europe, society, UK Politics, World Politics

The EU has to be harsh with Britain if it is to survive

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Two-and-a-half months on from June’s shock-to-the-system Brexit vote, the future of Britain’s international relations looks increasingly murky. As Britain has taken the plunge in naming itself the first nation to withdraw from the European Union, those in Brussels are sure to be feeling the pressure. The Netherlands, Austria and Denmark are fast lining up their Brexit sequels, nations which, if withdrawn, could hugely question the existence and longevity of the EU.

With huge levels of disregard for the political class, European citizens’ guilty pleasure love affairs with the tidal wave of populism is out to damage the European Union. As global issues with refugees and the economy continue to draw on, and as populists turn to outspoken and sometimes rather bigoted politics, the European Union is now seen as something of a burden rather than a beneficial pool of traders and individuals with which to co-operate on the most grave of common problems.

Yesterday, Brexit captain Boris Johnson declared Vote Leave’s £350m EU savings promise simply impractical. Today, Brexit minister David Davis signalled that turbulent negotiations could result in WTO trading tariffs for Britain. Recent reports have also suggested that British wages are shrinking, that the economy is lagging, and that prices are plummeting. Theresa May has for weeks proclaimed that “Brexit means Brexit”, but exactly how her government plans to implement the British people’s decision is yet to be seen.

The dire facet of Britain’s vote to leave the EU is that most of the answers are yet to come. The UK government’s discussions with the European Union’s officials are likely to be rocky. The ball should be in the EU’s court, however. In the weeks running up to the June referendum, figures in Brussels were adamant that Britain would have to play by the rules. Article 50 would be implemented immediately, and Britain would not be able to question the EU’s agenda. Fearing a mass exodus from the EU could hugely damage the stability of the global economy and its political sphere.

It seems that this has instead pushed the EU to be softer towards more Eurosceptic states, hoping that granting hostile states all of their wishes will keep them quiet. But this approach is mindless. It will surely only boost Euroscepticism, further fracture the already fragile European Union, and truly extinguish any re-ignitable coals. The European Union acceptance of such paralysing disregard for itself is vacuous, and will make the entire continent brittle.

Brexit just cannot be dealt with such laxity, and the EU cannot allow itself to be walked over by arrogant populists. But it seems that European leaders have lost confidence, prepared to watch the EU crumble. British Prime Minister Theresa May several weeks ago travelled to Germany in order to speak with Chancellor Angela Merkel regarding Britain’s conditions for EU abandonment. After weeks of stubbornness from EU states, she did in fact return with success. May had managed to convince the formidable EU ‘leader’ that Britain would need more time before kick-starting the leave process, and that talks would not commence in 2016. Talks of a similar nature held with French President Francois Hollande resulted in a more relaxed approach towards the need for Dover-Calais border checks, and that free movement would suddenly be up for discussion.

The EU’s decision to warm to the requests of Brexit Britain are pig-headed, however, and are nothing short of political suicide. Allowing member states to slide out of what could still be a successful union – albeit after considerable reform – will destroy the chances of dealing with global problems easily. Our fingers will grow green with the rusty Euro, and our national outlooks will be increasingly confined.

Most importantly, pandering to the finger clicking of Britain will degrade the EU and any chances of future reform. If EU leaders continue to allow the UK’s government to cherry-pick its way through Brexit, more European nations will leave the seemingly age-old EU. Reform can only be done through being harsh with Britain, thus preventing further votes to leave, and allowing existing member states to piece together a more coherent and functional EU.

Britain has always negotiated its way through EU relations, the kind of picky politics the EU ought to thwart. French President Mitterrand was, in the earlier days, sceptical of the UK’s membership as a decoy for American interests. It is surely no secret that, with just as energised Atlanticism over recent years, Britain still does not act in this way. Britain’s strong disdain for the Eurozone system, its naughty school boy-like rebellions against the rulings of the European Court of Justice, and its excruciatingly particular agreements regarding border controls have shown that Britain has modified the politics of the EU, just to get the economic benefits. Britain regularly shuns the political protocol of the EU, seen as a burden on its individualist agenda. The very fact that British financiers pleaded for votes to remain shows how much European co-operation is at the fore of British relations with the EU.

So if Britain has succeeded in constantly questioning and editing the European Union’s agenda in Britain over recent years, what is there to say that it won’t this time? For Theresa May’s government has already started. It is precisely this approach that the EU must beware. Britain’s keenness to shift Brexit in its favour, to try and argue its way back in, to try and secure the economic privileges without the political overheads is something incredibly destructive. Unless the European Union clamps down on the picking and choosing of states such as Britain, enforcing true commitment to the European cause, it will have to watch itself die.

