OPINION: The UK election results could mean the beginning of the end of the Union
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OPINION: The UK election results could mean the beginning of the end of the Union

THE RESULTS of yesterday's election in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland is reflective of a country completely divided.

In Scotland, the Scottish National Party (SNP) won an unprecedented 48 seats, gaining an additional 13 MPs, unseating 7 sitting Conservatives and 6 sitting Labour members, and securing 45% of the overall vote.

Scotland had voted to Remain in the UK's Brexit Referendum in 2017 with a huge majority, and after suffering through three years of failed negotiations it seems the country's resolve has only gotten stronger.

Party leader Nicola Sturgeon has been open and adamant with her desire for Scotland to hold a second independence referendum, and this result is a clear indication that the people of the nation share that desire.

 

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Boris Johnson on the other hand, has vowed that he will not allow a second Scottish independence referendum, but with such clear, overwhelming and undeniable evidence that this is what the people of Scotland want, it will be difficult to flat-out refuse the referendum without coming across as undemocratic.

Northern Ireland now finds itself in a similar situation.

For the first time ever, Irish nationalist and Republican parties now hold a majority in the six counties after some breathtaking losses for the DUP, including Westminster leader Nigel Dodds being ousted by Sinn Féin member John Finucane.

Sinn Féin were given 47% of the vote in Northern Ireland, with the DUP dropping to just 43%. The country's third-biggest party, Alliance, is a non-sectarian neutral party and received 9.8% of the vote, including for North Down-- the first time in history that a non-unionist MP was elected in this constituency.

As things stand, Sinn Féin and the SDLP, both nationalist parties, hold more seats than the DUP, but the DUP remains the largest party in Northern Ireland overall.

The swing in favour of nationalist parties is an indication of citizens' frustration at having been disregarded by Westminster over the past three years during the bumbling attempts to leave the European Union.

Brexit negotiations continuously threatened the return of a hard border on the island and revealed breathtaking ignorance of Northern Ireland's history and culture by the people with the future of the nation in their hands.

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The Northern Ireland Act 1998, created in order to implement The Good Friday Agreement, declares that "if at any time it appears likey [...] that a majority of those voting would express a wish that Northern Ireland should cease to be part of the United Kingom and form part of a united Ireland", a border poll on unification should be undertaken.

The Act never set out specifics of what would meet this crieria, but a majority of nationalist parties in power in Northern Ireland is a pretty clear indication that public opinion is shifting.

Northern Ireland has now been without a government for almost three years, and several newly elected members on both sides have spoken of their desire to restore power sharing at Stormont, and Ireland's Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has today urged people to focus on the restoration of power-sharing in Stormont instead of looking ahead to a unity referendum.

Although he acknowledged the "very significant results" in Northern Ireland, he said there is "no unionist majority, no nationalist majority and an ever-expanding centre ground".

 

England voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Conservative Party led by Boris Johnson, whose campaign slogan was 'Get Brexit Done', thereby illustrating that the majority of citizens in England still want the original Brexit referendum result be carried out.

In Wales, who voted in favour of leaving the European Union in the original referendum, Labour-- whose party leader Jeremy Corbyn took a neutral stance on Brexit-- retained a slim majority but suffered significant losses in former strongholds.

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With a Scottish indepdence referendum inevitable, nationalist parties in power in Northern Ireland, and public opinion in the United Kingdom far more divided than unified, it now seems to be a question of when, rather than if, that division manifests itself in a literal way.