Could Brexit lead to war?

Trident Submarine

Monday 27th June. The FTSE has fallen again on post-Brexit uncertainty. Worry not, bankers and brokers will find a way to make money, because making money is their business. Let’s assume the financiers in the City of London find a way to ride out the economic storm caused by the UK’s decision to leave the EU, the jobs market stabilises and Britain remains a global powerhouse, what else should we be thinking of?

Well one thing that taxes my mind is something that was roundly poo-poohed in the referendum campaign, because the Leave campaign managed to make the Remain campaign afraid that its project Fear was a vote loser. That thing I remain afraid of, is the threat of war. War? In our enlightened times? Nonsense! Okay, not war, but neither side would even hint at social strife, riots, and the rise of violent nationalism. Both sides had to paint a ridiculously rosy picture of the post referendum world, or they would look stupid. The Remain camp would look stupid because if the outcome contained violence then why did they call the referendum in the first place, and the Leave camp would look stupid because they’d be asking people to vote for violence, since the status quo represented peace.

Trouble is, war is an expression of violence but only one such expression. Violence has many gross forms. Moreover, few people who find themselves living in a war zone thought they would do so the month before war broke out. If they did they’d have left. It’s always a nasty surprise. Let’s not postulate war but instead look at the type of scenario that I’m not sure Herr Boris and his chums considered.

Scottish people feel betrayed by English people, who they perceive as having lied to them about the benefits of remaining in the union. They voted overwhelmingly to stay in Europe, it was the English who voted out. Why should the Scots have to do what the English say? They don’t. So, Scotland holds an in/out referendum and the Scottish public vote to leave the union.

With Scotland out of the union a big problem arises, namely where the remainder of the United Kingdom is going to park its nuclear submarines and other sea-based weapons of war. What if the Scots say that as an independent country they’re not interested in being a nuclear power – they won’t pay for it and the warmongering English (Libya, Iraq, Pinkie Cleugh…) can park their damn submarines elsewhere. The UK can’t allow this; there is nowhere else for the submarines to go, and warships have to be built to go fighting in far flung lands. So they hold on to Rosyth and whatever else they need to hold on to (because they feel they have to) and inadvertently become an occupying force.

The last time the English were seen as ‘occupying’ another country in the union things didn’t work out too well. Never mind a tide of Scottish nationalism turning violent, what about the other Celts who rebelled against English Occupation, the Irish. Speaking of whom…

The UK is out of the EU but Ireland is in. What happens when the UK government decides it needs to control the border between Northern and Southern Ireland? The Irish will never again think the UK has the right to do this. Not even the pro-union people of Northern Ireland, who voted to remain in the EU, will think that a UK government has the right to put up roadblocks and walls along the border. The simple reason for this is that millions of Irish people think the UK is not a United Kingdom, it is just England throwing its weight around. If the UK government should attempt to control the free movement of people in Ireland I suspect the IRA will wake up and start bombing places again.

So there’s the possible rise of a Scottish Nationalist Army, the resurrection of the Irish Republican Army, and quite possibly a whole lot of rioting of unemployed, disenfranchised youth (who voted to remain and would be the main sufferers if the economic predictions of doom are true) to come. I could be wrong about all of this but I happen to think we should at least have talked about it before deciding we’d all be friends and it would all be all right in the end if we pointed a gun at our feet and pulled the trigger.


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