Will Cameron preside over the birth of 'Little England'?
David Cameron's election triumph could turn out to be the worst thing to happen to Great Britain in its long, storied history. The forces that gave him that victory are also working to tear the country apart and in no small way, cut it loose from the rest of Europe.
The amazing performance by the Scottish National Party does not bode well for the future of the north maintaining its ties to London. And Cameron's promise to hold a referendum on remaining in the EU could lead to a rupture with the continent that would prove disasterous for England's economy.
Thursday’s election may become just the first in a trilogy of rapid-fire votes that set this island adrift from Europe, divide it in half along ancient lines of national identity and ultimately leave behind a rump state of ever-diminishing value to its American allies.
“Yesterday was V-E Day, when the United Kingdom was celebrating its finest hour. Seventy years later, it could be contemplating the beginning of its end in its current form,” said David Torrance, a British political analyst and author. “The next five years will be a twin debate about two unions — the European Union and the United Kingdom.”
The questions of whether Britain stays whole and whether it remains in Europe are deeply entangled, with the outcome of one expected to heavily influence the other.
If Britain leaves Europe despite notably pro-European sentiment in Scotland, the chances of Scotland’s newly empowered nationalists leading another drive for independence would instantly rise — despite a promise that last year’s failed bid was a “once-in-a-generation” event.
That’s one reason that Europe is likely to be settled first. Cameron’s reelection fired the starting gun on what is sure to be an emotional and high-stakes debate over Britain’s future in the E.U.
Cameron promised a referendum on the matter by the end of 2017, but some are pushing for the vote to come far sooner so that uncertainty doesn’t hang over Britain’s economic and political fortunes for the next 2 1 /2 years.
Polls suggest that if the vote were held today, Britain would choose to stay in the E.U. But the energized voices for “out” are gearing up for the fight, in the belief that the country could better manage itself without meddling from Brussels.
Opponents of an exit say it could be catastrophic, leading to an exodus of jobs and a muffling of Britain’s voice both in Europe and beyond.
It's in the interest of Scotland to downplay the consequences of separation and the pro-EU crowd to highlight the potential catastrophe of a "Brexit." But the truth is, no one can guess what Great Britain would look like if those events came to pass. Who knows? The EU itself might collapse in the next year, making a British exit unnecessary and take steam out of the Scottish independence effort.
Cameron did not sign on to manage a British decline. He is not without skill and with a little luck, he'll likely keep things together through these trying times.