Nigel Farage claimed yesterday that the European Union is facing a ‘huge existential crisis’ but the truth is that as he spoke, it was a different union, the United Kingdom, that appeared to be at ever greater risk of a colossal collapse under the weight of Brexit, in spite of the fact that negotiations are yet to begin and Brexit itself is still at least two years off.
It’s not just the likes of Farage and his Brexiteer cohorts who are rubbing their hands in glee at the prospect of a ‘hard Brexit’, there is also a growing queue of nationalists, lining up to seize their moment to tear the United Kingdom apart. The referendum nine months ago, and the Scottish independence referendum before that, revealed a divided nation. Division and intolerance are the fuels that stoke the flames of nationalism, of sectarianism and of hatred. Whether it’s left wing, friendly and tartan-clad nationalism, or its more familiar and sinister incarnations, nationalism, with the help of Brexit, is driving a wedge deeper and deeper into our society.
Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP jumped upon Parliament’s decision to authorise the government to trigger Article 50 and begin the process of withdrawal from the EU. Her demands for a second referendum on Scottish independence have been quickly followed by Plaid Cymru and Sinn Fein demanding a referendums to decide the futures of Wales and of Northern Ireland. Meanwhile May’s government in London has outlined its plans for a massive power grab, seeking to grant government ministers unprecedented legislative powers to repeal and amend EU laws and regulations after Brexit without referring back to Parliament. We could easily despair at the apparent choices on offer, of Whitehall centralisation pushing to undermine our democracy, or nationalists seeking to tear apart the now fragile union. But the future of Britain is not down to these forces alone. We can pursue another path, a path of democratic federalism which can ensure both the protection and preservation of our distinctive local, regional and national identities and their rights to self-determination, whilst also cementing our union and building a safer and more prosperous future, putting each corner of the United Kingdom on an equal constitutional footing.
In June people voted to ‘take back control’. But so far all that has emerged is a power struggle between the likes of Theresa May, Nicola Sturgeon and Nigel Farage, leaving us hurtling headlong towards the perfect storm brewing on the horizon. Only federalism can hold this ship together and set a safe course. Only a federal Britain will put real people in real control of their own destinies.
By Robert Jones
Disclaimer: This article expresses the personal views of its author, and may not necessarily reflect the official policies or views of the Federalist Party.