was a member of the British Parliament for nearly 30 years. He presents TV and radio shows (including on RT). He is a film-maker, writer and a renowned orator.
If Britain ever leaves the EU, as the Brexit referendum of 2016 mandated its politicians to do, many speculate that this will unleash inexorable forces leading to the breakup of the United Kingdom too… but will that happen?
For my part, the answer is ‘yes’ and ‘no.’
I think that Her Majesty, aged 93 and long life to her, will be on her throne for longer than Northern Ireland will be in the United Kingdom.
The six counties of the north east of Ireland were unnaturally torn from the Irish motherland a century ago, but its status was always historically speaking, doomed.
Despite its Gerrymandered borders, tortuously carved to ensure a built-in Protestant (pro-British unionist) majority, and its near-apartheid treatment of its Catholic minority including disenfranchisement of many, the writing was already on the wall. As my own family demonstrates, Catholics simply have bigger families than Protestants. That and the emigration of a steady stream of educated Protestants unwilling to stick around in the thoroughly abnormal statelet they call Northern Ireland. Neither Irish nor British, dominated by a brand of sectarian politics, at least half-a-century an embarrassment, a steady stream of northern Protestants simply voted with their feet and a ticket to England.
As the demographic gap almost entirely closed along came the Brexit referendum.
Despite the flag-waving entreaties of the Unionist parties, the majority in Northern Ireland voted to remain.
Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal, now the official plan of the British parliament by a majority of 30 votes, was achieved despite the vehement, vituperative, opposition of the pro-British unionists, both sides thereby earning the undying enmity of the other. Johnson now owes the DUP nothing.
Ironically, the DUP’s hardline unionists are correct in their interpretation that Johnson’s deal effectively loosens the ties between the two islands and places the six-counties on a motorway towards the reunification of Ireland. A motorway with no exit-ramp. Irish unity could come about as quickly as German reunification did. Remember you read that here.
Scotland will not however follow Northern Ireland out of the union of Great Britain.
There are many reasons for this. Firstly, this is a small island of English-speaking people, more people speak Polish in Scotland than Gaelic, with a common culture, heritage, economic community and over three hundred years of common, imperialist history, grafted together.
Secondly, we Scots are famously careful with our money. And in a breakaway Scotland we wouldn’t even know the colour of it. The euro? Greece anyone? The pound? Not if its issuer, the Bank of England, has anything to do with it and it does. A third way? Not with Scotland’s budget deficit, several times as high as the EU’s fiscal rules permit.
Scotland, with a massive job-dependency on the public-sector and defence expenditure, would simply not be permitted to run such an economy, either by the EU, if it adopted the euro, or by the financial markets if it adopted a new currency.
England and Wales are by far and away Scotland’s biggest trading partners. The notion that in any new “once-in-a-lifetime” referendum Scotland would opt for partnership with Slovakia and Bulgaria rather than England and Wales is simply fanciful.
And despite propaganda to the contrary, Scotland is NOT a cold-water Cuba. Scots have identical social attitudes to the presence of, unlimited, foreign labour coming to Scotland as English voters do to freedom of movement of labour from the EU. As soon as it became clear that many of those denied entry into England after Brexit would instead head for Scotland, many hoping to cross the “hard-border” which would thereafter be required, the SNP game plan would be sunk without trace.
If Wales ever votes for independence from England I will eat a three-cornered hat whilst walking naked through Merthyr Tydfil in only a pair of traditional Welsh clogs.
A united Britain outside of the EU and a united Ireland within it. That’s how the pieces will fall.
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