One of the pleasures of living outside the UK and, for the moment anyway, being able to visit freely the country where I pay income tax, is listening to and reading other opinions of the land where I spent my first 60 years. I am no longer a UK citizen, I gave up a dozen years ago as my way of saying to Tony Blair, “not in my name”, when he sent another collection of young men off to die for his vanity.
The phrase “to see ourselves as others see us” was written by a Scot, Robert Burns. These are not my words but I wish they were.
Is England ready for self-government? It’s a question that the English used to ask of peoples less obviously made from the right stuff than they are, such as the Indians and the Irish. But it’s time they asked it of themselves.
Brexit is essentially Exit: if the Leave side wins the referendum it will almost certainly be without securing majorities in Scotland or Northern Ireland. For all the talk of reasserting the sovereignty of the United Kingdom, the desire to leave the European Union is driven above all by the rise of English nationalism.
And the chief consequence of Brexit will be the emergence of England as a stand-alone nation. Whatever entity might eventually emerge from a tumultuous breach with the European Union will almost certainly not, in the long term, include Scotland: a second referendum on Scottish independence will be inevitable, and this time Scots would be voting to stay in the EU.
It may or may not include Wales. (A resurgence of Welsh nationalism in reaction to the rise of English nationalism seems possible.)
And its relationship to Northern Ireland will be increasingly tenuous and fraught: if nothing else the Brexit campaign has made it abundantly clear that what happens to the North scarcely merits an English afterthought. The kingdom founded by Boris I will, in time, come to be bounded by the English Channel and the River Tweed.