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An existential threat to the UK

My first reaction to the announcement that we would have a General Election in December was to see whether it was possible to arrange a long holiday somewhere as far away as possible. The University of Almaty looked a more inviting prospect than Aberdeen’s granite turning ever more grey in the Autumn rain. But none of us can duck this one. This one is important.

Most British elections, even the historically important ones, like 1979 or 1945 are about what sort of Britain we want. They might bring about great change, which later nearly everyone can see as necessary. But the elections that gave us Atlee and Thatcher were not existential. The United Kingdom was no longer threatened in 1945 and in 1979 no one thought either that we would one day be subsumed in the EU or that there was a serious danger of the United Kingdom ceasing to be. The present election is about just that. Will the United Kingdom long endure as an independent united sovereign nation state? The stakes could hardly be higher.

The direction of travel of the EU is completely clear now.  European federalism is going to either succeed or the EU will fall apart. It simply isn’t possible to have monetary union without political union.  The EU will gradually take on ever more of the characteristics of a nation state and its members will gradually be subsumed. If you want to continue on this path you Remain, if you don’t you leave now. The EU is the Liverpool Care Pathway for the dying member state. Get out now. There won’t even be that choice soon.

The EU has thrown everything it can at Britain to stop us leaving. It has been helped first by Theresa May’s dishonesty and incompetence and second by the fact that for the first time in British history the losing side didn’t accept the result of a free and fair election. United we might have been able to get a much better deal. Divided it is remarkable that Boris Johnson got as good a deal as he did get.

If we could go back to 2016 and install Boris as Prime Minister with a majority, it just might have been possible to get something much better. He wouldn’t have been the push over that was Theresa May. He wouldn’t have signed up to the EU’s sequencing of negotiations nor to the Irish Backstop and he would have creditably threatened a “no deal” Brexit and meant it. But even Boris lacks a time machine.

We are where we are. The Boris deal is not ideal. Much of Theresa May’s deal Remains. Northern Ireland is treated differently from the other parts of the UK and there will be some bureaucracy involving trade between Britain and Northern Ireland. But the whole of the UK will legally be leaving both the EU Single Market and the EU Customs Union. The UK will be able make trade deals with other countries. We will over time diverge from the EU. We will no longer be part of “ever closer union”. We will avoid the disruption of a “no deal” Brexit. We may never know now what would have happened if we had left without a deal, the damage might have been minimal, or it might have been worse than that. But better by far to avoid any disruption if possible.

But anyway “no deal” is no longer an option. It couldn’t get through the last Parliament and it probably couldn’t get through the next. It is massively to the Conservatives advantage that they are campaigning to implement the Boris deal. Moderate Remainers and most Brexiteers will vote for this. It would have been much harder to win if the Conservatives had been forced to campaign for no deal. There just aren’t enough British people who want to risk it.

The choice then is really between Boris’s deal and no Brexit. If we wake up on the morning after the election to find that the Conservatives have a majority there will definitely be Brexit. If on the other hand all the other parties have a majority of one, there will definitely not be Brexit.

Labour plan to renegotiate Brexit. What sort of deal would Labour bring back? Well given that the Labour negotiators would be Remainers, they would bring back a deal that was even closer to Remaining in the EU than Theresa May’s deal. Labour would then give us a referendum on the Labour deal versus Remain. Who would campaign for Labour’s deal? I certainly wouldn’t. In fact, if I bothered to vote at all I would choose to stay in the EU. There are advantages to being in the EU, none at all to being half in and half out. So, Remain would win in the end by giving us a choice in effect between Remain and Remain. I don’t think British democracy would ever quite recover from that. Would any of us ever accept the result of an election ever again?

Not only this. Labour has already promised to give the SNP a second independence referendum. Corbyn may pretend to change his mind on this, but he knows, the SNP knows and everyone with any sense knows that the price of a Labour Government propped up by SNP votes is a second independence referendum. Labour cannot possibly form a government on its own.

Corbyn would no doubt allow the SNP to decide who would vote and what the question would be. He would give them all the help he could and then half-heartedly campaign for Scotland to stay in the UK. The UK would still be in the EU, so there would be none of the disadvantages of Scotland being in the EU while the UK had left. Under those circumstances a second independence referendum would be a coin toss. Who would lead the Pro UK side of the argument? Would Corbyn even care if the UK broke up or would he in fact be delighted? After all he has always taken the side of Britain’s enemies.

Pro UK people in Northern Ireland would fair no better under Corbyn. He would want to reward his friends in Sinn Féin and would be delighted if there were to be a border poll which brought about his long-term goal of a united Ireland. A hard-left Labour Government would do all it could to jettison Northern Ireland and wouldn’t care one little bit for the British people living there.

So, this is really the choice. A Conservative Government would not merely make the argument for Scottish independence much harder to make by taking the UK out of the EU, it would also tell the SNP that they had no right to a second independence referendum at least for the next five years.

A Conservative Government would be committed to making sure both communities in Northern Ireland remain reasonably content.  The mistake that the DUP is making is that both “no deal” and no Brexit makes the breakup of the UK more likely. The Boris deal gives both communities in Northern Ireland some of what they want. Keeping open the border in Ireland is absolutely crucial for the long-term future of Northern Ireland in the UK and to do that a deal with the EU is necessary and unavoidable.

Labour is an existential threat to the UK. This is not a game. The existence of the UK was less threatened in 1914 and 1939 than it is now. The Conservatives need every vote possible to ensure that Boris gets a majority. Every vote on the other hand that goes to Labour, the Lib Dems the SNP or any of the others, just brings closer the Remain Alliance with Corbyn doing all he can to destroy the country he hates most in all the world. The United Kingdom.

This post was originally published by the author on his personal blog: https://www.effiedeans.com/2019/11/an-existential-threat-to-uk.html

About Effie Deans

Profile photo of Effie Deans
Effie Deans is a pro UK blogger who works at the University of Aberdeen. She spent many years living in Russia and the Soviet Union, but came home to Scotland so as to enjoy living in a multi-party democracy! When not occupied with Scottish politics she writes fiction and thinks about theology, philosophy and Russian literature.

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