Scottish independence isn’t Boris Johnson’s only worry now
By Norrie Hunter: The recent general election in Ireland was shaken by the support won by Sinn Fein. The previously small left-wing republican party with historic links with the IRA now is sitting as the biggest party in the Irish parliament.
Politically hostile are the two main centre-right parties of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael both who are reluctant to share power with Sinn Fein. But because of the political arithmetic, they need to either operate as a minority government or power share with another party. However, it must be noted that Sinn Fein’s ultimate political goal is for the reunification of Ireland even though this was not discussed much during the election. In a poll last year in the Irish Times, less than half the Northern Irish voters felt a connection with the UK and some 59 per cent of those surveyed who identified as having no religion said they would vote for Northern Ireland to leave the UK and join the Republic.
This puts more pressure on the UK government who have Scotland and Wales to contend with. It is always been said that if Scottish Independence is on the increase the amount of polling decreases. We have not had a poll in months. In Wales, they are coming round to the notion of Independence with marches and pro-independence parties such as Plaid Cymru hoovering up the votes just like the SNP in Scotland.
I fear with Scotland gone a rise in English nationalism would arise and we (in Wales) would be seen as subsidy junkeys’
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Carwyn Jones the former Labour party first minister said ‘ I don’t think that when Scotland leaves the UK anything left is workable. Because England and Wales just wouldn’t work 56million against 3 million and I fear with Scotland gone a rise in English nationalism would arise and we (Wales) would be seen as subsidy junkeys’. With the UK leaving the EU these positions on independence will harden.
The BBC has continually seen the devolved nations from an English viewpoint and has played down the independence debate. However, it cannot be denied that Scotland at least has become more assertive and the recent elections have seen the SNP get bigger support than ever with 80% of the seats in the last General Election and are hot favourites to romp home in the Scottish elections next year. As expected the SNP will go to the country on a second referendum ticket. If returned in substantial numbers it will be very difficult for Boris Johnson to counter.
Even worse news for the unionists is the effects of Brexit on business and travellers. We are now seeing the queues form at the airports for non-EU citizens and the British complaining of discrimination at the departure gates at European destinations. Norwegian journalist Morten Overbye commented ‘the people who voted against freedom of movement are surprised they no longer move so freely’.
The new immigration laws brought in on the back of the Brexit campaign of anti-immigration has caused untold bewilderment. The UK is to close its borders to unskilled workers and those who can’t speak English as part of a fundamental overhaul of immigration laws that will end the era of cheap EU labour in factories, warehouses, hotels and restaurants despite warnings from Pret A Manger two years ago that only one in 50 job applicants were British. Similarly, with the care sector, Diane Abbot MP was scathing that most people who come here to work can already speak English. she said – “But are we really going to block maths geniuses whose English isn’t great? It’s inhumane and damaging.”
As businesses close and employment grows the loss of staff will hit the economy hard and the blame lies squarely with the Conservative Government.
As if all this wasn’t bad enough, floods across England and Wales have ruined households, stopped traffic with landslides and seen farm animals being moved to higher ground. Boris Johnson has been nowhere to calm the fears of those badly affected. Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price questioned why Mr Johnson had not convened Cobra, the government’s emergency committee. The Prime Ministers office said ‘Boris Johnson’s flooding no-show is to avoid a media jamboree.’ This was a lame excuse as even Prince Charles was out visiting flood-hit areas of North Wales. Just exactly what he was supposed to be doing wasn’t clear but at least he was doing more than the prime minister. Meanwhile, in Scotland we were suffering the same weather patterns and because the Scottish government with EU backing set up flood defences we escaped the worst of the damage. Just another reason Scotland wants to stay in Europe. Compare and contrast the usefulness of the two unions.
And so after just a few weeks in office, Boris Johnson is fending off Sinn Fein in Ireland and the new surge towards an all Ireland. The Scottish independence question will never go away and the Welsh are now actively campaigning for an Independent Wales. Johnson’s lack of thought or care for the poor people who have lost their businesses and homes in the North of England may well have those he thought were on his side suddenly attacking his policies. Oh and the small matter of the Russian dossiers hasn’t gone away either. It will get worse before it gets better for Boris Johnson.
Norrie Hunter has an MA in Politics and International Relations – is a columnist for the SNP independence magazine and co-founder and presenter of Caledon Media.