Claire Fox, a young woman from Northern Ireland and an aspiring journalist working in London, published this short opinion piece on her Tremr blog nine month ago. It charts her change of heart on the question of Scottish independence – her own Journey from No to Yes – in the aftermath of the Brexit vote. With the kind permission of the author we are reproducing it here on the Butterfly Rebellion for two reasons: Because it is a wonderful insight into what is shaping the No-to-Yes transformation here in Scotland and because we want to publish Claire before she is famous. Enjoy!
BY CLAIRE FOX
Since writing my previous article, in which I was fervently against Scotland leaving the UK, I have had a serious change of heart on the matter. Having stayed up all night while on my year abroad in Toronto in order to watch the Scottish referendum in the hope they would stay in, I was very much a part of the Better Together camp within the UK. I felt that if Scotland left, it would spell the end of the UK as we know it and would have dire consequences for Northern Ireland (if you’ve read almost any of my articles you’ll have read that’s where I’m from and like to rant about on multiple occasions).
Unlike Scotland, Northern Ireland has none of the resources they have. We’re pretty much a drain on the UK economy, depend highly on UK taxpayers and would struggle to last more than a week on our own. Furthermore, I felt that if the predominantly left-wing Scotland stayed, we would have more ammo against a conservative monopoly ruling over the UK from England. I really didn’t want Scotland to go. But something has changed for me, and I’m pretty sure it’s my devastation over the Brexit vote.
I’m an angry, frustrated and disgruntled Remain voter and nothing from the Leave campaign and the ensuing fall-out has shown me anything to persuade me otherwise. I’m scared and worried about our impending doom. I mean, impending departure from the EU. It’s made me very much feel like saying ‘f**k it, let it all burn.’ If Little Englanders want Little England standing alone, let Scotland leave. Many say Theresa May ‘wont’ let them leave’ which I think is a very dangerous idea to buy into. The more an English PM (yes she represents the entirety of the UK, but to many Scots she’s a beacon of England, and England alone) and the more she pushes authority over the region of Scotland, the more they will push back.
What would the rest of the UK look like without Scotland?
If Scotland leaves the UK, it would be earth-shattering, as it would mean a break apart of the original two kingdoms deemed ‘Great Britain,’ that joined in 1707. The ‘Act of Union’ on January 1st 1801 formally created the United Kingdom (or Great Britain and Ireland) adding Ireland to the Union of England, Scotland and Wales. What would the future of the UK look like though? Individual sovereignty seems to be a possibility. Check out Will Ranger’s article here for his view of the future of England. In his article, Will puts forward the idea of ‘England’s German Future’ which is definitely worth a read as the pressure heats up on Brexit talks and the departure of Scotland looks more likely every day.
The people of Scotland, led by Nicola Sturgeon will not be put off by Theresa May’s rhetoric that’s for sure – who stated she would not allow ‘divisive nationalists’ to undermine the UK. That there is no ‘opt out’ for Brexit. I feel like that’s waving a red rag to a bull in terms of spurring the Scottish people to action. For Scotland, there may be an opt out. Nicola Sturgeon has recently said Scotland would not be sidelined and they must be included in Brexit talks.
The more May attempts to enforce her authority over Scotland, and the more she pushes her control over Scotland, the more dire Brexit begins to look (for many of us, I acknowledge not everyone feels like this), and the less cooperation with the devolved governments and Westminster in Brexit talks, the more Scotland will want to pull away. The most recent decision by the High Court may appease Scotland for a time, as it’s stated the government must allow a vote in Parliament to determine what type of Brexit the UK will follow.
Nicola Sturgeon has said the ‘lord advocate,’ the most senior law officer in Scotland, will lodge an application to intervene in the government’s appeal of the High Court decision, which should add weight to uphold the decision. How May’s cabinet thinks they don’t need the involvement of the UK parliament is beyond belief. Whether the people voted or not, the type of Brexit is just as important as the referendum was.
What about the political situation in Northern Ireland?
With my Irish passport, I’m still able to be part of the EU which has made me incredibly happy to have it. I worry for the future of Northern Ireland. Brexit is already going to hit us harder than most – with the loss of a future £2.8 billion in funding form the EU that has been used to rebuild the under-developed Northern Ireland – we voted to stay (yes I know Brexiteers would become angered at me saying this, but it still makes a difference if an entire region voted to stay). Most Northerners (in the NI sense) know what side of their bread is buttered – despite how head of the DUP and current leader of the ‘keep/take Northern Ireland back to the 1950s’ campaign, Arlene Foster seems to think Northern Ireland voted.
I worry that, particularly in some areas, the political situation is precarious, with sectarian violence peeking through every so often in some urban places in NI. I worry that if Scotland leaves, the Republican element could become more militant as many such as Sinn Fein believe an Independent Scotland would pave the way for a Reunited Ireland. Could a successful second referendum in Scotland lead to the calling of a referendum in Northern Ireland?
I saw the UK and specifically England as a prosperous place for my future. However, I saw this future as one in a ‘United’ Kingdom that allowed me to move and work in the EU. Not a UK cut off from the EU. Myself and many of my peers, like a large proportion of young people in the UK, now aren’t seeing our future in this kind of UK. Instead, many of us are beginning to look abroad for our future prospects. Or some are trying to find out if their grandmother was Irish… Anyway.
I say more power to Nicola, the SNP and Scotland. At least they are looking out for the interests of their region (again, unlike religious fanatic version of a Tory, Arlene Foster). I wonder how racist and fascist England will become with an unelected May at the helm. Debate on this matter would be very much appreciated – we could be heading towards a break up of the UK.