Brexit: England could become independent by ‘default’

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Brexit could unleash a scenario that ultimately results in English independence by default, the authors of a major academic report have warned.

The potential for a second referendum on Scottish independence and demographic changes in Northern Ireland could lead to the existing UK political set-up being radically altered in the coming years.

An anti-Brexit demonstrator holds European Union and England flags outside the Houses of Parliament. Picture: PA

An anti-Brexit demonstrator holds European Union and England flags outside the Houses of Parliament. Picture: PA

The conclusion was made in a paper published today by the UK in a Changing Europe think tank, to mark two years since Article 50 was triggered.

It found MPs have become considerably more rebellious over the Article 50 process, particularly since July 2018, from which time the UK Government has lost more than a third of its Brexit votes.

But the report’s authors also warned that the Brexit process posed “territorial challenges” to the UK, and work was required to better understand the UK’s “complex identities”.

“Englishness lacks institutionalised political outlets – England has no party equivalent to the national parties in Scotland and Wales,” it said.

“As a political identity, Englishness is both potentially powerful and protean – capable of being mobilised in various ways.

“Nearly three years after the referendum, work is needed to make sense of the UK’s complex identities.”

It continued: “Northern Ireland may have a Catholic-background majority as soon as 2021 – which might make Brexiters who have asked for the backstop to end by 2025 pause.

“Neither can Scottish independence be excluded. England might, then, emerge as a political nation by default, behind the backs of Anglo-British politicians.

“Even absent such dramatic developments, Brexit processes could turn Englishness into a force that further reshapes this northwest Atlantic archipelago.”