I apologise for the egotistical name of this article, however I also write for glitchdspace.WordPress.com and The Jake Take is kind of the thing I do. When I was asked about the potential of writing a piece for Frontbench Politics I was jumping at the chance to fuel my political animal.
Unfortunately for you lot we’re going through the ultimate act of Deja vu in Brexit, and as cruel a mistress as she is, she is a wonderful muse in a very masochistic way. Now to start off with being very clear on what Brexit is about. I know it’s very easy not to know seeing as our political elite certainly don’t seem to either.
Is it soft or hard? Customs Union or WTO Rules? To Brexit or not to Brexit? These are all to varying degrees valid, if not necessarily justifiable, interpretations of what voting to leave The EU meant. Yet if we boil it down to its simplest form we were pitched Brexit as, well, it was all about taking back control, wasn’t it?
Now I don’t want to get bogged down in a quagmire of the accuracy of that as a selling point, nor what that means in a broader sense. No. For this we’re focusing solely on what this should mean for The Union. The problem with looking at The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is it gives the impression of a one people nation state.
This in itself is incredibly misleading, and often leads to the fact we are in fact a sovereign nation made up of four distinctly different nations with varying levels of self governance, but also incredibly different national identities being overlooked. For all the collectiveness that the title of a United Kingdom suggests we are actually a very tribalistic peoples in that sense.
In greater terms this must raise questions over the future of The Union. In black and white terms, yes The UK voted to leave the EU, however it is important to note that while England and Wales may have voted to leave, Scotland and Northern Ireland to remain.
To be clear what I am putting forward is based on the logic that a democracy cannot change it’s mind (which is ludicrous as a notion. If that’s the case explain to me why we have elections?) Nevertheless this must also be the logic on which I build this argument for it highlights the danger that possessing such a mentality has for this country and it’s future.
With that in mind, this is where the combination of the individual national identities of the members of The Union and their varying levels of self governance combine into something else, which is distinctly different national interests within The UK. Therefore if Brexit is truly about taking back control then the decision on what this means for future of The Union must come from the devolved governments.
Why? Well, there is a clear variance in national interests between it’s members, but this time not within the microcosm of internal policy, but rather our geopolitical position. If half wish to remove themselves from EU membership, is it fair that the other half should do the same even though that is clearly not the will of their people, therefore not in their national interests?
So fine, if Brexit is truly about taking back control from those dastardly unelected European bureaucrats because it is ultimately an affront to sovereignty and democracy as we were told, then why should the decision of England and Wales be imposed on Scotland and Northern Ireland? Surely the democratic thing to do is allow them to decide there own futures, right?
The will of a people is a funny thing, you can argue what it means until the sun goes down, but the statistics of a majority cannot be denied. Therefore the fact that Northern Ireland and Scotland wished to remain in The EU means that in the event of any actual Brexiting they should be the masters of their own fates.
For Scotland, simply an Independence Referendum. If they leave The Union then they are free to pursue an attempt at gaining EU membership. For Ireland something seemingly as simple, but with potentially much great repercussions. I mean, there is an independent Ireland, so you can’t really offer Northern Ireland an independence referendum in the same way you could Scotland.
There is also a question of Irish identity. The question for Northern Ireland is would the rather remain in The Union, or unify with The Republic of Ireland so as to remain in The EU. The answers to both could kill The Union, but that would be the price. Was this not, after all, about taking back control?