To make the call on whether Brexit is going to provide a good or bad future for the windswept North Sea that I enjoy musing about is the reserve of crystal ball enthusiasts. But what are we able to discern right now about where the UK as a whole is heading?
Picking apart the implications of Brexit goes much further than the UK v Europe, as was made absolutely clear when Nicola Sturgeon – First Minister of Scotland and the SNP leader – delivered a potentially valedictorian speech to the press the morning after the night before. The tone of the lecture was grim, serious, concerned, and has the potential to rain on the parade of a post-Brexit United Kingdom.
What unexpectedly transpired throughout the early hours of Friday 24th June 2016 was a relatively narrow vote for the UK to divorce themselves from a long-standing courtship with mainland Europe. What played out in Scotland though was starkly different, with a huge majority voting to stay in the EU across every electoral area; effectively a total wipe-out . It has to be understood that concerns over immigration aren’t as high-profile in Scotland, because a large percentage of the population reside away from the cities and large towns and have their own concerns over farming, fishing, oil and gas, and the ability to have state-subsidised travel to the remote highlands and islands. Reaching these areas of the UK is far more difficult than traversing lowland England, and is not widely viewed as of national importance.
But important it is.
This difference in geography and logistics should be no shock to anybody in a country as small as the UK, because it should be expected that everybody would know and understand that it is the responsibility of a government to look after their entire region – to benefit themselves – in a way that takes into account the concerns of various ways of life and countless local issues. The UK, however, has failed miserably to understand any citizens north of Manchester. It’s not overly unusual to find the Scots referred to as spongers, or subsidy junkies, or selfish and inward looking, and to have that opinion of your own countrymen is as unhealthy as the deep-fried Mars Bars the Scots are wrongly clichéd as feasting upon.
But ask yourself this… if you were born on a remote island hundreds of miles from land and nearly 1000 miles from your capital, how different would you be to somebody born and raised in a high-rise tower block in London, or somebody born near the beautiful sun-kissed coasts of southern England, or a resident of the previously troubled Northern Ireland, or even how different must your life be to a mainland Scot? THIS issue is what the UK government has failed to understand, and this issue and its lack of resolve and understanding is what will continue to tear the UK into its constituent parts.
You can’t on one hand use the seas and lochs of Scotland or Northern Ireland as your military’s adventure playground, and on the other hand allow internal xenophobia to tag the Scots and Northern Irish as subsidy junkies and complainers.
It’s as simple as this… if you want to hold a country together that is geologically completely different then you should as a nation be making your citizens understand why certain areas of the highlands, islands, and Northern Ireland require help. The general idea is that a nation pays for expensive roads and rail to get people in and out of remote areas (or they used to pay) and those same roads can be used to access strategic energy reserves, allow military access, allow further development of tourism, and get a better return from previously unused and unpopulated niches.
None of this has ever been said in simple terms, nothing has ever been done to prevent newspapers fostering internal xenophobia by reporting opposing stories to different regions, and now it is far too late to change the opinion that the Scots and Irish are fat, lazy, selfish, subsidy junkies.
This lack of unity, post Brexit, will most likely bring about the end of the United Kingdom and usher in an era of whisky, oil, fishing, and farming taxes heading to Edinburgh rather than a greatly diminished London.
And then I suppose the truth of the financial plight of Scotland will be discovered. My prediction? It’ll be all to Scotland’s benefit and all to England’s loss.
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