Brexit & this Disunited Kingdom

Theresa May & Nicola Sturgeon outside Bute house, Edinburgh

Theresa May & Nicola Sturgeon outside Bute house, Edinburgh

Theresa May, the new British prime minister, voted Remain but has to deal with the chaos unleashed by Brexit. She is regarded as a ‘safe pair of hands’, so compared with some of the zealots and ego-maniacs we might have ended up with that is to be welcomed. Her first speech from the steps of Downing Street was impressive for its egalitarian tone. However she seems to be following outdated policies which are liable to lead to the fragmentation of the United Kingdom, which is one of the key outcomes she wants to avoid. One of her first acts as prime minister was to go to Edinburgh to have talks with the passionately pro-European SNP leader, Nicola Sturgeon. Europe will remain a difficult issue in UK politics for many years, or decades, to come.

Then last night the British Parliament voted by 472 to 117 to renew the Trident nuclear weapons system, at an estimated cost of £31 billion. The Tories supported renewal, Labour was split and the Scottish Nationalist firmly against. The SNP want the Faslane base on the Clyde closed. It is yet another issue where Scotland and the English dominated UK government are on divergent paths. It seems to me a lot of money to spend on a weapons system designed for a World that no longer exists, and I wonder where in England, Wales or Northern Ireland would want to house these weapons, so making themselves an obvious first target in any war.

This new cabinet seems committed to building Hinkley C nuclear power station at a cost that seems to be projected at being between £24 and £37 billion. Again, an outdated and over priced investment, given the falling costs and speed of innovation in the wind, solar, energy storage and energy transmission technologies. Meanwhile Scotland has a policy of building no new nuclear power stations.

The Scottish Parliament has voted for an outright ban on fracking, while the UK Parliament is pushing forward with this most polluting of energy sources. On social and welfare policies, health, education and just about any policy one can think of Scotland is on a divergent path from the UK government. The United Kingdom is looking increasingly disunited.

On each of these policy areas the Scottish policies seem preferable to those of the UK. Any chance of my hometown of Hereford being ruled from Scotland, or Wales come to that, either would be preferable to the current government of this still just about ‘United Kingdom’, and their portfolio of poor policies.

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