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Is this the end of United Kindom?


fdBangla Mirror Desk :

The United Kingdom has voted to leave the European Union — over the resounding objections of two of its constituent nations, in the recent referendum, which will see the UK is leaving the UK, within two years of triggering article 50.

Scotland, still nominally a member of the increasingly Ruritanian island state, voted against Brexit to the tune of 62 percent. Northern Ireland, the only part of the United Kingdom to share a border with another EU nation, voted to remain by 56 percent.

The democratic deficit, a concept British unionists have tried fruitlessly to erase from the popular consciousness for decades, is once again unavoidable. And the chances of Irish unification and Scottish independence just got a whole lot better.

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister and leader of the Scottish National Party, reacted to last month’s result by declaring her government’s intention to defend the Scottish people’s wish to remain in the European Union by any means available, up to and including a second referendum on independence.

Almost simultaneously, Sinn Féin followed up on its promise to press for a vote on Irish unification should Northern Ireland be removed from the European Union at the behest of predominately English votes.

Sturgeon has been meeting with every EU official who will take her call in the hopes of securing Scotland’s continued membership, whether as a constituent unit of the United Kingdom or not. Reportedly, she has been met with sympathy but little else. As Andrew Tickell recently observed, the European Union is comprised of member states, “and until it is independent, Scotland remains a stateless nation.”

This likely suits Sturgeon just fine: if there is no way for Scotland to remain in Europe as part of the United Kingdom (contrary to unionist guarantees in 2014), it not only provides “a material change in circumstances” — the SNP’s phrase for the conditions under which they would call another referendum — but substantially increases their chances of winning a second vote.

In short, while Scottish independence is by no means guaranteed, it is now more likely than even its most optimistic supporters would have dreamed mere weeks ago.

In the case of Northern Ireland, those observers confidently treating unification as a virtual certainty are, to put it politely, only superficially familiar with the difficulties involved. Northern Ireland today is not the Northern Ireland of the Troubles, but neither has it extricated itself entirely from the divisions and uneasy compromises left over from those years.

Nevertheless, even the British state’s historic distrust of participatory democracy may not be enough to preclude a vote.

Under the Good Friday Agreement, Northern Ireland can hold a border poll when there’s a clear indication that public opinion supports a united Ireland. And while such data has not yet presented itself — despite Northern Ireland’s majority vote for Remain — it is unlikely that Sinn Féin would have made its demands if it didn’t believe majority support was achieveable in the near future.

Should that backing hinge upon membership in the European Union, however, the Irish left — without which Sinn Féin’s vaunted anti-austerity credentials disappear — would have to reconcile such a campaign with some of their existing commitments, including their long-standing opposition to EU-mandated water charges in the Republic.

Self-declared followers of James Connolly would need to convince themselves that, despite the painful memories of the Greek experience, EU diktats could be resisted from within.

As it stands, no single nation, sovereign or otherwise, has the ability to reform the European Union into anything resembling a progressive institution, or render it irrelevant with a viable left-wing alternative.

Only the kind of international solidarity between insurgent nations that so terrifies Gordon Brown could pull off such a feat. As Hugo Chavez once put it, it will be difficult “to silence the multiple chants sang by multiple nations which, faced with the hegemonic globalization imposed by capitalism, have started to build counter-hegemonic globalizations.”

Such tasks occupy histories not yet written. Right now, many socialist advocates of self-determination, in Europe and beyond, are willing and eager to find inspiration in their respective national struggles. The question of the hour is: what can they offer each other beyond that?