Scots and Northern Ireland have serious doubts as to whether their future lies in the United Kingdom any longer. The Brexit and the pandemic have knocked the soul out of the Union.
The recent threat by Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon of Scotland to hold a referendum on a UK secession without Westminster’s consent could not have come at a worse time. After all, the Northern Irish are also looking for the exit. 51% of the people of Northern Ireland want to vote on reunification with Ireland within five years. Dissatisfaction with the Brexit works as a fuel.
Sturgeon didn’t just stick a stick of dynamite in the Union. Her Scottish National Party (SNP) uses independence as a leading theme for the May elections. As polls show that her party is heading for a monster victory, she hits the table with her fist. If Prime Minister Boris Johnson continues to refuse to allow Scotland a referendum, Sturgeon will ignite the fire with his own hands.
The SNP does not want to fall into the same trap as Catalonia by issuing an ‘illegal’ referendum. Lawyers believe that this can be done by adjusting the question to some extent. Sturgeon could, for example, ask the voters whether they want Scotland to try to negotiate independence with Westminster. In the event of a win, which is very likely at the moment, SNP Johnson will be put on the spot.
The Scottish desire to secede from the United Kingdom and join the European Union as an independent country is not new. Only seven years ago a referendum on independence took place. Then the secessionists were forced to pick up bakzail. The SNP believes that the brexit situation – a large majority of the Scots are strongly opposed to this – has changed so that the population should have a second chance.
Johnson was able to describe the rebellion of the SNP for a long time as ‘populism of a nationalist movement’, but since Sunday he has not been able to do so. A large-scale survey by The Times revealed that Northern Ireland is also looking for a way out. At present, 47% of the population still want to stay in the Union. However, 11% of the Northern Irish people now have serious doubts, while 42% speak out clearly in favour of reuniting with Ireland. The 11% doubters can destroy the 5% gap at once.
A majority of the Northern Irish under 45 years of age are already in favour of joining the neighbouring country. If more young people in Northern Ireland will soon have the right to vote, this number will only increase. The youth has not experienced the previous struggles actively. The IRA terror is only known to them in history lessons. And they are not, like previous generations, marked by the bloody conflicts and clung to Protestant or Catholic camps.
The Brexit seems to be accelerating this process. Northern Ireland, like Scotland, wanted to remain part of the European Union. The deal with Brussels is now hitting the country hard. The numerous procedures – introduced to ensure the ‘soft’ border with Ireland-have made it possible to fit into the supermarkets. The awards for respecting the well-developed agreement, which ended in 1998 a bloody struggle between the Catholic ‘nationalists’ and Protestant ‘unionists’ who remained loyal to the British crown, are high.
The Good Friday Agreement contains a provision on possible reunification with Ireland. As soon as it is’ plausible ‘ that a majority of the Northern Irish feel this is the case, a referendum must be held. The poll in The Times shows that this moment has almost been achieved.
‘It is time to begin preparations for a reunification with Ireland’, responded Michelle O’neil, leader of Sinn Féin, a ardent supporter of joining Ireland. Prime minister Arlene Foster of the DUP, who wants to stay with the UK, just warned of new unrest and spoke of a “reckless” proposal in the middle of a pandemic, but did not give up the intention.