Sir Tom Devine: Brexit will never happen

Posted By: November 03, 2016

Sir Tom Devine
One of Scotland’s leading historians Sir Tom Devine has predicted that Brexit will never happen.

Sir Tom said that he believed that the UK would not leave the European Union, despite June’s shock referendum result.

The reality of what Brexit would mean, especially for the economy, coupled with demands from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to pass their verdict on the divorce settlement, could lead the UK to stay a member after all, he forecast.

Speaking to Sally Magnusson on BBC Radio Scotland he also said that he thought another independence referendum was “likely”.

But he warned that there was an “intellectual hole” in the current pro-independence policy.

Sir Tom famously declared himself in favor of Scottish independence in the run up to the 2014 vote.

Over the summer he warned that the case for Scottish independence has been substantially weakened by the Brexit vote, which had raised the potential prospect of a “hard border” between Scotland and England.

During a wide-ranging interview Sir Tom said: “Personally, I don’t think Brexit will happen.”

He said that many voters were still unaware of the “forest of complexities” involved and the “catastrophic consequences” for the economy, especially of a ‘hard Brexit’, in which politicians prioritize control over immigration over access to the EU’s Single Market.

He also predicted that politicians in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would demand a vote on the terms of the UK’s exit, even if it was not legally binding, in Holyrood, Stormont and Cardiff Bay.

Taken together, they could mean that the UK does not leave the EU, he said.

While adding that the future was “not my period,” he also said it was “not appropriate” to hold another independence referendum now.

“ There is still an intellectual hole at the heart of the pro-independence policy,” he said.

“An economic hole, and a fairly large one, especially in relation to the potential currency. And the other thing is we still do not know yet the shape that Brexit, if it does occur, how it will be fashioned… so I think prudent caution would be a wise policy for the current government.”

But he said that he would still like to see an independent Scotland, adding that he thought that the issue would be a “running sore unless there is a surgical cut of a decision.

“And that would have to be, in my view, overwhelming support for the continuation of the Union or departure from the Union.”

Sir Tom also said that former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has fallen out with him over his stance in the independence referendum.

“He (Brown) simply stopped contacting me” he said. Asked if that was hurtful, he replied: “Yes I think so”.