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UK politics

Only Brexit can stop Britain breaking apart

Standing up for Scotland: Mel Gibson in Braveheart (1995)

I’m starting to worry about the future of the United Kingdom, says Dominic Sandbrook in the Daily Mail. We are one of Europe’s “last surviving multi-national states” – the likes of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Soviet Union are long gone. And support for a break-up is growing. In Northern Ireland, a majority want a referendum on Irish unification in the next decade; 55% of Scots say they would now vote to secede; even in “hitherto quiescent Wales”, support for independence is growing. In Scotland, the only real signs of the British state are the Post Office, the pound and the monarchy. Is that enough?

Oddly enough, “the trump card for the union may be Brexit”. I used to think the fact that most Scots voted to remain in the EU would add fuel to the independence fire. But if Scotland voted to leave now, it’d “find itself outside both the EU and the UK, with no viable currency, colossal debts and a hard border from the Solway Firth to the North Sea”. If, in contrast, we can prosper outside the EU, “Britishness will seem a much more attractive proposition”. Also, all successful nations need something to define themselves against – and the EU “leviathan” may become just that for us. How ironic that something as divisive as Brexit may turn out to be the thing that binds our country together.