The UK, Brexit, the missing federalisation, the rise of Scottish independence

In an article I published for “The New Federalist” in May 2015, I argued that the EU Membership was a stabilising factor for the UK and that, given the political preferences of Scotland and other regions, removing the EU Membership would increase the rift between the four nations of the United Kingdom. In that article, I did not mention the problem of the Good Friday Agreement and Northern Ireland, and maybe I gave too much space to English regionalist parties, but here we are.

Unfortunately, it turns out I was right. Four years later, the United Kingdom has never been so divided. Under the Withdrawal Agreement, Northern Ireland will be kept inside the Custom Union aligned with the Republic of Ireland, but likely no longer aligned with the rest of the UK, while custom checks will be performed in the Irish Sea. According to polls, in Northern Ireland the divide between the catholic/nationalist and protestant/unionist community has started deepening again (https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/jun/17/brexit-unionist-nationalist-divide-northern-ireland-survey-identity-political-allegiances). Whereas in Scotland support for independence has never been so high and has never been so persistent. (Naturally, Johnson’s mismanagement of Covid-19 is making everything worse. The contrast between Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and PM Boris Johnson has never been so evident.)

At the same time, the perspective and the proposals for a full and true federalisation of the UK has never been so remote. The Conservatives, by definition a “one-nation” party, have always opposed plans for applying federalism in the UK (it used to oppose devolution as well). By contrast, Dominic Cummings, the real power behind Johnson’s throne, seems to prefer plans for centralising more and more powers in the hand of the Executive, by attacking the Civil Service and “removing-and-blocking” all the critical voices and potential opponents. Johnson-Cummings vision for Britain is that of a centralised, minimal state, functional to the Brexit-supporting power/business groups. In their plan, all forms of federalism and local government are just an obstacle to remove.

In five years, a federal United Kingdom has become the most unlikely scenario, while the argument and the support for Scottish independence have never been so strong. In order to “take back control” and to bring the UK back to a neo-imperial golden age, made of dreams like “global Britain” and “Commonwealth 2.0”, Brexiteers are fulfilling the prophecy of a UK break-up, while turning Britain in the most isolated and least internationalised country in Europe.
This is what Brexit means.

You can retrive the original article here https://www.thenewfederalist.eu/the-outcome-of-the-uk-elections-towards-a-federal-uk?lang=fr

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