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Context : UnitedKingdom

Quora Answer : Do you, as a supporter of a second Brexit referendum, support a second Scottish independence referendum?

Dec 11, 2018


And, in fact, they're closely related.

Brexit is really the result of an upsurging wave of English nationalism that has no natural outlet. And possibly is causing trouble because it's being submerged in the idea of "the United Kingdom", and doesn't have a way to express itself the way that Scottish Nationalism or even Welsh and Irish nationalisms do.

One solution might well be to break up the UK altogether. Let's just have an independent Scotland, Northern Ireland, England and Wales. Allow each of them to stay in or leave the EU as per their preference.

Letting go of NI solves all of the problems of the NI backstop.

But letting go of Scotland might also help England.

There's another way to see Brexit, Scottish Nationalism, the Union and the EU.

The Union itself was a network, designed to bring four separate entities together into a mutually supportive entity. Like all networks, it offered the usual network services : harmonizing standards, establishing communication norms, enabling easy movement of people, goods and services.

It gave those benefits in return for the members submerging some "sovereignty" and "cultural identity" in the new superstate.

But then, when the EU came along it was immediately a rival to the UK as such a network. The Scottish Nationalists grasped this early on with their slogan "separate but in Europe".

The network of the UK, tying together England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, was redundant if you could be part of a wider network, but with just as much cultural identity. Scottish cultural identity was as potent and strong whether Scotland was in the smaller network of the UK or the larger network of Europe.

Look at it from this perspective, that the UK is a network of smaller entities. And that the EU offers smaller entities the possibility of a being in a larger network. And you'll see that the EU is an existential threat to the UK.

It's like Facebook to MySpace. A bigger, better network luring all your friends to join it.

The problem is that England. conflating itself with the UK, is saddled with the cost of trying to maintain the UK network, and keeping other members like NI and Scotland happy and on-board.

Ultimately, this might be long-term unsustainable. If there's going to be a big network available, England might or might not like to be part of it - and at the moment, doesn't seem to want to - but it would be easier for England to plot a course for itself without being saddled with the other parts of an increasingly disunited kingdom.

So yes, I think if anything good can be salvaged from Brexit, it might well come from blowing up the United Kingdom altogether, to leave three (or even four) nations each with the autonomy to to find its own way and forge its own relationship with Europe.

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