Scottish Independence: The UK Disintegration a Probable Outcome

A surge of nationalism among groups of people in the nations of the UK has been leading to the UK disintegration after a centuries-long union. The Scottish National Party (SNP) has promised to hold another independence referendum. In Northern Ireland, unrest in response to new Brexit trade rules has broken out. In Wales, there have been demands for more devolved power. So if Scotland separates itself from Britain, it could probably pave the way for the UK disintegration in the coming decades.

The United Kingdom, and the long-lasting union between the four nations, seems to be more and more on the verge of collapse. The Scottish National Party (SNP) has been demanding independence for a decade now. The Brexit referendum, and all the difficulties the EU withdrawal deal brought into the life of people across the UK, have increased Scottish desire for independence and bolstered the possibility of UK disintegration. After the recent parliamentary elections in Scotland and announcement by the Scottish National Party to hold a second independence referendum, the unity of Britain is further undermined, fanning the flames of disintegration. But it is not Scotland alone which is demanding separation from the UK; there have been nationalist views among some groups in Northern Ireland and Wales as well. Recently, Northern Ireland underwent much hardship by the new rules and obstacles for the import of goods coming from mainland Britain; disruptions and shortages occurred, which ignited a series of clashes between those for and against the union.

Pro-independence Campaigns in Wales

Talking about the UK disintegration, the history of the United Kingdom should be reviewed. The United Kingdom has not always been a glorious, happy place, and tensions existed between England and the other three countries until England brough them all together under the banner of Britain. Wales seems more involved with England politically, but there are some nationalists in the country who established a non-political group to promote an independent Wales. The pro-independence, non-political group in Wales called Yes Cymru, established in 2014, has demanded for Wales to be independent so the country can run its own affairs, like many other countries around the world. On the other hand, about 60% of Welsh people want London to give Cardiff more devolved powers, including the right to taxation control and more powers to the assembly. This can add to the probability of disintegration, although independence has not been raised in Wales as much as Scotland.

UK Disintegration Intensified by Brexit Rules

The majority of Northern Ireland voted no to Brexit in 2014 and people in this country underwent much suffering after the EU withdrawal took effect, reinforcing the chances of a UK disintegration. The Act of Union 1800 united Great Britain and Ireland under the name United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. In 1922, after several years of fighting and tensions, the union officially ended. The northern province of Ulster with six counties remained in the UK. But tensions have not disappeared and, in the 1960s and 1990s, Northern Ireland suffered from the troubles caused by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) fighting to reunite Ireland. Over recent years, the Brexit agreement has politically divided Northern Ireland from the EU, but it is economically very much united with it. Different rules for Northern Ireland after Brexit can be a cause for the disintegration of the UK in future decades.


Northern Ireland Dissatisfied with Westminster Handling of Brexit

There is a 500-kilometre border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic with no border posts, rules, or tariffs, to block trade between the two countries. But trade between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain must take place with numerous checks and many rules must be followed due to EU standards for fresh products; this could ignite separatist movements and lead to disintegration. The border paperwork and waiting time culminate in empty supermarket shelves in Northern Ireland time and again. The Northern Ireland Protocol for Brexit has created an Irish Sea border, or hard border, between the country and the rest of the UK, angering Irish Unionists. Irish Catholics, who want a united Ireland, clashed with Unionists during the recent riots. Unionists have complained that they are being treated differently from the rest of the UK and ignored by Westminster. Brexit has had impact on a number of Northern Irish citizens who say they would like to be part of Ireland, which may result in the UK disintegration in the near future.


Scottish Will for Independence, Initiator of UK Disintegration

Scotland’s independence is the most discussed case in the whole Britain that can initiate the UK disintegration over the coming years. Scottish independence has been emphasised since the SNP gained more power, although the public once said no to Scottish independence in a referendum in 2014. After the 2016 Brexit referendum, the majority of Scotts voted no to the EU withdrawal, so the Scottish government has repeated its will for holding another independence referendum and rejoining the bloc. The matter of Brexit is not limited to the referendum result; it has also created other difficulties in Scottish lives. Halting much of Scottish seafood exports once Brexit was implemented was just the tip of the iceberg, with fears of damage to the essential food and drink supplies of the country. After Brexit, Scottish people have encountered EU border obstacles, such as long-drawn paperwork, the necessity to prove where their products come from, and worst of all, tariffs faced in some cases by businesses and producers.


UK Response to Scottish Independence, a Double-Edged Sword

The SNP believes that Scotland will have a greater market in the EU and enjoy an economic boost within a larger economy in the bloc as opposed to remaining in the UK. London has been opposing another referendum in Scotland for fear of a UK disintegration which might follow. The SNP secured 64 seats in the Scottish Parliament in the recent elections, one seat short of a majority. However, Nicola Sturgeon, SNP leader and first minister, has reiterated her plan for a second referendum on Scottish independence and rejoining the EU. She stated that a referendum is not just an SNP demand, but a commitment to the people by many MSPs. Sturgeon has told Prime Minister Boris Johnson that a second independence referendum is a question of when, not a question of if. Westminster’s response to Scotland’s demand can be a double-edged sword, because holding another independence referendum will most probably result in Scottish separation and the UK disintegration; blocking a referendum may cast doubt on UK democracy and pave the way to disintegration.


Less than 100 years ago, the United Kingdom ruled over many countries around the world, from west to east; it ruled Canada, Australia, India and many more countries; but today, a UK disintegration and break-up among the four nations can be a possible outcome of increasing nationalism among the people. In recent months, the dangers of such a disintegration has grown, because the outcome of Brexit rules has hit people and Westminster has not tried hard enough to resolve the issues. Scotland overwhelmingly voted no to the EU withdrawal in the 2016 referendum. Now that the nationalists have won the parliamentary elections, its leaders are trying hard for a second independence referendum to rejoin the EU.  On the other hand, new Brexit bureaucracies have increased political strains on Northern Ireland. While London had promised that there would be no obstacles to trade between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, disruptions still hit people. This can intensify calls for an Irish union and result in the UK disintegration. Some Welsh nationalist campaigns have also demanded independence from Westminster, or more devolved powers, adding to the dangers of the UK disintegration.

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