Bishop is right in spirit when he says the whole UK must have say in its destiny

News Letter editorial on Friday June 24 2022:

By Editorial
Friday, 24th June 2022, 3:00 am
Updated Friday, 24th June 2022, 3:03 am
News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

After many years of complacency and naivete in much of the British establishment, now there is awareness that the Union is in peril.

It is in peril for all sorts of reasons, including a failure to think through the implications of devolution, and the need for clear parameters to it.

The House of Lords has debated the stresses on the Union, and those pressures are considerable.

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For example, there is still a view that increased devolution powers will alleviate those pressures. In fact, there is every reason to believe it will merely increase them and that the local assembly executives will utilise such powers to distance themselves from the centre of the nation.

The obvious example is the Scottish nationalist government that is obsessed not merely with another independence referendum, but with using the levers of local power to create difference and even dissent between Scotland and England.

Sinn Fein has the same plan here. Not so long ago, it was isolated in its endeavours. Now it has the support of much of the non aligned political centre on plans to create difference with Great Britain. The NI Protocol is the most obvious example of this political movement, but by no means the only one.

In the Lords debate, a bishop suggested that a future Scottish independence vote should include all four nations.

This intriguing, albeit unwieldy, proposal has the effect of flagging up a disastrous concession made by foolish UK governments – the idea that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can all leave the UK in a 50% plus one vote. London has almost signed away the right of the nation itself to have a say in whether a region can split away, something Madrid or Washington DC or Paris would never do about their own regions. The UK can say no to a plebiscite, but its leaders have let a situation arise in which three of the four home nations can be turned into places of perpetual separatist tension.

Thus the bishop is right in spirit, if not detail. We must get back to the idea that the UK as a whole has a say in its destiny.