Blog

16 december 2019, from empire to england

As the dust settles on friday the13th, a ruthlessly-executed strategy gives boris a strong working majority to 2024. Most likely 2029: he is already showing savvy ability (nhs, education, transport...) to lock in enough of "the north" for another term. Whoever takes over labour, if it gets through transition without too much of a civil war, has a long hard march back, though all things equal there ought to be a strong enough not-boris platform to compete on. The big first of a majority of mps being women is a good foundation. More than likely though, once media interest in the divisions of the leadership contest are done, they will be just noises off. The next years will be the boris show. Policy on the european union will be de-escalation: with brexit "done" at the end of january, it will be in no-one's political interest to get stuck in too much to the details of trade talks, hugely important though they actually are. Pushing back the ludicrous end-of-year deadline won't be much of a big deal. In its place though comes the british union as the big issue of the coming years. It is telling that the government grid led on its very first day with trying to put power-sharing together again in northern ireland. Also little-noticed, is that for the first time ever, the 2019 election returned more nationalists (their goal, a united ireland) than unionists, at exactly the same time as the boris version of brexit draws a stark dividing line across the irish sea. Whilst that avoided destroying the good friday agreement, that dividing line comes at exactly the same time as the demographic alarm clock set in the agreement to allow a referendum once nationalists are a majority starts ticking. The safety valve of the uk and ireland being jointly mediated as fellow eu members has also been removed. The pressure will start now to translate "the consent of a majority of the people of northern ireland" into the poll allowed for. Some years beyond that of course is scotland. The snp will likely use their strengthened mandate to hammer away at the legitimacy of another vote, making the 2021 holyrood elections a straight conservative unionist against snp battle for independence. After that, we may begin to see parliamentary obstructionism and civil disobedience. Both these movements seem on an irrepressible path to secession. Wales may at some point create its own echo. The biggest legacy of brexit is likely to be the transformation of great britain to little england.