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UK heading towards ‘breakup’ says Financial Times

31 Dec 2020 4 minutes Read
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The UK is heading towards “breakup” according to the Financial Times.

An editorial in the newspaper said that the wishes of the devolved administrations in Cardiff, Edinburgh, and Belfast were “ignored” during the Brexit negotiations and that powers have been “hoarded at Westminster”.

It also said that Brexit was an expression of “English nationalism” and that Boris Johnson has “always seen himself as more English than British.”

The paper calls for a federal union and says that the “status quo is no longer an option.”

It added that the “diplomatic art of divide and rule” had failed against the EU during the negotiations.

The editorial said: “Another union — that between the nations of England, Scotland and Wales and the province of Northern Ireland, will take centre stage in Brexit’s next act.

 

‘Guff’ 

“Forget the guff about embarking on a new Elizabethan age. ‘Global Britain’ is at present heading towards the rocks of constitutional break-up.

“Cracks have appeared in the constitutional architecture of the UK. Brexit has changed forever the balance between the constituent parts of the UK union.

“The decision to leave the EU was, at its heart, an expression of English nationalism. A reordering of relationships within the UK is inevitable — and a parting of the ways a real and present danger.

“Boris Johnson takes a cavalier view. A unionist in name only, the prime minister decided that leaving the EU took precedence over unity at home.

“He has always seen himself as more English than British. Scotland, he has complained to officials, is ‘too leftwing’, too eager to spend money raised from English taxpayers to finance a woeful dependency on the state.

“The wishes of devolved administrations in Edinburgh, Belfast and Cardiff were largely ignored during the Brexit negotiations.

‘Hoarded’ 

“The government has decreed that significant powers returned from Brussels be hoarded at Westminster.

“Mr Johnson has described the devolution settlement establishing the Edinburgh parliament — an assembly now dominated by the Scottish National party — as a ‘disaster’.

“He might as well have told the Scottish electorate outright that it was unfit to choose its own leaders.

“The special status conferred on Northern Ireland by the Brexit agreement with Brussels — maintaining the province’s open border with the Republic of Ireland while creating a new frontier with the British mainland — offers the prospect of eventual Irish unity.

“History and sectarian divisions militate against a rush to reunification, but the Brexit settlement adds a set of compelling economic incentives to the demographic advantage of those who back unity.

“Scotland has been torn from the EU against the wishes of the 62 per cent of the Scots who voted Remain.

“Brexit has thus imposed an unwanted choice between union with England and integration with Europe.

“Recent opinion polls suggest that, faced with that choice (and with Mr Johnson’s brand of Toryism), there is now a consistent majority in favour of independence.

“The prime minister says he will refuse to allow another referendum if, as expected, Ms Sturgeon wins a mandate in May’s Scottish parliament elections.

‘Will of the people’

“Brexit, Mr Johnson is fond of saying, was a victory for the ‘will of the people’. But Scottish voices, it seems, cannot be heard.

“His stance is at once politically unsustainable and a boon to the pro-independence cause. The anti-Johnson vote, senior SNP figures say privately could be worth up to 5 percentage points to the independence camp in a second referendum.

“Changing minds to guarantee the preservation of the Union will require, at very least, two steps.

“The first, which should be the easiest, is Mr Johnson’s departure in favour of a prime minister ready to redistribute power within the UK. The second (contingent on the first) is a constitutional offer to Scotland — and to Wales and Northern Ireland — that would create an essentially federal union. The status quo is no longer an option.”

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