Is Great Britain not “Great” anymore?
In the XIX th century Britons liked to brag about their “empire on which the sun never sets.”
17 May 2016 – Voa News
However, by the mid-XX th century it eventually did. Consumed by war and staring down the barrel of a rebellion and the loud cry for independence among its overseas possessions, Britain had to renounce its colonies.
On June 23 the British referendum on European Union membership may well set in train the circumstances for what is left of the British empire, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, to dwindle eventually to its residual core — England.
Five sixths of the UK electorate is made up of English voters and if just a slim majority of the English decide next month to exit the EU it will almost certainly be against the overwhelming wishes of the Celts in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland who wish to remain in the European economic bloc.
Politicians across the political spectrum acknowledge such a result would spell trouble for the survival of the United Kingdom — that at least one of the Celtic nations would likely soon decide to break away. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair warned earlier this year in his first intervention on the EU referendum campaign that leaving the EU would trigger the break-up of the United Kingdom, arguing at the very least it would “completely change the dynamic of Scottish independence.”
Nationalist politicians north of the border, buoyed earlier this month by their third Scottish parliamentary election victory in a row, have warned that a UK exit from the EU thanks mainly to English votes will trigger yet another vote on Scottish independence, sooner or later. It would be one they’d expect to win.
In 2014 Scotland voted to remain part of the UK with just a 55 percent majority.
The Scots favor remaining in the EU in overwhelming numbers — support has skyrocketed in the run-up to the referendum, from an average 64 percent in favor of staying in the European bloc to 76 per cent, according to a poll taken last week for Scotland’s Daily Record newspaper.
Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish nationalist leader and Scotland’s First Minister, has warned that demand for a second independence referendum would be “unstoppable,” if the Scots are taken out of the EU against their will.
Pro-European sentiment runs as high in Northern Ireland, where on average three-quarters of voters also favor retaining EU membership. It is one issue that unites many Catholics and Protestants. Like Scotland, there are strong economic reasons for the pro-EU sentiment.