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Kevin R James: Only one way out of our constitutional tangle. England gets to vote for liberty by quitting the UK and the EU


In light of the Scottish Referendum we now know that while Ms S has irreconcilable differences with Mr E, she has chosen to remain in a loveless relationship because she really fancies the flat they own together. Mr E must face the reality that the mystic chords of union have no place in Ms S’s heart while at the same time becoming increasingly vexed over the rules and regulations the landlord (Mr EU) imposes on the very flat that so attracts her. Mr E dreams of constructing a new home on land with a freehold, but Ms S will make moving impossible. It would seem that Ms S, Mr E, and Mr. EU are doomed to spend eternity in the hell of No Exit.

But there is a solution: England (joined by Northern Ireland and Wales if they so choose) leaves the UK to form a new state while Scotland as the UK (SUK) inherits the UK’s EU membership. If England leaves the UK, she automatically leaves the EU. SUK in the EU will solve her currency and central bank problem by joining the euro, and this EU/euro combination will provide SUK with the economic security that she felt compelled to stick with the UK to obtain (whether the Scots then succeed like Denmark or implode like Portugal will be up to them).

The UN would need to recognize Scotland as SUK and England as a new state to make this work, but this can be done. The deal would be: the UN does so in exchange for the UK surrendering its Security Council seat (which is the right thing to do anyway). Given UN recognition, SUK would naturally continue the UK’s EU membership. In theory the EU could insist on throwing SUK out (though there is no treaty provision that would allow this), but it is inconceivable that the EU would act in this way to punish Scotland for England’s choice to leave. England would obviously be able to join NATO and would inherit the UK’s strong bilateral links with its international allies and partners, etc.

The England/SUK split is a real option, but is it a desirable one?

Let us first consider this option from the perspective of Scotland. Fully 45 per cent of the Scots voted to leave the Union without being able to enter the EU despite the inevitable adverse economic consequences of doing so, and a further 55 per cent voted to remain in the Union primarily because independence carried too much economic risk. The Union as an idea rooted in the history, culture and traditions that England and Scotland share is dead. This being the case, it is demeaning to both Scotland and England to be stuck in what is now fundamentally a mercenary relationship. Both sides therefore have a moral obligation to bring about a separation that works for both parties. A SUK/ England split will definitely do that for Scotland.

Now let us examine this option from the English perspective. The facts are these: i) England will never leave the EU if she must drag Scotland along with her (Reuters reports that there is a 2 in 3 chance that England voting alone will choose to leave the EU, while the probability of the UK as a whole voting to leave is only 1 in 5); ii) The idea of “English votes for English laws” is a snare and a delusion as there is no feasible way to bring it about given the inextricably tangled connections between overall UK public finances and what could in theory be devolved English responsibilities; and iii) England can prosper as an independent country outside of the EU.

If England remains in the UK, then the foreign nation of Scotland and the foreign suzerain of the EU will continue to exercise considerable influence over her government. As a result, the four outside columns of statist and soft(ish) totalitarians that shape EU political culture will combine with the fifth column of statist and soft(ish) totalitarians that shape Scottish political culture to gradually dissolve the English attachment to liberty and independence that has been at the core of English culture from time immemorial. The only way that England can go forward while remaining true to her culture, her history, and her traditions is to leave the EU and Scotland behind.

It would be a bold choice to venture forth as a new nation, and maybe the people of England would rather give earth and water to Brussels instead. But it is time that they were asked.

The question the Tories put to the people of England in 2017 must be, can only be:

Should England be a free and independent country?

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Kevin R. James
Kevin R. James
Kevin R. James is a Research Fellow at Systemic Risk Centre, London School of Economics.

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