At the start of the year, I wrote about the effect that Brexit was having in bringing about a centrifugal process leading to the break up of Britain. In the last few weeks, those centrifugal forces have become stronger. The Tories having shown a total disregard for the rights and interests of the people of Scotland, as indeed they have done in respect of the rights and interests of that 48% of the electorate that voted Remain, in the referendum, have added grist to the mill of the SNP in calling for another independence referendum. At the same time, Northern Ireland, where a significant majority also voted in favour of Remain, has seen the Unionists, become a minority for the first time ever, thereby bringing closer the day when the two parts of Ireland might be reunited.
The argument that Marxists have always put, and which I outlined previously, is that we are in favour of a unitary state as opposed to a federal state, and we are only in favour of a federal state as against some looser confederation, where a unitary state is not possible. The underlying principle is that we are in favour of the greatest possible unity of workers, and this unity is facilitated where all borders are removed, and where the working-class acts as a single force. But, as I also previously outlined, Marxists analyse this also within a dynamic framework, as part of a process, and not in static terms.
So, we would generally be in favour not only of Britain remaining inside the EU, but if Britain left the EU, we would generally be in favour of Scottish workers, and Northern Irish workers remaining inside the British State, as a unitary state, rather than leaving the British state so as to remain in the EU proto state. However, considered dynamically, Brexit appears to be setting Britain on a reactionary course, and is encouraging its own fragmentation, whilst the EU – providing, as I expect it will, it sees off the challenge from Le Pen, Wilders etc. - is setting out a forward looking course, and establishing the basis of further integration.
In the earlier discussion, I suggested that its possible to see a basis upon, which an independent Scotland could exist, within the EU. I also set out that Northern Ireland could separate from Britain, and operate as an independent territory within the EU, similar to Andorra, or as I also proposed Gibraltar.
But, the end of the Unionist majority in Northern Ireland, also opens another possibility still short of an immediate United Ireland. That is that instead of Scotland or Northern Ireland becoming independent from Britain, the opposite should be framed, in the way that the “reverse Greenland” solution was previously proposed for Scotland. That is, it should be England (and Wales if they choose) that should Exit Britain, at the same time that England leaves the EU. That would leave Britain outside England (and possibly Wales) still a member of the EU, thereby removing the need for them this remaining Britain to apply for EU membership.
The further advantage of this solution is that this new Britain could reunite Ireland, Scotland, and Northern Ireland in a new unitary British State, excluding England, or if necessary, to begin with on the basis of a Federal Britain, bringing together separate states in Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland. Indeed, it would leave open the possibility of such a state, bringing within its remit the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands etc.