The United Kingdom is no more. Who would have foreseen this a few short months ago ?How improbable was it ?
So what now for Norneverland in the nuclear fallout of the Brexit vote to leave the EU? It has exposed the “United Kingdom” as a completely disunited entity.The fault-lines are there for all to see.Schematic maps have been drawn to better understand how the voting went across the land .The sexes basically agree on exit or stay but not necessarily in the same family.Mum and dad might well be at it hammer -and- tongs over the issue. Scotland and Northern Ireland , except for a couple of hard-line right -wing unionist dominated counties in the north -east, very obviously voted to remain in the EU, while England and Wales for the most part decided to leave. It wasn’t even as simple as that though. When you look at the details, London voted in huge numbers to stay and the vote was fairly evenly divided across England and Wales to Leave or To Stay. The “Leave” vote shaded it by only a few percent. It amounted to a million people out of about 65 million tipping the balance. In something as important as this the population are literally at sixes and sevens howling across the divide.It is making a frighful noise.
The real surprise was that It’s also now apparent that the real fault lines in voting are between the young and the old . The young, obviously thinking of the stability of their future lives and their freedom to travel , live and work as “Europeans”, favoured staying , by all accounts.When you are young ,”freedom” is a very important concept . Various financial and social experts in the UK and across the world also expressed a view that to leave the EU would be madness and will bring social chaos and eventually a worse scenario than anything like the one we are now experiencing.They said you might think you’re hard done by in the EU but wait until you get a whiff of the modern world outside of it.The Empire is long gone after all ,and had it not been for the Beatlemania years of the 1960’s which made the UK appear much more colourful and exotic on the world’s stage , than it actually was, the UK would be long since forgotten as a major player.
There have been so many intricate relationships and laws built up over this past forty- odd years that it will take a well-paid department of Civil Servants another forty years to gradually sort out and unpick before we can actually crawl out from under this mess. Some are already making preparations as to how this huge , up to now , unnecessary price , might actually be paid now. I suppose it will provide some kind of future employment for the next generation of ministers and clerks, beavering away in well-cushioned offices, but it sounds to me like digging a hole in the road that will have to be re-dug and filled in over and over again for the next forty years.The money to pay for that will not come from anywhere else but the pockets of the British working- man.Where else will it come from?
Many see the generational divide in the vote as a clear demarcation line between the elderly and the young. This has undoubtadle destroyed friendships and put kith and kin at each other’s throats much as any civil war might . Many think the wounds will never heal, so deep do they go. Fathers and sons , mothers and daughters are completely divided in opinion. The one thing it has done is that it has politicised many who beforehand had no thought or notion of politics. It has finally made them think in a way that the current younger generation has never really done before. It is a curious reversal considering that many of their mothers and fathers were similarly politically active for various world causes such as apartheid, civil rights. and the anti-war movement ,when they were of similar age .Some of them were probably the ones who sided with their sons and daughters in the “Stay” vote though.
No matter…the few of these oldsters who sided with their children and voted “Stay” couldn’t stop the fracturing of the entire country. The United Kingdom will never be united again. It has ceased to exist in any real “united” sense. England and possibly ,Wales, sees itself driven by that same vaunting nationalism that one hundred years ago sent a generation of young men out of the trenches across the barbed -wire ,to be mown down in their millions needlessly by German guns.Most , barely knew why they did that either , except that it was somehow “For King and Country” (and because my mates are doing it), even though the reasons were really quite different.Some twenty or thirty years after that debacle which decimated a generation of young, America and Russia came to their aid and defeated Hitler and Germany for them , leaving Britain in poverty while Germany and Europe quickly re-built themselves in the 1950’s and Britain wallowed in “victory” and fairy-tales that they’d actually won something. The children of the 1950’s grew up playing in the bomb craters of London eating rations while Germany grew.
Voting in a referendum is not like electing a government whom you’ll be able to change and dump every few years when you get fed up with their antics .This is something entirely different which ,when changed, is as near immutable as might be possible .There’ll be no changing minds after the event. Of course this is as yet, still only a vote taken to leave the EU. Apparently the ministers in government have to vote it through parliament and maybe that will garner a different result entirely.As things stands, no one seems to be in any great hurry to leave as yet. They are, after, all jumping out into the darkness without a parachute. Most ministers are in favour of staying , no matter what the Great Public might want.
There are many things to sort out , not least what Britain will do when Scotland decides to stay with the EU and break away from the UK.They might just do that by all intents as there is talk of a second referendum.In Ireland we are in a much more complex position. We have Joint First Ministers who are on opposite sides of the result .The right- wing DUP having voted to leave without ever giving a specific reason , economic or otherwise , evident in the voting patterns of somewhere like Antrim, whereas most nationalists and many less hard-right unionists, have voted to stay.That leaves us with a DUP minister being out of step with the wishes of the majority of the people of Norneverland. That circle can never be squared but what it has really exposed is that the DUP never accepted the spirit of the EU and never accepted the idea of “soft” European borders either . They were much happier when they had control of border security intheir personal hands and it provided jobs for their menfolk and women who raised their families on the back of it. As someone recently pointed out …there were no Nationalist B-Men. That will never return, of course. What they don’t really realise is that England now sees itself as an even more separate entity and will be even more alienated from the entire islands of Britain and Ireland when the Republic of Ireland remains in the EU and many Irish Nationalists and even unionists in the north and across England will apply to hold Irish EU passports in increasing numbers, if they do not already hold them anyway.Many will claim Irish citizenship for the very pragmatic reason that it will allow easier access to Europe and still provide all the travel , tax , health and citizenship benefits which they’ve grown accustomed to. You can see the sense in that.
The real egg to be cracked is whether or not the English will want to support the Northern Irish “Out There” across the Irish Sea anymore.This vote has shown up how insular and Little Englander many of them have become. They haven’t really that much interest in us other than to send their young men over here to play at being soldiers and when they stop and think now that while they are leaving the EU for ostentiably financial reasons ,that they have also got a money drain flowing into the north of Ireland to keep the paddies in the style to which they have become accustomed. They might just have second thoughts on that just when my old age pension kicks in next year.If they can so easily vote to leave the EU, it is no stretch to imagine them voting to dump us too. Many didn’t think too deeply about that one .They might not think too deeply about another referendum ,should that choice come up , either.
When the UK leaves the EU the Good Friday Agreement will come into scrutiny too because it intimately involves a EU member in the shape of the Republic of Ireland and how the EU by extension ,helps and operates the peace process here. You might say that without the EU we would still be killing each other hand- over- fist.Hard unionism have a fantasy that somehow they would have “won” that unwinnable conflict but that is simple macho-posturing, for without the combined UK behind the project they would and will have a much weaker hand. All that would be left would be gang-warfare on a large scale. The british people, newly – released from the EU are not about to again begin spending billions supporting another conflict here without the aid of the EU. Even less so if their husbands and sons are being sent over here to die for nothing, while they pay for the ticket.
The instability of our position will be very evident when it is realised just how broken down and completely un-united the United Kingdom actually is now . The only thing that would possibly re-unite it would be if they could cobble together another neat little war somewhere and convince their working-class youngsters that it would be a great and grand thing to lay down their young lives for their country.
I think that many in unionism and even Irish nationalism, might be very shocked to discover just how fragile and utterly dis-illusioned it all is.It is not feasible for a new Norneverland of possibly only two counties ,to exist as it does as a separate entity outside of the UK or the EU and on the other hand the Republic of Ireland are by no means ready yet to re-assimilate us into their bosom even if we wanted them to under the present circumstances.