The UK is not a “nation,” despite what Theresa May says

Posted By: November 29, 2018

Distributed to Congress by Irish National Caucus 

Brian Feeney. Irish News. Belfast. Wednesday, November 28, 2018

At first sight, Theresa May’s so-called ‘letter to the nation’ pleading for support for her deal is just another typically provocative and divisive use of the terminology she always chooses to describe the UK which qualifies as a nation under no definition of the word.

However, it’s more than that. Her use of the word ‘nation’ betrays her ugly, nasty, nativist view of the place she lives in, a place now unlike her English idyll.

The UK isn’t a nation; it’s a state. The word state correctly describes the political unit that is the UK which has sovereignty over its territory and the people living there. It’s not a country either. England is a country, so is Scotland and Wales, distinct national entities in political geography. Those three are also nations, composed of people who mainly share a feeling of common national unity, identity or ethnicity, or all three.

As you see, the one that doesn’t fit is the north, an artificial construct, a political invention which is a region of the UK, but not part of Great Britain. Nor is it a nation for it meets no definition of the word, though the BBC thinks it is because the corporation is too lazy to think of a more precise definition or qualification. Loyalists think the north is a country because it’s an area given to their ancestors 97 years ago which they designated as their country, or colloquially, ‘our wee country.’

There’s another difference about the north. It’s the only part of the UK state which is entitled by law to secede from the UK when a simple majority votes to do so. Now the north has the additional attraction that the vote to secede automatically creates a parachute to float back into the EU. How long do you think it will take to sew the parachute? Five years? Ten? Or less, given that the backstop means the north remains in effect in the EU?

Not everyone knows the north’s peculiar position, especially British politicians. One egregious example is Shailish Vara who resigned as a junior minister here a fortnight ago in opposition to Theresa May’s Brexit policy. Vara said it was important that the north retained its place in Great Britain. Hah.

And there you see the nonsense of this place. A person you never heard of, resigned from a job you didn’t know he had, and he had the nerve to take decisions about a place where he had not a single vote and didn’t even know its status. Sounds a bit like the colossus of intellect that is our present proconsul [ Northern Ireland Secretary of State]

Now,  back to Theresa May,  who presides over this place [Northern Ireland] for the time being. May doesn’t like immigration. In fact, she has knocked her brains out for eight years to try to stop it. She it was who was responsible for the infamous ‘hostile environment’ policy which made the lives of people from the West Indies a misery. It was on her watch that the vans with appalling notice boards saying ‘Go home or face arrest’ toured London streets.

May, the nativist, sees England, and only England, as her country, her nation. In none of her speeches has she ever acknowledged the existence of either Scottish or Irish nationalists trapped for the present in the UK state. She conflates England, Britain and the UK interchangeably. Occasionally her true feeling blurts out as when she said in an attack on Remainers, ‘”f you believe you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere.”

Her hostility to immigrants is the main driving force and USP [abbreviation of “unique selling point”] behind her Brexit deal. She insisted on leaving the single market and customs union for that reason, and that’s the reason for the backstop. You can’t stop freedom of movement and stay in the single market. May could have kept the whole UK in the customs union and single market by any other name or subterfuge, but the price of ending free movement was to lose The North to the single market.

Obviously, given her nativism, her atavistic Englishness, her antipathy to immigration, she opted to jettison freedom of movement. Keep single market rules for the UK or keep The North? No brainer.