Duel, Britannia

Now that the Scottish independence movement is picking up steam and looking like it might just win the September referendum, London and Spain are playing hardball. London says No to any currency union, and Spain (which like all other member states, must vote unanimously to approve entry) says they’ll deny Scotland entry to the EU.


But here’s Roger Cohen’s NYT op-ed:

That said, Scots must look south these days and wonder. Growing areas of England are under water, a fact Cameron has been among the last to grasp. Politicians appear to spend much of their time squabbling over how to dredge a river. Officials issue frantic edicts on “health and safety.” A barmy prince declares that “there is nothing like a jolly good disaster to get people to start doing something.” The world’s financial center is turning into the world’s aquatic center, its main attraction a ship of fools.

At the helm sits Cameron drifting across the Somerset Levels. Thames floodwaters are closing in on London; his Environment Agency is a laughing stock run by a man a member of his own Conservative party has called a “little git.”

Northern Ireland could go and Britain would remain Britain. Wales is unlikely to go because it’s been too heavily Anglo-fied. But take away Scotland and Britain as we know it ceases to exist. You end up with “The United Kingdom of England, Wales, and Northern Ireland” — de facto if not de jure.


Then again, Britain has been at war with its Britishness since the days of Tony Blair and his pursuit of “devolution.” His successors have done nothing to undo the damage done to the national identity, and Cameron has added a large dollop of incompetence on top of the unhealthy stew.

Scots looking to keep the Union whole look at the mess in London and might fairly wonder if the effort is worth antagonizing their nationalist friends and family members.


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