May’s result tonight was more than a stay of execution for herself. This was a stay of execution for the British union state. Brexit, as it works itself out, has a number of grimly inevitable conclusions. It will leave the United Kingdom poorer and in a long-term downward economic decline; a weight that will be disproportionately carried by the poorest. Social tensions will be stretched to breaking point, with a sharp increase in racism and race-related hate crime.
According to Europe the departure of the UK from the EU will put a hard border between the two parts of Ireland. This will have a profound and devastating effect on the economy of the island, but more pressing than this is the uncomfortable reality that republicans and nationalists in the North will find themselves locked into the British state once again, where Britain has the monopoly on violence – the exact conditions that played a significant part in the ignition of the conflict.
The truth is that Spain has narrowly avoided an armed conflict in Catalunya, and no country has done more to provoke a war in Europe in recent decades than has Spain in Catalunya. Thanks mainly, we can be sure, to the misguided trust of the Catalan leadership in the honest brokerage of the EU and the European states this has not happened. Yet, now having learned this lesson, we cannot be certain that any similar event will end so “peacefully.”
The European Union has not, in any meaningful sense, spoken up in the defence of Catalunya. More than this, it has not spoken up in the defence of freedom and democracy – not for the Catalans and not for anyone. The watchword everywhere, even echoed by the Scottish Secretary of State, is that this is a matter for Spain and the Spanish Constitution. Once again power has been justified by the law it wrote for itself and its own preservation.
The National Party was returned to government in Scotland, with a majority support in Edinburgh for independence, on the promise that with a material change in the circumstances pertaining to the settlement of 18 September 2014 it would give Scotland another say. Since the result of the EU referendum the entire political terrain of the UK has been changed. Nothing is as it was in 2014.
The Catalans are far from powerless. With a population of 7.5 million people, half of whom at least are in favour of independence, Catalunya has the numbers to stifle Spain’s aggression. One million people on the streets of Barcelona and proportionately large numbers out in other towns and cities; ignoring Spain’s diktats, will render police or military action useless. The alternative to this is a potential standoff between elements of the Catalan police force and the Spanish Guardia Civil.
In spite of the fact that it is now well-known around the world, thanks to social media, the BBC, CNN, Euro News, and Russia Today have refused to report on Spain’s decision to send the military into Catalunya in its efforts to stop the vote going ahead. Yesterday people across Catalunya were photographing convoys of armoured vehicles belonging to the Spanish Armed Forces and the Guardia Civil and posting them online.
EU negotiators are now more convinced than ever that the talks will break down, resulting in no closing deal being made between the UK and Europe- and this is no laughing matter.