The spectre of existential conflict looms over Britain, raising tensions capable of destroying a centuries-old union
Speculation about the idea of independence for certain regions of the United Kingdom has existed before, but Brexit has taken it to a whole new level. It is ironic that the authorities went for a historic “divorce” from the European Union to create a “Global Britain”. Now they may have to limit themselves to a more modest “Global Britain”, Bloomberg writes.
As early as May 6, elections will be held in Scotland. Here they will choose not just MPs but the future. The polls show that the Scottish National Party, which stands for independence, is likely to win a majority. This could well mean that next time the Scots will be voting for secession from the UK in a second referendum.
Emily Gray, head of polling agency Ipsos MORI in Scotland, says Brexit has been crucial in gradually increasing support for independence. As a result, she says, there are “serious doubts about the future of the union” in Scotland.
“More than half of Scots expect the UK will not exist in its current form in five years’ time”, – the expert says.
Meanwhile, in Northern Ireland, full-blown revolts are breaking out as separate conditions are laid out for autonomy in the Brexit agreement between London and Brussels. The unionist community has long dominated here, with sociology showing a significant shift in sentiment towards separatism. The majority of people in Northern Ireland are ready to vote for reunification with the Republic of Ireland within five years.
Even in Wales, which, unlike Scotland and Northern Ireland, voted with England for Brexit, support for independence has grown during the coronavirus pandemic. Assembly elections will also be held here on 6 May, and there is a chance that the ruling Labour Party will share power with the Nationalists. The latter, in turn, intend to hold a vote on Welsh independence within 5 years.
Taken together, all of this creates a persistent sense that Britain’s existence is moving inexorably towards an end.
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“If it wasn’t for Brexit, the union would be relatively secure, but now I’m not so sure”, – said Matt Kwortrup, a political science professor at Coventry University who served as special adviser on UK constitutional issues. He is confident that change will catch up with the United Kingdom in the next decade.