Boris Johnson ‘risks overlooking Wales’ and UK could be ‘ripped to pieces’ in 2021, says CNN

Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Picture by Chatham House (CC BY 2.0)

The UK could be ripped “to pieces” in 2021 and Boris Johnson “risks overlooking Wales” according to CNN.

An analysis by journalist Luke McGee says the union faces its “two biggest peacetime crises” in Brexit and Covid-19 and that this has created a “perfect storm of dissatisfaction with the status quo”.

He said support for “support for business-as-usual” in Wales “has become untenable” but also claims that “there is not a strong independence movement”.

The latest opinion poll has put support for independence in Wales at 33 per cent, which is higher than what it was in Scotland when the referendum was called in 2014.

Membership of the grassroots pro-independence group YesCymru has shot up to over 16,000.

The article says: “While there is not a strong independence movement in Wales, the support for business-as-usual has become untenable, as nationalists become increasingly hostile towards the Conservative government in Westminster.

“Mercifully for Johnson, the situation is less perilous in Wales, where there isn’t a serious separatist movement. However, since Johnson faces the prospect of fighting in Scotland and Northern Ireland, he risks overlooking Wales.

“One error Johnson could make is that, in order to appeal to his base in England, he goes on the offensive against political leaders who are anti-Conservative – meaning Wales’s hostile Labour leadership could be a target.”

The article quotes Roger Awan-Scully, professor of politics at Cardiff University, who said: “Covid has highlighted what devolution actually means, in terms of Welsh politicians being able to make independent policy that directly affects Welsh people.

“If Conservatives take a more aggressive line against devolution and pro-centralised control from London, it risks emboldening the anti-Westminster movement in Wales.”

 

‘Pain’

The article says: “The politics and constitutional arrangements between the four nations that make up the United Kingdom are a constant source of pain to any leader trying to reconcile their substantively different political and societal priorities.

“But the two biggest peacetime crises faced by Britain – one anticipated, and one that came out of thin air – have combined to create a perfect storm of dissatisfaction with the status quo.

“Finally, after years of drawn-out political debate and tortuous negotiations, Britain left the EU’s regulatory and trading universe on January 1, but with a myriad of unpredictable strains on the UK’s political union that could lead the British Prime Minister into choppy constitutional waters.

“Simultaneously, the Covid-19 pandemic has laid bare how much political distance there is between the devolved governments — in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast — and London.

“The independence movement in Scotland has grown since the country’s referendum in 2014, where Scots voted by 55% to remain in the Union. According to a recent poll in the Scotsman newspaper, independence is currently 16 points ahead.

“Much of that support is attributed to Scotland’s objection to Brexit. Even as Johnson celebrated securing a trade deal with the EU, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted that ‘there is no deal that will ever make up for what Brexit takes away from us. It’s time to chart our own future as an independent, European nation.

‘Confident’

It adds: “In Northern Ireland, nationalist politicians that spoke to CNN admitted they have never been so confident that, should a vote be called, the north could be reunited with the Republic of Ireland.

“All of which presents a problem for Boris Johnson, who is not only leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party, but also the self-appointed Minister for the Union. “Indeed, ever since he took office, Johnson has painted himself as a defender of the Union and talked at length about strengthening ties between the four nations.

“But Unionists within his own party are skeptical as to how much the PM really cares about three countries where a majority of the electorate don’t vote Conservative, and where his personal popularity ratings are poor.

“And in England, the largest, richest and most conservative of the four, resentment of a status quo that can easily be characterized as London sending money to fund its poorer relatives in the other three nations is growing.”

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