One of the things about the whole Brexit dynamic that I fail to grasp, and by Brexit dynamic I don’t just mean the referendum held on June 23, 2016 and its aftermath but rather the whole of Eurosceptic thought since at least 2009, is the attitudes towards the Union shown by the Brexit passionate. Almost everyone who is a Brexiteer, be they from the left or the right, is pro-Union – publically at least. Yet the two things don’t hang together at all. In fact, Brexit is the biggest threat to the Union conceivable, as we’re finally seeing this week.
What is worse is that all the talk from hardore Brexiteers, particularly on the right, has always subconsciously supported the fact that Brexit is more important than the Union to them, and furthermore that Brexit as a project is mostly England centred. The “Singapore off the coast France” narrative is transparently focused on a city state, and thus is about making London even more better off than the rest of the country than it is already. Stoking up English identity has always been part of the Eurosceptic plan – again, mostly because they knew most of a potential Leave vote was going to come from English nationalists or at the very least, people with a strong English identity. This was always going to lead to further loss of identification with the Union for many, yet again, this was taken as a price worth paying for Brexit.
That’s before we get into Northern Ireland, which was always going to be heavily impacted by Brexit. A united Ireland, totally off the radar pre-2016, is now much more possible than anyone could have imagined a couple of years ago. Then there’s Scotland, which hasn’t seen a particularly sustained spike in pro-independence sentiment since June 2016 but just might if we end up with a “no deal” Brexit (just the kind the hardcore Brexiteers want), or the fact that it will someday soon hit Welsh farmers that they are almost certainly going to be worse off post-Brexit.
I get the vision that the “no deal” Brexit types buy into. I’ll even go as far as to say that they might be partially right, and a swashbuckling, free trading future could be just a fingers up to Juncker away. I really don’t think so, but for the moment let’s just say they’re right. Even if that’s the case, the Union will still suffer greatly for it – even if “no deal” Brexit works out better than anyone could imagine, including Jacob Rees-Mogg, I mean. That’s why I find the passionate pro-Union guff so hard to bear; they are pushing for a plan of action that will almost certainly destroy the Union, if not immediately then in the next decade anyhow. And I figure many of them must know that and don’t really care all that much, deep down. If England becomes an independent nation, shorn of its Celtic fringes, because of Brexit, I think some hardcore Brexiteers wouldn’t just think that was a fair trade – they might even see the, dare I say it here, upside to the whole thing.