England’s Difficulty; Scotland’s Opportunity

The result of Brexit referendum has revealed certain difficult truths about our nation. England is an unhappy country. The vote shows that the English are politically riven in terms of class, educational level, age, and (non-)metropolitan status. It has revealed what was for so long obvious; that London is not in, or of, England. It is an international(ist) city- state whose politics and economy and outlook are wholly different from the nation whose capital it nominally is. And Scotland is another country; they do things differently there.

One thing is clear, however: the result of the referendum has to be respected and acted upon by all our politicians. That is what living in a democracy means. So let us end this talk of a second Brexit referendum, or these calls on our MPs to refuse to implement the will of the people on the Brechtian grounds (in his poem Die Lösung) that “the people has forfeited the confidence of the government”.

Brecht’s poem concludes “ would it not be easier in that case for the government to dissolve the people and elect another?”. But it seems to me that the result of the Brexit referendum has done exactly that. It has revealed that there is not one demos, one people, within the United Kingdom. There are instead peoples, demoi. The British people has been dissolved.

The referendum has revealed radically different visions about our European future and place in the world between Scotland (and Northern Ireland) on the one hand, and England and Wales (excluding London) on the other. Respecting democracy on this basis means respecting the decision of the people of England and Wales no longer to be citizens of a member State of the European Union. Equally, however, respect for democracy means honouring the expressed wish of the people of Scotland (and Northern Ireland) to remain as full participant citizens in the supranational polity that is the EU ...

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