Interesting to see how the future of the Union is gradually being linked to the future of the European Union and the UK’s relations with it. In a farewell interview in the Daily Telegraph, the retiring Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell places it high among the “enormous challenges.”
Over the next few years, there will be enormous challenges, such as whether to keep our kingdom united and how to make the EU operate in the best interests of its citizens.
While the foreign affairs public intellectual Tim Garton Ash writing in the Guardian, laces it in his “nightmares”.
My nightmare – which I also think quite probable – is that the Westminster closed circuit of parliament, government and press will continue to muddle this country (or what’s left of it when Scotland has left) through to the margins of Europe. When the English discover, in five to 10 years’ time, that … when the country’s self-marginalisation is damaging its standing in Washington, its capacity to project its interests in China, India and Brazil, and the City of London; then it – now just England and possibly Wales – will come creeping back, saying “Please let us in”, as Britain did in the 1960s. And then the French, Croats and Scots will decide whether to say oui or non.
(As so often, Northern Ireland doesn’t rate a mention).
Why is it that, as the English political class start to puzzle over the phenomenon of the identity politics which so obsess the wee Celts, they are less interested in the future of the British Union than the European one?
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