The Press

Emotional bonds are slipping away


Views from around the world. These opinions are not necessaril­y shared by Stuff newspapers.

The United Kingdom faces a profound set of problems as it grapples with how Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic undermine its structures of government and the emotional solidariti­es and trust its union depends on. The differing responses to Brexit and Covid in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are compounded by the turbulent everyday politics of Boris Johnson’s chaotic premiershi­p.

Brexit has recentrali­sed power away from Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast as competence­s like agricultur­e and the environmen­t previously held in Brussels return to London. Scottish polling now shows a sustained and growing majority supporting independen­ce. The SNP is expected to win next May’s Scottish Parliament elections and then claim a mandate for another referendum.

The union’s emotional bonds and trust are seeping away.

Northern Ireland remains distinct as a deeply contested polity whose powershari­ng government fits awkwardly into UK structures. But there can be no denying it too is deeply affected by the wider difficulti­es facing unionism in the UK as a whole. The longer they are unresolved the more attractive a united Ireland within the EU could be for Northern Ireland’s growing numbers of floating voters.

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