Currently, the EU can be easily pushed over. Other nations, just like the UK has done, will question the status quo and leave what could still be a successful union. A union like that of the EU should be a patchwork of states which share common values and goals, and if every nation requests a bespoke and considerably tenuous relationship, then the EU will have little chance of surviving. Perhaps Theresa May is planning a grand post-Brexit European reform which will one-up her predecessor, David Cameron, and transform the EU back into the pre-1998 economic union, but adding in the other components most helpful to Britain. Whilst proclaiming support for the pro-EU campaign, maybe her motive is simply one of self interest. Such a master plan would almost certainly cement her career’s foundations and boost her popularity within Britain. Perhaps in no more than a year’s time, states like The Netherlands, Austria, and Denmark will be doing the same, and the current form of the EU will be a thing of the past.

Watching President Hollande and Chancellor Merkel benignly allow the UK to call the shots over Brexit makes for painful watching. Those at the helm of the EU can now either be firm with the UK, pressing on with reform and stamping out Euroscepticism, or let states like the UK off with calling the shots and watching the next version of Brexit kill the EU once and for all.

The EU now has the chance to repair itself, arming itself against the next artillery fire from the new populists. The way forward is through pushing the UK out if it insists on questioning the EU’s already determined framework. Reform must then be on the table, and fast. If the EU is to survive, and have any chance of remaining an authoritative and reputable force for political and economic decision making, it must restore order and assert its authority.

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europe, human rights, society, World Politics

The refugee crisis has proven that we are not global citizens

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In times of late, issues regarding the safety and protection of those at the centre of Middle Eastern conflict have appeared atop the international political agenda more and more. The discussions on such subjects have been far from pleasant. With a worsening refugee crisis, Syrian and Iraqi cities and towns have crumbled at the hands of so-called Islamic State extremists. A fierce sky raging with Western airstrikes, and an appalling disregard for migrants simply in search of better days, have come to define a new era a global politics. It is clear that our governments are leaving fellow global citizens behind.

Western nations are trudging on in their anti-Islamic State crusades, a long spate of devastating warfare. Such sickening expeditions have often delivered unsettling scenes of bewildered young people, trapped in a world of detritus and despair. Yesterday, the disturbing footage of five-year-old Omran Daqneesh absorbed newswires and social media feeds. Pictures showed the desperate boy being tugged from a mound of rubble, carried to an ambulance, plonked down in a daze, and rubbing his dusty, bloody forehead, astonished by reality.

His story is certainly not unique. The UN estimates that children make up 41% of refugees, young people demoralised and displaced by the disorder of a new era of war. Others, young and old, are sure to have experienced similar terrors. Over 250,000 citizens have died as a result of coalition-Islamic State Warfare in recent months, and the number continues to rise. Many more are sure to have sustained unthinkable injuries. Possibly worse is that, last month, the Guardian reported that as many as 73 civilians were killed in just one Syrian village by a US airstrike, 35 of whom children.

Those living their lives in the middle of warzones must now deem this type of trauma as something normal. The very fact that they have remained alive in the midst of such chaos is something of a great achievement. The upsetting reports of Omran Daqneesh have doubtless raged many in the Western world. There is only so much that the citizens of developed nations can do, however. Their raising of awareness may tug heartstrings, but our leaders seem to be in a state of denial. How can such painful airstrikes, and the sight of perishing humans diminish the complacency of Islamic State guerrillas, whilst killing and hurting the most innocent people at the heart of the conflict – Syrians and Iraqis themselves?

The answer is that it does not. This approach sacrifices many for a long-term goal, currently far from being reached. Of course, extremism and Middle Eastern terrorism must be diminished – and it must be done fast. It is often this argument that has served to justify the mass airstrikes and divisive domestic policies which have taken states such as Syria and countries of the EU, respectively, by storm.

But as our nations continue to barricade themselves against the tempestuous tidal wave that is terrorism, both at home and abroad, we have become lax and afraid in rescuing those at the heart of global conflict –  in some ways, we are maybe becoming ignorant to it. Our responses to the new global political crises are defining our place in the world. We have closed ourselves off to the tribulations of many fellow human beings. Rhetoric from hard-right populists has served to inject cultural fear into the international community, fuel an epidemic of xenophobia, and build back up the bricks of national borders.

In such attempts to punish extremism, an of those aimed at thwarting the callous programme of the so-called Islamic State, our governments have forgotten about our fellow global citizens. This, in essence, means that we are not global citizens either.

Developed nations have become consumed in a decade of selfishness, with a lack of concern for deaths within warzones, and with disregard for the traumatised Middle Eastern civilians who are seemingly disposed into camps such as “The Jungle” in Calais – some of whom as a result of Western involvements.

