Monday 23 January 2017

Whatever happens tomorrow, Europe will never be quite the same again

Published 22/06/2016 | 02:30

A campaigner against Brexit poses with the EU flag painted on her face, at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Photo: Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters
A campaigner against Brexit poses with the EU flag painted on her face, at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Photo: Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters

This EU referendum has divided Britain like no other political event in my lifetime. The campaign has been so violent, forces have been unleashed by both sides that might prove impossible to control and the very existence of the United Kingdom is now unsure. Even if 'Remain' wins, as the latest polls suggest, the victory will prove to be pyrrhic at best, because it is highly likely that a narrow victory for 'Remain' will only be secured by a strange alliance of cosmopolitan London together with Irish, Scottish and Welsh nationalists who ultimately want to break free from London's orbit.

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The defeated English nationalists, emboldened by their last few months' performances, will without doubt agitate for a separate English Parliament in the event of them losing. They will be sore and will point at non-English forces in the City-state that is London and in the regions. There could be a new constitutional settlement in the UK.

If it is a vote to 'Leave', then the Scottish Nationalists will demand another referendum, which will seek to take them out of a non-European Britain. If they win this, the entire UK, as we have known it, is under threat. The question then is what happens to Northern Ireland?

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