What Quebecers really want is an independent Quebec within a strong and united Canada — that’s the joke, anyway. It appears that Scots are having the same problem. After Brexit, many Scots want an independent Scotland with a strong and united Europe.
While many conservatives (including yours truly) commended the Brits for voting to leave the European Union, it would be prudent to hold off playing “Rule Britannia” for the immediate future, as the Union appears to be in trouble again.
The Treaty of Union, which was agreed upon in 1707, and survived a 55-45 referendum in 2014, has re-entered discussion. Polls in Scotland show 59% of Scots favor independence from London in the aftermath of the Brexit vote. While Britain as a whole voted leave the EU, Scots voted 62-38 to remain in the EU. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that a second referendum is likely, and that circumstances are now vastly different then they were in 2014.
An independent Scotland has real consequences for not only the United Kingdom. The biggest unknown would be the future of the Trident program. The UK currently operates four Vanguard-class submarines which carry the country’s nuclear deterrent. The Vanguard submarines are based at HM Naval Base Clyde on the western coast of Scotland. An independent Scotland could leave the UK’s nuclear deterrent without a home; Scottish independence advocates have said that an independent Scotland would be nuclear free (we’d love to see the SNP explain how it plans to be anti-nuclear while looking for membership in a nuclear alliance).
It appears Northern Ireland is also experiencing similar sentiments to Scotland. Ireland was partitioned in 1920 and, after the treaty that ended the Anglo-Irish war of 1919-1921, Northern Ireland remained part of the United Kingdom. The southern part became the independent Republic of Ireland. Ireland then fell into civil war between the pro-treaty factions and anti-treaty forces.
Brexit results have caused Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness to suggest that a border poll on Irish unification was now a legitimate requirement given that 56% of people in Northern Ireland voted to remain.
Regardless of what these members of the Kingdom determine as the best course of action, the sun has not set on the United Kingdom. Britain survived the English Civil War from 1641-1652, Napoleon, the Kaiser, and the Blitz in the 1940s; it can survive without the European Union. The only question is whether or not it will do so as a fully unified Kingdom.
Alex Christy is a student at Western Washington University.