The last two weeks have demonstrated the disturbing reality that anti-Liberals are now in charge of both main UK political parties (having long been so here in NI), with small cabals using their “mandate” to promote in-group politics with which some of us are only too familiar.
The new PM deserves some time to put her stamp on things, but her line thus far has been alarming. Does she understand the difference between endorsing patriotism on one hand (no problem with that), and endorsing xenophobia on the other? And does she have any real notion what the UK is?
Her notion of it seems to be that the UK is merely an expansion of southern England. Yet attitudes differ markedly across England alone, and only more so once you cross Hadrian’s Wall or the Irish Sea.
The simple notion that you should have to declare how many “foreign” workers you have is unworkable in this part of the UK before you even get to the point that it is utterly abhorrent. Northern Irish people will retain the birthright to be EU citizens regardless of what happens by March 2019; and they will, alongside the Scots, also have the right to secede from the UK if they do not much like where it is going economically or culturally.
What was before 23 June a multicultural Union in which people could even be outright Irish or exclusively Scottish without having to worry too much about it turning into the Greater England its opponents always accused it of being. But no one in Scotland or Northern Ireland (or probably even the north of England or Wales) wants to live in a Greater England with a UKIP underlay. What is more, we do not have to.
The PM’s first words on the steps of Number 10 were about how keen she was to keep the Union “family” together. But as Sir Humphrey warned: “Things don’t happen just because Prime Ministers are keen on them. Chamberlain was keen on peace!”