The Union is dead. Brexit killed it. It may be a while before the formal funeral but to all intents and purposes the United Kingdom is no more. The clue is in the name. The nation isn’t “united” any more – in fact its barely a nation.
When a new Gibbon describes the Rise and Fall of the British Empire the final chapter will be about England’s failure, having lost everything else, to even hold on to its Celtic fringe. Little England will be forced to retreat behind its historic borders. Sans Empire. Sans Europe. Sans Scots, Irish and Welsh. Sans everything.
North Britain will go away comparatively peacefully. They only have to look at their Irish cousins to see the viability of an English speaking independent state of five million people. And our once friends in Europe will welcome them with open arms and a sackful of cash to smooth the way.
The Welsh will do the same – their road signs have long signalled their cultural distinctiveness . In a uniting Europe that already has small nations like Malta as credible members the Welsh will be as welcome as the Scots.
Ireland is more problematic – for most of the Irish people reunification will finally end their subservience and John Bull will lose his grip on a small part of his “other island”. The Orange folk of the North will protest and will need to be bought off . It won’t be cheap but the prize of a united Ireland, a reborn Scotland and a resurgent Wales in Europe, alongside twenty-seven other sovereign states, is a big one. The EU27 won’t miss the chance to welcome the Celts, and to embarrass the English.
And what of the English when they are forced back behind Offa’s Dyke and below Hadrian’s Wall? Well England is on its own a wealthy country of 56 million people – if we were still in the EU we’d be the fourth most populous country in the Union. Globally on its own England would be comfortably in the worlds top ten national economies. But that is clearly under threat after Brexit.
The Financial Services sector, based in the City of London, drives the British economy and decline is underway as jobs move to locations like Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam which enjoy the four freedoms that Britain has abandoned. To say that the City is too big to fail is complacent – Global financial institutions don’t do sentimentality.
So the future of the British Isles and the tribes that occupy them is clear. Scotland and Wales will become small but authentic and viable sovereign European states. Ireland will reunite and if they can, in the North, put sectarian strife behind them they will prosper. And England will increasingly struggle. Having not just lost an Empire Perfidious Albion will now have to put the Union Flag in the trash bin and try to make a success of being the only nation, Belarus aside, in the European mega-Region with no friends and no meaningful alliances. Good luck with that John Bull.