Bill Carmichael: Call the bluff of Scotland's sore losers. They're like Greece '“ minus the sun

AFTER the Scottish people decisively rejected independence in the 2014 referendum, some of us hoped for a period of silence from nationalists north of the border.

Nicola Sturgeon is threatening a second referendum on Scottish independence.

Fat chance! Just like the bedwetting remainiacs who refuse to accept the result of this year’s EU referendum, the nationalists have been in full-blown whinge mode ever since.

When did we become such a nation of such sore losers?

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In fact, Scotland had a very lucky escape. The sunny economic forecasts on which the entire independence bid was based turned to dust as soon as oil prices collapsed. Scotland’s tax revenue from North Sea oil declined by 97 per cent from £1.8bn in 2015 to just £60m this year.

As a result Scotland’s budget deficit is far worse than that of Greece. Without the massive subsidies from English taxpayers to maintain Scotland’s reckless public spending, the country would be little more than a smoking ruin.

Becoming a properly grown-up independent nation means finally putting away the begging bowl and standing on your own two feet – something Scotland seems incapable of doing now or in the future. And all the misty-eyed flag-waving in the world will not change these hard-nosed economic truths.

You might think such developments would chasten the SNP leaders and reconnect them to reality – but not a bit of it. Instead, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has been strutting around demanding a special deal for Scotland over Brexit and threatening us with another independence referendum.

Bring it on!

Theresa May should call Sturgeon’s bluff and tell her to go ahead with another vote if that is what she wants.

The Scots would be faced with a stark choice – being an integral part of an independent UK (with all the subsidies that entails) or throwing themselves at the mercy of unreliable allies in the EU.

The idea – seemingly at the heart of Sturgeon’s strategy – that the EU will offer Scotland some kind of cosy deal outside the UK is simply laughable.

First, because Scotland is basically Greece minus the sunshine – and the last thing a mortally-wounded EU needs is another basket-case economy that can only be kept alive by never-ending bail- outs and subsidies.

Second, all 27 remaining EU members would have to approve Scotland’s application, and frankly that is never going to happen.

Spain for example, is sure to block it because it fears its own independence movement in Catalonia. The Catalans will argue that if the Scots can have separate membership, so can they. For that reason the Spanish will give an emphatic ‘nunca!’ to Scottish EU membership.

Even if by some miracle the EU accepted Scotland’s entry, it would signal economic collapse and national humiliation.

Scotland would have to accept the doomed euro currency, which, as Greece is sadly discovering, rules out any economic recovery for many generations.

And like Greece, Scotland would have to accept brutal Brussels-imposed austerity measures to stay within the EU’s deficit rules. This would mean massive tax rises, double digit cuts to pensions and benefits and the dismantling of public services. Can you imagine Scottish subsidy junkies voting for that?

If they did, I reckon that within months we would see a flood of ‘refugees’ heading south for the English border.

And isn’t it odd that the nationalists object to rule from a democratically-elected Westminster parliament, yet they are perfectly happy to be told what to do by unelected, unaccountable EU bureaucrats. Seems a strange kind of ‘independence’ to me.

Of course it is up to the Scots to decide – I just wish they would quit whining and get on with it.

Meanwhile, we should scrap the hated Barnett formula, introduced as a temporary measure 38 years ago, which gives Scotland £1,600 a head more in public spending than people in England.

So, according to this formula, a well-heeled Edinburgh lawyer is more deserving of taxpayer subsidy that an unemployed miner in a poverty-stricken South Yorkshire town.

Even the late Lord Barnett, who devised the formula, described it as a “terrible mistake” and a “national embarrassment”.

The whole thing is crazy. It should be swept away and the money sent to areas of the country that actually need it.