We know when the UK’s exit from the EU will occur – at the end of this year. And even gloomy forecasters suggest that by Christmas 2021 there’ll probably be a vaccine for Covid-19 and we’ll be moving back into something resembling normal life. How will people be feeling then, I wonder.
Battered and bruised, probably. Covid-19 has bereaved a lot of homes. Social and economic life has taken a thrashing from the double whammy of Covid and Brexit. Weak with the effort of escaping Covid, we’ll be facing into the deeply uncertain future, manacled to Britain – or maybe I should say manacled to England and Wales.
As things stand, it’s a reasonable guess that Scotland will have had a second independence referendum by Christmas of next year. And except Brexit emerges as something very different from what most Scottish people expect, that referendum will be won by those wishing to leave the UK and rejoin the EU. If that is the route that Scotland takes, what of us?
There are those who say that the canny middle-ground in the north of Ireland, the Alliance party and timid SDLPers, will opt in any border poll to remain within the UK. They may be right. But if they do, it will be a UK that has had a substantial part of its body amputated. With Scotland safe from Tory duplicity and pipe-dreams, it’s hard to see any outcome of a border poll in Ireland that wouldn’t give the green light to those of us in the north who are tired being told we’re not really Irish, that our culture and history are laughable oddities and that Britain is and always has been our life-support machine.
A changed world will demand changed constitutional arrangements. Hasten the day.