Lately, you have probably heard stories about Brexit, that is the process by which the UK decided to leave the European Union. This process has had some serious repercussions throughout the United Kingdom. During this time, some very old scars have been reopened and deep divisions have been revealed in the United Kingdom.
Defining A Nation
The United Kingdom is a union of three nations, all of which were once independent of each other. The process by which they were united is beyond the scope of this article. However, by 1707, the kingdoms of Scotland and England were united. They had previously been united when the Scottish House of Stuart had taken the British throne. The longtime English province of Ireland (once a confederation of kingdoms united by a high king), entered the union with England.
When the Republic of Ireland split from the UK, Northern Ireland remained as many of the people of the north are descended from British settlers. (British refers to the peoples of Isle of Britain-it does not refer to the separate island of Ireland).
A long conflict known as the Troubles were fought between the Nationalist and Unionist communities of Northern Ireland, Nationalists wanting to unite with Ireland and Unionists wanting to stay with Britain. The conflict lasted from the 1960s to 1998 with the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.
The UK leaving the EU has once more led to conflict in Northern Ireland. If the UK leaves the EU, a hard border will be made between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. From a business standpoint, this is very troubling. The North relies heavily on trade with the rest of the isle-in 2016 three point four billion pounds went from Northern Ireland to the Republic of Ireland. This is to say nothing of the people who cross the border to go to work and the villages that straddle the border. It is significant that Northern Ireland voted against leaving the EU. A group of protesters made their opinion on the matter perfectly clear by building and tearing down a mock border wall. If the UK leaves the EU, will Northern Ireland leave the UK to unite with the Republic?
The Price of Independence
Britain is a global economy. Economists predict a food shortage if Britain leaves the EU. Britain relies heavily on food imports. Leaving the EU could result in disruptions to the supply line as seventy percent of its food comes from EU imports. The National Farmers Union predicted that if Britain (presumably including Northern Ireland) were to rely on only domestic products they would run out of food within seven months. Another report shows that Britain is only sixty percent sufficient. This is probably due to Britain’s small size.
The United States or the Commonwealth could serve as suitable trading partners should such scenarios arise in post-EU Britain.
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