"The UK is on the edge of economic and constitutional disaster and a Hard Brexit could push us over,” wrote the Scottish Herald in its editorial on Monday.
Indeed, it is very hard to see how the United Kingdom will stay together in light of the arrogant decision announced last weekend that British Prime Minister Theresa May will go it alone on Brexit negotiations and refuse to include leaders from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
The financial markets gave their answer to May’s full-throated embrace of what is called “Hard” Brexit – i.e., refusing a compromise deal with the European Union – when the British pound plummeted on the Hard Brexit news.
The pointed snub impacted in Scotland too. “PM going out of her way to say Scotland's voice and interests don’t matter,” was the tweeted response of Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister and, by near unanimous verdict, the best politician in Britain or Ireland.
She continued, “Strange approach from someone who wants to keep U.K. together.”
The reality is, of course, that May has handed Scotland to the Nationalist Party and guaranteed a new independence vote with this arrogant declaration. First the Scottish Parliament will likely pass a bill vetoing passage of a pro-Brexit law through the House of Commons as they say they are entitled to do, sparking a constitutional war.
Sturgeon will likely then pick her time and decide when to hold the independence referendum, likely in fall 2017. There seems little doubt the Scots will opt for independence.
Scotland is correct in believing that the single European market, which May wants to leave, is vital for Scottish interests and essential for its industry.
Yet May has made it clear she cares not about that reality, but as the English overlord will pat the turbulent provinces on the head and carry on regardless. May has fired the starting gun on imposing Brexit, so there is very little option for Sturgeon but to do the same for Scottish independence.
That in turn will have massive repercussions in Northern Ireland. Suffice to say that unionists consider the Scottish to be their blood brothers and sisters as their ancestors mostly came from there during the Ulster plantation. The English were always secondary in their affection.
If there is no longer a United Kingdom, as there has been since 1707, how can unionists continue to insist on their allegiance to an entity that will cease to exist?
Brexit also causes major problems for nationalists in Northern Ireland. They voted overwhelmingly to stay in the EU, and Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness had drawn a line in the sand.
“Our position remains the same. We refuse to be dragged from Europe. We are not going to give in on the issue,” McGuinness said.
“We are part of a class action in courts to try to prevent being taken out of Europe. We want to stay in Europe. We are still trying to maintain that position.”
Meanwhile, Irish Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan says there can be no guarantee that the EU will not insist on border and custom posts on the border areas between Ireland north and south, a deep psychological blow to the peace process.
While his government and the British can argue over this, the reality is that the decision regarding Ireland and Northern Ireland will be made in Brussels.
Brexit is turning out to be a disaster for everyone, but the opportunity for Ireland and Scotland to forge new links, a Celtic independent union, will surely arise.
We live in interesting times.