With Brexit and COVID, UK may breakup


After fulfilling his lifelong dream of becoming prime minister a year and a half ago, Boris Johnson of Britain invented an additional title for himself: Minister for the Union. The new badge was meant to demonstrate his dedication to strengthening relations between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which together form the United Kingdom.

Johnson pledged to “get Brexit”, which he did with the skin of his teeth, a last-minute trade deal with the European Union before Britain pulled out of the club altogether on 31 December.

But whether Brexit was believed to help end the bitter domestic division has only served to intensify them. Scotland and Northern Ireland voted against leaving the European Union in 2016 but were powerless to stop it. Many of his residents renewed their displeasure with Johnson’s government in London, according to the trade deal.

Add to widespread criticism about dealing with the epidemic – the leader of Scotland is believed to do a better job – and Johnson now faces an uncomfortable question: Is this self-styled minister for the union instead? Can read your funeral?

A person carries a British flag and a European Union flag outside the Houses of Parliament in London in 2016.

A man waving both the British flag and the EU flag outside the Houses of Parliament in 2016 in London in an anti-Brexit protest.

(Justin Tallis / AFP / Getty Image)

If Michael Sturrock of Edinburgh is any indication, Johnson’s desire to keep the four territories of Britain (the British call them “four nations”) is in real trouble welded together, a disintegrating state in danger of disintegrating. with.

The 26-year-old Stroker was among 55% of Scottish voters who opted for Scotland to remain part of the UK in the 2014 independence referendum. But he never imagined that he would be expelled from the EU against his will while staying in Britain.

Now he is in favor of Scotland. In an unprecedented development, at least 18 successful elections in recent months have led to an abundance or majority of Scottish residents agreeing with him.

“Brexit has been the turning point for me and so many people,” Strock said. “The big issue for me is getting my European citizenship back. I was devastated, really. And so angry. “

Although he regrets that youth like him cannot pursue the dream of living and working independently anywhere within the European Union of 27 countries, he also adheres to the policies of Johnson’s Conservative government because Scotland’s social democratic bent has removed that segregation is the remedy.

He said, “I’m no longer sure whether living in the UK is Scotland’s democratic wish or the best way to achieve the kind of society we want.” “Freedom is the way we can achieve it.”

Sturrock has set up a website, NoToYes, as a place where he and other voters who have turned sides on the Scottish independence debate can complete and share their stories. He was surprised by the amount of interest from voters across the political spectrum.

“We need to move forward as a movement,” he said.

Sterrock’s ideas of shifting are music to the ears of Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who has greatly hung his political career in the fight for Scottish independence.

Brexit has been a “gift of the gods” for the Scottish National Party, said Thomas Divine, one of Scotland’s leading historians. Not only could Sturgeon point to the fact that most Scots did not want to leave the European Union in the first place, but the new reality of trade in the post-Brexit world has given Scottish businesses a tough competition in recent weeks.

The local fish and seafood industry says its trade with Europe – more than $ 1.3 billion for Scottish businesses – is on the verge of collapse as new checks and long customs forms on the border have led to cancellation of orders and Have failed to achieve destinations on time.

“Looks like what has happened is a slow burn in terms of the results of Brexit,” said Devine. “There is a growing feeling that nations are going in different directions.”

Sturgeon now plans to garner a symbolic vote on the Scottish divorce from Britain if his party wins the local elections in May. The goal is to put more pressure on Johnson to give another independence referendum, as no new referendum is binding until approved by the central government in London.

The transition to life outside the European Union is no less or complex across the Irish Sea.

In Northern Ireland, where a fragile peace between the republics and the British loyalists has been brewing for nearly 20 years, there was apprehension that Brexit could revive communal tensions if a hard border grows between Ireland and the Republic of Ireland Which remains a stable member. Of the European Union. To avoid this, the new trade deal leaves European Ireland inside the EU single market for goods and, to a lesser extent, its customs framework, even though on paper Northern Ireland is officially European with the rest of Britain. Exited the union.

The half-baked, half-baked people are angry with those who see it as a wedge between the people of Northern Ireland and their compatriots in Britain.

“It seems we have left the European Union and left Britain,” said Harry Vick, CEO of the Northern Ireland Fish Producer Organization. “We feel greatly encouraged by UK politicians.”

After serving in the British Royal Navy for 20 years and living in England for many years, Vick described himself as a proud Confederate. But he now feels “like a second-class citizen”, and warns that those calling for the unification of Ireland will point to the Brexit deal and say: “Look at what Britain has done for you.”

“It would be hard to argue that they don’t have a point,” he said. “Brexit has only served to highlight our division.”

Customs officials examine vehicles at a ferry terminal in Northern Ireland as part of new post-Brexit requirements.

Customs officials checked vehicles at a ferry terminal in Northern Ireland on New Year’s Day, after Britain completed its withdrawal from the European Union.

(Peter Morrison / Associated Press)

Whether Johnson may arise in Scotland and Northern Ireland due to discontent and disillusionment is an open question. His hoax, sometimes bombastic and often mockingly – tolerated or even enjoyed resting times – has not helped him as Britain has threatened that he will begin to open the seas rapidly.

One of his predecessors as Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, said the country now faced a dire choice: a “reform state” or a “failed state”. Four parts of the United Kingdom must “immediately rediscover that which holds together” or threatens a union breakup, wrote Brown – a proud Scotsman in the Daily Telegraph this week.

The COVID-19 pandemic – which has plunged Britain into a deep recession and the UK’s highest incidence of over 100,000 deaths on Tuesday – has also laid bare that despite Johnson’s efforts, the nation’s isolated How different the different parts are. Promote solidarity by developing a war spirit.

Each of the four regions controls its own health policy, which has resulted in lockdowns being set up at different times in the UK, with schools remaining open in one part but not another, and a patchwork of rules and restrictions Joe Johnson is more visible leader of England rather than the entire United Kingdom.

In Scotland, Sturgeon has been credited with acting more decisively and transparently, out of the UK’s 67 million people, although their administration has not really been able to detect coronovirus. According to the Scottish Government, as of Wednesday, at least 5,888 Scots had died of COVID-19, a higher per capita rate than in the US

“The assumption is that Sturgeon handled the epidemic better than Boris Johnson,” said historian Divine. “The reality may be somewhat different, but it’s not a damn thing. The assumption is that he has done a great job. They can’t stand Johnson here.”

Although Britain is not in danger of breaking out tomorrow, and is trained on getting people’s immediate attention through the epidemic, political analyst Corey Brown Swann said the centrifugal forces being felt in Scotland and Northern Ireland would be Was unlikely.

“There is a sense of union in Peril … Brexit is a struggle to articulate the matter of union in the world,” said Brown Swann, a fellow at the Center for Constitutional Change on Edinburgh.

“Everyone is focused on avoiding the current crisis, but you have a call for an independence referendum [in Scotland] This year or next, ”Brown Swan said. “If you look at independence in Scotland, can Scotland become a tipping point?”

Boyle is a special correspondent.

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