Another election has been determined by big corporate money combined with targeted internet misinformation, this time in what is about to become the un-United Kingdom.
In Scotland, the Scottish Nationalist Party got 45 per cent of the vote and picked up 13 seats more seats, to take 48 of Scotland’s 59 seats. Presumably, those voters would all vote for independence. Add to that independence supporters among the people who voted for other parties or not at all, and a majority for independence is there. After the full horror of Brexit (including withdrawal of EU projects in Scotland) and a parsimonious Johnson Government are realised, independence supporters would be right to conclude that Scotland would be better off as independent and in the EU.
Even though UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ruled out a referendum, the Scottish regional Parliament could act unilaterally. The Spanish regional Parliament in Catalonia did just that but the central government ignored the result, leading to chaotic and violent demonstrations.
Meanwhile, in Northern Ireland, for the first time, Nationalists (who seek reunion with the South) got more seats than Unionists (who want to stay with Britain). The two unionist parties got just 42 per cent of the vote. Parties open to reunion with the Republic of Ireland got more than 50 per cent of the vote.
It should trigger the Good Friday Agreement clause which says a referendum must be called by the UK Secretary of State for Northern Ireland “when it appears likely that a majority of the people would vote in favour of a united Ireland”.
On one hand, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is in Johnson’s anti-referendum government so will oppose a referendum, but, on the other hand, faced with a post-Brexit hard border with the Republic of Ireland and faced with growing (and possibly violent) demands for a referendum, the UK Government might have to relent.
Both Northern Ireland and Scotland voted to stay in the EU in the 2016 referendum with large majorities. Johnson has always said the 2016 referendum result should be respected. He would be a hypocrite to deny the 2016 result in Scotland and Northern Ireland by denying them an avenue to remain in the EU.
But before long they will get their way. It would be a case of the Britain leaving the EU and by extension leaving Scotland and Northern Ireland, not Scotland and Northern Ireland leaving Britain. It would leave Johnson Prime Minister of just Little Britain.
This article first appeared in The Canberra Times and other Australian media on 21 December 2019.