Price of Brexit May Be United Kingdom Itself

The British flag flies over the Houses of Parliament in London, England
The British flag flies over the Houses of Parliament in London, England (Unsplash/Matt Milton)

Britain’s Conservatives won the election this month, but it may come at the expense of the union of the United Kingdom their party — which has “Unionist” in its name — is sworn to protect.

Conservatives neglected their responsibility to the union by calling the EU referendum in the first place. David Cameron hoped to resolve an intraparty dispute over Europe. He ended up dividing the four nations of the UK. Majorities in Northern Ireland and Scotland voted to remain in the EU. They were outvoted by majorities in England and Wales.

Rather than attempt a “soft” Brexit that might appease Scots and prevent either a border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland or regulatory divergence between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, Cameron’s successors Theresa May and Boris Johnson negotiated a hard break: leaving the European customs union and single market in order to regain full control over immigration and economic policy.

The price could be Scottish independence and Irish unification, making Britain smaller than it has been in three centuries — and making a mockery of Brexiteers’ aspiration to lead a “Global Britain” outside the EU. Read more “Price of Brexit May Be United Kingdom Itself”

Second Scottish Referendum Should Wait

Statue of a unicorn in Edinburgh, Scotland, March 11, 2014
Statue of a unicorn in Edinburgh, Scotland, March 11, 2014 (byronv2)

Scotland’s National Party is arguing for a second independence referendum after gaining seats in Britain’s general election on Thursday.

Party leader and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon believes she has a mandate and Britain’s imminent departure from the EU changes the situation from 2014, when Scots rejected independence 55 to 45 percent.

She is right on the first point, but not yet on the second. Read more “Second Scottish Referendum Should Wait”

Northern Irish, Scots Would Rather Stay in EU Than UK

Flags of the United Kingdom and Scotland in Sumburgh on the Shetland Islands, July 3, 2014
Flags of the United Kingdom and Scotland in Sumburgh on the Shetland Islands, July 3, 2014 (Julien Carnot)

Without an agreement to regulate Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, a majority of Northern Irish and Scots would rather remain in the bloc than in the United Kingdom.

Even with the deal Prime Minister Theresa May has negotiated, which provides for a two-year transition out of the EU and avoids a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, a majority of Scots would prefer to break away from the UK. Read more “Northern Irish, Scots Would Rather Stay in EU Than UK”

Germany Approves Russian Pipeline, Five Stars Call for Deal with League

Russian president Vladimir Putin speaks with German chancellor Angela Merkel in Moscow, May 10, 2015
Russian president Vladimir Putin speaks with German chancellor Angela Merkel in Moscow, May 10, 2015 (Kremlin)

German regulators have approved the completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which would help Russia bypass Ukraine and its other former satellite states in Eastern Europe.

Germany and the Netherlands, the two main beneficiaries of the pipeline, are virtually isolated in Europe in their support for it.

Nord Stream 2 would double the capacity of the existing Baltic Sea pipeline, but it makes no economic sense. Russia uses perhaps 60 percent of its existing pipeline capacity. The only reason for adding a connection is that Russia wants to be able to blackmail Ukraine without interrupting its gas supply to the rest of Europe.

Regulators in Denmark, Finland and Sweden still need to sign off on the project. Read more “Germany Approves Russian Pipeline, Five Stars Call for Deal with League”

If Northern Ireland Gets Special Deal, London and Scotland Want One Too

View of the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland, November 16, 2011
View of the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland, November 16, 2011 (Wikimedia Commons/Ronnie Macdonald)

The leaders of London and Scotland have called for special status if Northern Ireland is somehow partially exempt from Brexit.

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, tweets:

Londoners overwhelmingly voted to remain in the EU and a similar deal here could protect tens of thousands of jobs.

Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister of Scotland, agrees:

If one part of UK can retain regulatory alignment with EU and effectively stay in the single market (which is the right solution for Northern Ireland) there is surely no good practical reason why others can’t.

A majority of Scots also to stay in the EU last year. Like Londoners, they were overruled by majorities in favor of Brexit in England and Wales. Read more “If Northern Ireland Gets Special Deal, London and Scotland Want One Too”

Scotland Delays Independence Plans in Wake of Election Defeat

Nicola Sturgeon
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon of Scotland gives a news conference in Edinburgh, June 24, 2016 (Scottish Government)

Scotland’s ruling nationalists have delayed plans for a second independence referendum with Nicola Sturgeon, the regional first minister, arguing it is “too soon right now” to make a decision.

The climbdown comes after the Scottish National Party went down from 50 to 37 percent support in parliamentary elections. Read more “Scotland Delays Independence Plans in Wake of Election Defeat”

Second Scottish Referendum Unlikely After Voters Punish SNP

Statue of a unicorn in Edinburgh, Scotland, March 11, 2014
Statue of a unicorn in Edinburgh, Scotland, March 11, 2014 (byronv2)

A second Scottish independence referendum seems unlikely after the region’s separatists lost almost half their seats in Britain’s general election.

The Scottish National Party won 56 of Scotland’s 59 seats in Westminster in 2015 but lost 21 of them on Thursday.

Among those defeated were Angus Robertson, the SNP frontman, and Alex Salmond, the former first minister of Scotland. Read more “Second Scottish Referendum Unlikely After Voters Punish SNP”

What Britain’s General Election Result Means

London England
View of the Houses of Parliament from Whitehall in London, England (Shutterstock/Alan Copson)

Britain’s ruling Conservatives are projected to lose control of Parliament. The exit poll for Thursday’s election shows them falling from 330 to 314 seats. Twelve more are needed for a majority.

Assuming the exit poll isn’t too far off, what does this mean for Britain’s next government, its major political parties and the process of divorcing the United Kingdom from the EU? Read more “What Britain’s General Election Result Means”