June 27, 2016
Well, It happened. Sort of. Did it really? Or let me rephrase that: does it have to?
I am about to argue that Brexit is not still a done deal and that British politicians have opportunities to laugh nervously and pretend it didn’t happen to begin with. I’m about to argue that this is precisely what they should do.
Before we get to the good stuff, let’s recap a bit of my thinking. From last time, one may remember that I posited the idea that if you aren’t able to deliver on election promises, you stand the risk of alienating the electorate. This seems like a pretty obvious statement in itself, but clearly I don’t get much traction with Nigel Farage, because the next day he backpedalled on a campaign promise of investing 230 million GBP into the National Health Services. Figuring it was a done deal, I suppose, he no longer felt he needed the support of the electorate. That’s not necessarily so. There seems to be a degree of electoral buyer’s remorse in Britain, right now. The pound plummeted, stories of xenophobes spewing hateful rhetoric towards “foreigners” has begun to change minds. Moreover, cries like “make Britain white again” it has been to show that maybe the assassination of Jo Cox was perhaps not an isolated incident.
With that, we come to another portion of the population that isn’t happy with this new side of Britain we’ve been seeing. Despite having institutions like the “National Health Service”, the United Kingdom is not a nation state. It has been a multi-national state for nearly a thousand years, blending Celtic and Germanic populations. So, it is no wonder that with the rise of this wave of English nationalism has raised some eyebrows in the other “countries” of the United Kingdom and caused them to raise the cause of nationalism as a shield against English nationalism. This is not good for the United Kingdom. Even, Wales, which voted for Brexit, has had renewed nationalist rumblings. As populist nationalism grows stronger and more legitimate, so too grows separatist nationalism. If Scottish independence seems as sure to succeed now as people think (or at least wish to believe), then the UK has a very real chance of completely “balkanising”, as Scottish success will likely set off a domino effect, emboldening other nationalist movements, at home and abroad. Welsh independence, in an increasing smaller and therefore English dominated union will become increasingly inviting.
So what is to be done? How can we save the UK from being torn apart by nationalists? Well, somewhat ironic that the solution is being offered up by Scottish nationalists.
Nicola Sturgeon suggests that Scottish Parliament could block Brexit. The veracity of the statement is debated, even within Scottish Parliament itself. The best thing for the UK, as I see it, would be if Westminster said “Oh yes, that’s correct” and used it as an excuse to deescalate the situation. If Brexit was more the efforts of Populists and well-meaning and deceived Britons and represents a disaster the institution is trying to avoid, then conceding this point to Ms. Sturgeon becomes a way to save face with the electorate while preventing the so-far disastrous Brexit from getting worse.
Yes, Westminister would be effectively surrendering some legal rights to Holyrood. That would be the cost for the gross incompetence of bringing the country to the point where Nigel Farage could accomplish what Hitler and Napoleon could not: destroy the United Kingdom.
I’m sure it wouldn’t even be difficult to sell. Even ardent nationalists are surely too in love with the national glory to allow the blue in the UK’s red, white and blue to break away. “We have to slow this down and examine the effect on national integrity,” they could say. After all, if the question becomes phrased as “Brexit and independent Scotland and United Ireland” or “EU and UK”, how many people would seriously choose to keep the fictional immigrants out at the expense of making Britain into the laughing stock of the western world. God save us all from Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Why should Nicola Sturgeon go along with this little bit of national theatre? After all, if she stays the course, she can get everything she wants. A number of reasons present itself. A pro-independence victory is not guaranteed, voters may be skittish after the last referendum. Secondly, Spanish opposition to break-away states is likely to persist in order to discourage it’s own nations. Third, even if Spain doesn’t block Scottish accession, it will likely take Scotland several years to re-enter the EU. Being allowed to block the Brexit would, on the other hand, boost her numbers, secure additional powers from Westminster and make her an immensely popular figure among the international crowd and those pro-remain Britons outside of Scotland. She would likely be seen as the greatest politician in recent British history, which should be compared with David Cameron, whose Prime Minstership is currently seen as “worse than Gordon Brown.”
Since Brexit is in no way a binding referendum and most everyone who has any stake in Britain is currently going “OH SHIT, OH SHIT, OH SHIT”, I think that perhaps MPs should feign legal ignorance and just let Ms. Sturgeon block Brexit. Nobody actually wanted to do it anyways. They just wanted to threaten to get more powers from the EU. They did that, now let’s all just sweep it under the rug and pretend it never happened.C. Shannon