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A Murky Breakup on the Cards

Will the breakup of the United Kingdom be the next domino to fall after Brexit? As nationalist sentiments grow in constituent nations such as Wales and Scotland, the possibility of secession looms large

The Britain-EU breakup may not be the only one that we would be fortunate enough to witness. It isn’t difficult to imagine a United Kingdom no longer ‘united’ – the signs are there, more than visible to us. Whether this would be for better or worse can be reserved for a later debate. But greater nationalist sentiments burgeoning in the constituent nations of UK, including Wales, could mean a sure end to the union under Britain – the long history of the country might as well be re-drafted, pushing it further towards the periphery.

Back in 2017 when Theresa May was still Prime Minister, Scotland saw a rise in popular petitions and opinion favouring secession from the UK. A 2014 referendum in Scotland did see a defeat for this cause of separation, but we’ve progressed by 6 years, seen Brexit materialize in entirety, and coursed through troubling social security and economic turbulence – there can be no perfect guarantee that the response today would resemble that of 2014. Once secession is initiated by Scotland, the rest could fall as easily in a domino effect.

What’s even more concerning is the calm with which Boris Johnson treats the matter of a trade deal – with no provision in store, the UK could be playing with the possibility of violence in Northern Ireland. What was secured by the Good Friday Agreement could tumble down and scar the politics of Britain conspicuously. Obstructive infrastructure and security checks along the border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland can be a potential stimulus for protest, acknowledges the MI5. Despite having such warnings loom over him, Johnson seems at ease to put up with a no-deal situation. But with everybody aiming to secure the economy and prevent supply-delays in a pandemic scenario (and even for a post-COVID recovery), a no-deal Brexit would be the ultimate chaos which had for long been kept at bay. Particularly in Northern Ireland, hurdles in trade can play a spoilsport for its agricultural economy. There’s less than a month left for the deadline to be up for the deal, yet the discussions so far have heeded little result.

The British Prime Minister has been in denial about the role his stance has had to play in the growing discontent within the UK and the subsequent desire for Balkanization – the blame has been generously diverted onto the EU. The latest in Johnson’s array of problematic decisions has come in the form of the Internal Market Bill that got assent from the House of Commons. It overlooks years of negotiations and the Northern Ireland Protocol which was a significant feature of the Withdrawal Agreement. Despite Boris Johnson’s hesitation to introduce a backstop arrangement like May did, he did make it appear that there would be no hard line drawn between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic – this has taken a U-turn now. The best advice that anyone can give the man is to ramp up his efforts to make a proper trade deal come to light! It cannot be pushed further ahead like the non-existent healthcare plan that the American President likes to brag about.

Brexit is likely to be the complete destruction of Britain’s colonial ghosts – centuries of annexation and forceful occupation would be unwritten if the four nations part and welcome renewed autonomy. Whatever Britain chooses to do, it must remember that any string pulled apart, estranging itself diplomatically from its own integral parts and neighbours, would be a severe blow to its own economic and political fabric. A geopolitical tip towards the US might appear to be a rather optimistic way ahead, but the neighbourhood cannot be scorned at. Balance would be most suited for the UK’s current predicament.

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