The collapse of the UK as a unified political entity is looking pretty much inevitable at this point. England and Wales want out of the EU, and Scotland and Northern Ireland would rather be part of the EU than the UK. Scotland has, in fact, already met with EU leadership looking for ways to establish it staying in the EU.
A second issue is that of internal migration. The EU will require freedom of movement from England if England is to continue doing business with them. And of course, there is no small matter of an independent EU Scotland creating a land border on Britain.
Nice job breaking it, guys.
What about Northern Ireland?
Poor Northern Ireland. You’re like a wallflower at a party. You almost certainly do not have the economy to go it alone — remember, a lot of EU grants to the UK went to Wales and Northern Ireland — and you’re a millstone on either Scotland (in, say, a joint independence referendum) or Ireland (in a reunification scenario). You want out of the UK and have no place to go.
Ireland and Schengen
The main reason Ireland never entered Schengen was to preserve its own open border with Northern Ireland. Keep this in mind: like Scotland, Northern Ireland sounds like it’s fixing to leave the UK. And if it isn’t, there’s no more British-Irish land border to worry about, and hence no reason for Ireland not to join Schengen.
A 51st State?
If you’re a Yank, you probably ought to learn something before you spout off. Unlike the EU, the US has no orderly secession mechanism — we fought a war over that, as you may remember — and in any event, nationalism was the main Brexit driver. Why on earth would the English go to a stricter sovereignty pool when they wanted to exert sovereignty in their own right?
David Cameron’s Legacy
He’s probably going to go down as one of Britain’s worst PMs. Somebody whose main agenda was pushing for further EU-UK integration, his entire project just suffered the fate of say a B-52 suffering a catastrophic accident in its nuclear arsenal while still in midair …
Yet at the same time, I rather suspect that the aftermath will be instructive for Europeans. Even the non-EU Western European states — Switzerland, Norway, and Iceland — are still deeply linked with it; a state trying to “go it alone” for no matter how long (and there is little doubt that the migration issue will keep stalling exit negotiations) will suffer a significant economic hit. Remember that — discounting Russia because Russia — Serbia is currently the wealthiest European state outside current EU/EFTA membership or arrangements in lieu of membership (i.e. what e.g. Andorra, Monaco, and San Marino have). And (a) Serbia is a clear notch down in terms of wealth from even EU member Croatia, and (b) Serbia — like literally everybody else in the Balkans — wants in on the EU.
As the Brexit aftermath unfolds, the true cost of England — and I cannot stress this enough: THIS IS ENGLAND’S DECISION — leaving will become increasingly apparent. And it will take the form of the English losing all but the last tiny Welsh sliver vestige of their empire, of British brain drain as major European economic activity shifts away from London for the first time since (as the Londoners themselves might say) time immemorial, of a property slump and the recession that triggers, and so on …
The mess that is Britain is only just starting. And I honestly suspect that, as the old people die off and British interests realize just how hard being out of the EU is making everything, as the Welsh realize that without the EU there is no money going to Wales, England — having suffered a huge hit in its national pride — will return to the EU.
If the UK still ran the British Isles, or most of the British Isles, it could probably get away with being insular. But really Brexit’s ultimate consequence is that England will be left running maybe a third of them — sure, the densest and most populous third — but it will no longer be an island in the political sense.
And that’s perhaps the biggest irony of all: In the foolhardy English desire to bolt, the EU’s own soft power will have essentially tethered England to Europe.