One UK: The British Union from 30 First Principles" which was put together before. we. ever. could. have. even. imagined that the devolved administrations would contemplate setting up "border checkpoints".)
Such physical border checkpoints must never be able to be established by devolved administrations. There simply should not be a discussion about this. They must be considered totally anathema, and prohibited by law if necessary.
Any member of a devolved administration who even suggests such a thing should be breaking the law.
Here's what to do..
If, for some reason, a temporary control needs to be erected between Scotland and England, or between certain parts of the United Kingdom, or between certain local authorities, then these must be for the British Union Parliament to decide upon and enforce.
That is, it must be made clear in law that no devolved administration has the legal right to close the boundary between any part of the United Kingdom, including local authority areas, for any reason, nor does it have any right to patrol these with any police presence whatsoever; without the express permission of the appropriate UK Secretary of State.
FOOTNOTE 1: Internal Boundaries, not "Borders"
As Unionists, we understand that the United Kingdom has an external border with the rest of the world. However, we do not use the term "border" to describe the internal and invisible lines within the United Kingdom itself.
We don't like to speak about a "border" between Scotland and England. We prefer the term "boundary".
A boundary is a line between different administrative areas. A border implies a more serious political distinction, and is usually applied to the line between entirely separate nations.
FOOTNOTE 2: "South of the Border…down Engerland way"
We don't, for example, use the phrase "South of the Border" when referring to England.
The SNP loves this phrase because it does several things.
Firstly, it emphasises the notion that there exists some kind of physical "border" between Scotland and England in the first place – even though in reality it exists only as a line on a map with no natural geographical, or man-made, physical divide.
Secondly, it emphasises a separation between Scotland and England rather than the seamless unity which we prefer to emphasise within the context of the United Kingdom.
Thirdly, it emphasises a sense of distance and difference which isn't there. For example, when some people in the south of the country talk about "heading north of the border", it makes it sound as if they are saddling up the Huskies and Sled for a trek to the frozen north!
Consequently, if we dwell too much on this attitude then we start to separate Scotland and England in our heads and in our thinking.
This encourages us to think of Scotland and England as separate already, instead of understanding that we're all naturally part of one United Kingdom.
Once the nationalists have everyone thinking in terms of "a border" then it is much easier for them to attempt to make that border an official political and physical reality.
FOOTNOTE 3: A Geographical Fact regarding Latitude
The phrase "South of the Border" is also geographically inaccurate when referring to England alone.
Large parts of the West and South West of Scotland are actually "south of the border", as far as degrees of latitude are concerned.
Parts of England which are described as "south of the border" are actually further north than parts of Scotland. For example, the "south of the border" Northumberland town of Berwick upon Tweed (Latitude 55.7710) is further north than Kilmarnock (55.6092)!
As soon as you drive outside Glasgow, and get a few miles below Hamilton or East Kilbride, you will soon be "south of the border" as far as the lines of latitude are concerned. (Hamilton sits at 55.7776, East Kilbride is at 55.7714)
"South of the border" Newcastle, is further north than large parts of South West Scotland, including Castle Douglas, Wigtown and Stranraer. Carlisle is further north than Kirkcudbright.
As unionists, we should avoid using phrases such as "south of the border" or "north of the border".
If we want to talk in terms of the compass then we can use phrases such as "in the south of the country" or "in the north of the country", or if we have to refer to the "border", we should refer to "the so-called border" or "the boundary between Scotland and England".
So next time the Scottish nationalists speak about "south of the border" we can ask them, "Do you mean Kilmarnock?"
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