Britain, A House Divided And The End Of The Union? I believed that after Scotland’s historic vote to remain as part of the UK, the question of British Union was cemented.
The Scottish Referendum was very much seen as a po- litical muscle flexing from the SNP, spearheaded by Alex Salmond whose initial proposition of Devo Max was re- jected in favour of Scottish Independence Referendum proposed by then Prime Minister Cameron. It was a political gamble, but it was a gamble that servery devastated SNP’s image of be- ing able to take on Westminster. The following year, the SNP did manage to win all but two Scottish MP Seats in the General Election, yet the sentiment was that this would be a fleeting political phenomenon.
A year later and the disastrous result the EU referendum reopened those wounds with a greater lethality than ever before. Scotland overwhelming voted Remain, there was immediate talks of second referendum on Scottish Independence and put forward by Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Whilst May has expressed the inconsistency of the SNP’s stance on the EU membership, it does not comfort Scottish citizens who are very afraid that their rising economy and growth is now going to be stifled as Westminster is looking towards Protectionist policies. The SNP, are only going to use this situation to forward their agenda for independence regardless whether or not it becomes an EU member ater Scottish Independence.
Northern Ireland in almost a rare case of unity, had too voted to Remain, though eastern parts of Northern Ireland particularly where there is Unionist support had voted leave. As far as Stormont is concerned, it is a disaster, fearing the days of The Troubles would return again. Sinn Fein, a party long advocating for Irish Reunification, have called for a referendum on Irish Reunification. It is worrying sign that Sinn Fein has only one less seat than the DUP, and momentum seems to be swinging more and more towards Sinn Fein. Sinn Fein only lost 1 seat in the Assembly, whilst Unionist Party has lost a combined 16 seats in the recent Assembly elections. If this trend continues, we could very well see Stormont make greater moves towards Irish Reunification
The voting trend in Wales is not helping either, UKIP who had no seat gained 7 seats in the Welsh Assembly in 2016. There now remains a very strong pro Brexit voice within the Welsh Assembly. However Plaid Cymru are in a precarious position, recognising that Wales voted to Leave and their party chose to Remain. However, Plaid Cymru’s leader Leanne Wood has stated should Scotland vote Yes in a second Independence Referendum, it will choose to follow said example. Though Welsh independence seems novel, Brexit has made this a greater reality than ever before.
Yet for all this sentiment, one thing is clear. There is a deep animosity towards Westminster and the current Conservative Government, yet there is deep sense of irony that is overwhelming. The Conservative Establishment, long advocats of British Unionism may now be the catalyst for the breakup of the Union. Theresa May, who did chose to be in the Remain camp, has resorted to stirring nationalist sentiments and seemingly in pan- dering the right of her party. The Conservative Party has gambled the future of the Union, and it seems like it has lost that gamble.
By Usman Bukhari, a Politics Student at Cardiff University.