Does Tory eurosceptics’ nationalism boost UK breakup chances?

The Financial Times (£) is alone  today among UK national papers  in spotting how the  English nationalism  of extreme Tory eurosceptics feeds Scottish separatism, in spite of all the fears for small nations’ survival in the gales of the eurozone crisis.

First, the news story

Alex Salmond, first minister and leader of the Scottish National party, accused David Cameron of blundering into apparently changing the UK’s entire relationship with the EU “without even discussing it with his own Lib Dem coalition colleagues, never mind the devolved administrations in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast”.

Margaret Curran, Labour’s shadow Scottish secretary, said the SNP leader had been silent for weeks about the growing eurozone crisis because he did not want to answer the most basic questions about his plans for Europe.

“When will the SNP government publish the legal advice on the consequences of Scotland isolating itself from the rest of the UK in terms of a reaccession process for entry to the EU?” she said.

Then the comment by Phillip Stephens

Much of the Conservative party now speaks the language of English nationalism – driven to fury by Europe and increasingly driven out by the voters from Britain’s Celtic fringes. Mr Cameron’s party has only one MP in Scotland and just a handful in Wales.

This suits no one more than Alex Salmond. As Tory MPs demand a referendum on Europe, the Scottish National party leader promises one on Scottish independence.

English nationalism feeds Scottish nationalism. The more a Tory-led government in London detaches Britain from Europe, the more easily the pro-European SNP points to a divergence of English and Scottish national interests.





Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London