On Friday, Scotland’s first minister angered local business owners in the country’s most populous city, which is home to over 600,000 people, after deciding to keep Glasgow in a level three lockdown over fears of spreading the Indian variant. Under current restrictions, people are not allowed to meet in each other’s homes and hospitality venues such as restaurants and cafes cannot serve alcohol indoors.
Writing a comment for The Herald, Joanna Blythman, an investigative food journalist, condemned the actions of the Scottish Government writing that Holyrood had enacted “draconian restrictions” on a hunch.
She said: “Unless the Government sees sense and starts demonstrating solid support, we Scots will regress to eating ‘muck off a truck’ like we did in the 1970s.”
She added that the Scottish Government’s constant lockdowns and restrictions have “taken a wrecking ball” to Scotland’s hospitality industry and said the “damage may be irreparable”.
She wrote: “Our MSPs, few of whom have any experience of self-employment, running a business, or catering, have gone along with it like sheep.”
According to statistics cited by Ms Blythman, around one in ten restaurants have already closed permanently in Scotland and fewer than half are currently trading.
A further 8 percent are not expected to last another three months as businesses struggle to serve customers with their dwindling cash reserves.
Restaurants in Glasgow have been suffering after spending roughly 270 days under tough restrictions with many criticising Holyrood for their lack of financial support.
Travel in and out of the city has become heavily restricted as well as overseas tourism.
Had Britain joined the EEA Scotland could have left the UK, and joined the EU, without requiring a hard-border with England. However because of Mrs May’s decision, and Boris Johnson’s new Brexit trade deal, this is no longer possible.
If Scotland swaps the UK for the EU border checks will be required on trade and travel with England risking serious economic disruption.
EEA members form part of the European single market and continue to apply EU internal market rules, including on free movement.
Some former Remainers pushed for Britain to join the EEA after Brexit which would have meant a very close relationship with the EU.
According to Institute for Government (IFG) analysis if the UK joined the EEA “an independent Scotland might still have been able to join the EU without customs checks and major risks of economic dislocation on the border”.
Theresa May’s refusal to join the EEA may hit the SNP’s independence bid (Image: GETTY)
The SNP fell one short of a Scottish parliament majority last week (Image: GETTY)
The IFG found Scotland trades three times as much across the English border as it does with the entire EU.
Despite not being EU members Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein are part of the EEA.
This means they retain very close relations with Brussels which is able to make some of their laws.
Ms Sturgeon is demanding a second referendum on independence following last week’s Scottish parliament elections.
Britain formally left the EU in January 2020 (Image: GETTY)
The next Scottish parliament was elected last week (Image: GETTY)
Writing for the Scottish Centre for European Relations she said: “As was the case for the Irish border for much of the twentieth century, controls along the Scottish land border would be a challenge to design and administer.
“They would require new systems of cooperation and communication (including to facilitate and process customs declarations), new infrastructure (e.g. facilities for veterinary inspections), new recruits for border management (among whom customs inspectors are but the tip of the iceberg), and new rules for traders to comply with if they wish to move goods across Scotland’s borders.”
Earlier this year Ms Sturgeon suggested Scotland will apply for EU membership if it votes to leave the UK without holding a separate referendum.
However Scotland’s budget deficit is currently eight times the limit required to join the EU.
Scotland voted to remain part of the UK in 2014 (Image: EXPRESS )
This means stringent spending cuts or tax rises may be required before Scotland meets the qualifications.
Scotland would have to pledge to adopt the Euro as its currency if it wants EU membership.
It would also have to re-join the EU’s common fisheries policy, handing control over its fishing waters to Brussels.
Any existing EU member state could veto Scotland’s application and some, like Spain, have their own separatism movements.
The Scottish Tories argue there is no mandate for indyref2 (Image: GETTY)
However SNP MP Alyn Smith argued Spain is unlikely to deploy its veto.
Speaking to RTE he said: “So long as this is an agreed, constitutional route, which is our preference too, I don’t envisage significant difficulties with Spain.
“They also recognise European solidarity, the way we’ve treated Spanish nationals in Scotland, as opposed to the way they’re treated in the UK.”
The SNP, Scottish Greens and Alex Salmond’s Alba are all in favour of an independent Scotland. Unionist group Scotland Matters is urging tactical voting to confront the threat.
The Scottish Conservatives, Scottish Labour and Scottish Liberal Democrats are all pro-union but are strongest in different regions.
Scotland Matters wants unionist voters to lend their votes to the party most likely to beat the SNP in their area.
New billboards have been erected in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen warning of a nationalist majority.
The billboards portray Nicola Sturgeon being controlled by Mr Salmond like a puppet on a string, with the SNP leader in turn directing Scottish Green leader Patrick Harvie.
A spokesman for Scotland Matters commented: “The most recent billboard in our ongoing series sees three of the independence movements most ardent adherents strung together in an obsessive performance above Scotland, while the nations essential services, private businesses and critical infrastructure is neglected once again.
“Salmond, Sturgeon and Harvie’s mono-obsession with independence has kept Scotland stuck in limbo for what is now approaching a decade, while repeatedly treating the issues that all Scots want Holyrood to concentrate on as a mere puppet show: post-covid recovery, economic development, the NHS and the environment.
“If pro-indy parties secure a majority on May the 6th all Scotland can look forward to is further division, decline and the constant threat of Scotland seceding from one of the world’s most successful and long-lasting unions with the other nations of the UK; thus why Scotland Matters supports tactical voting in the forthcoming election.”
Scottish Parliament elections take place on May 6 with the SNP demanding another referendum on leaving the UK.