Great Britain’s Great Unraveling

Posted By: July 02, 2016

Here’s how the U.K. could fall apart post-Brexit.

 Amanda Sloa. Foreign Policy. June 30, 2016

I moved to Scotland in September 1997, a wide-eyed American graduate student. These were heady days. Newly-elected Prime Minister Tony Blair had just won referendums on devolution to Scotland and Wales; plans for a new Scottish Parliament were taking shape; and the European Union was preparing to introduce the euro. Four years later, I moved to Northern Ireland, arriving in Belfast a week before two planes crashed into the World Trade Center. I was embraced by people who were painfully familiar with the scourge of terrorism, yet bravely working toward a more peaceful future following the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. The Brexit vote has raised questions about all of these political projects, particularly the future of the United Kingdom itself.

The general consensus is that Scotland will leave the U.K. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has already announced the Scottish government’s plans to prepare legislation for a second independence referendum, citing the “significant and material change in circumstances” since the September 2014 vote, when 55 percent of voters opted to stay in the U.K. While the pros and cons of independence were debated extensively before that vote, Brexit adds a dramatic new twist. With 62 percent of those in Scotland (including majorities in all districts) having voted to remain in the EU, Sturgeon