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.