The West has stood back for long enough, with too many nations continually turning their backs on the mass exodus of refugees flowing from war-torn nations. Many of those making their way to the European Continent come from no extremist background at all, merely seeking to evade the bombs and broken buildings. Germany has been one of the most willing recipients of Middle Eastern refugees, with over 1.3m entering the country. Meanwhile, nations like Britain have accepted only around 9,000 refugees today. Spain has taken in 8,000, and France has absorbed 11,000.

The resistance and half-hearted responses of so many Western nations is very disheartening. Last week’s Nauru files, detailing horrific child abuse towards detained Australian asylum seekers, has shown a deep disregard for fellow global citizens, too. With such lacklustre for solving the problems of refugees displaced by the chaos of extremism, the West will become similarly troubled. Failing to fully involve ourselves in a broad taskforce of UN nations committed to clearing up the side-effects of Islamic State conflict will only create larger social and political problems in the long run. Ignoring those who have been stranded as a result of the Islamic State’s agenda will only top up the fuel tank of their campaign, and threats to the stability of domestic politics will only become more regular. Showing that the West can adapt to the problematic Islamic State regime, and treating the moral high ground, is the true way towards the defeat of such barbarism.

Some reassuring news is, however, coming to light. Britain is part of a team of global nations providing material aid to Syrians – to the amount of $1.1bn, in fact. The USA, Israel and others have been keen to contribute, too. Hopefully, a few more refugees will be welcomed soon. News came today in the Guardian of MP Stella Creasy’s parliamentary amendment attempts, which could see thousands of Calais refugees making their way to Britain if successful. Lords peer Alf Dubs has already managed to force the government to bringing as many as 3,000 more child refugees to Britain.

There is still work to do, however. The West must make sure that it continues these efforts, and that it builds upon them. The UN reported in February 2016 that 13.5m people are in grave need of humanitarian support, and that 11.4m have been displaced the Syrian schism. These people will not vanish. Recent attacks have likely pushed up these totals much higher. The so-called Islamic State’s bloodshed has been ramped up in recent weeks, as the siege of key strongholds like Aleppo and Raqqa builds more intense every day.

The more developed Western nations of Europe, North America, and Oceania have a moral duty to respond to the challenges of extremism with boosted humanitarian support, and open borders. Maintaining our moral strength, and resisting the taunts of extremists aimed at breaking down the integrity and principles of our societies, is key to defeating groups such as the so-called Islamic State. Avidly tuning in to populists and their rhetoric, and implementing divisive, barring policy, will only draw our societies closer apart.

But the main problem is that there is no global agenda and that the atmosphere of co-operation is dangerously thin. Western nations now see themselves as separate entities. We are not Europeans, or Westerners. We are British, French, German, American and Australian. The European Union has broken down, and the West is intent on rubbing its hands of common global issues like those of refugees, off-shore corruption, or even climate change. We are no longer Earthlings.

How will we be able to come together in the future, ready to fight our corners against extremists? We must confront the problems facing the children of the future along with the their demoralised families, with a matter of urgency. If we do not, our places as global citizens will remain in question.

This entire mess of extremism, hatred, and halted migration currently ravaging our world questions each of us directly, in fact. Are we really global citizens? Global citizens aren’t bystanders who watch on whilst fellow human beings perish, whilst children are deprived of futures and human rights, and whilst extremists take over the political landscape. The only way of solving common issues is via common involvement and common progress. If the refugee crisis has taught us anything, it is that unity is the only way forward.

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europe, society, UK Politics

Brexit voters rejected the Establishment, and they do have a point

German Chancellor Angela Merkel Visits The UK

When announcing the European Union referendum, David Cameron must have been feeling quite smug. The proposed vote would serve one purpose – to effortlessly eradicate UKIP and smother the future prospects of the British hard right. He won’t be feeling this way now, however, having seen the damage that June’s leave vote has done to both his party, and to the national and international political landscapes. The European referendum has completely backfired for the now former Prime Minister. The EU debate was not solely one of questioning the UK’s place in the EU. It questioned the entire British political programme.

Cameron’s successor, the formidable Theresa May, now has serious issues to sort out if she wishes to sparkle as British premier. Her priorities are now becoming obvious, as she is the one who must successfully wipe away Cameron’s mess. The new British Prime Minister is adamant that Brexit will be a triumph, re-energising the nation’s trade links, bolstering UK diplomacy, and ensuring that Britain’s place in the world remains one which is robust.

How easy these tasks end up being remains to be seen. With increased hostility not only from many European nations, but also coming from spectating nations like China and the USA, Britain’s foreign policy rejuvenation will require herculean efforts from Mrs May and from the rest of her frontbench. Rapprochement in the wake of such a dramatic withdrawal from the EU, and indeed the global political sphere, will take white hot intelligence and wise, tactical gameplay.

Many of those who cast their votes in favour of the Leave campaign truly believed in avoiding the bureaucracy of the EU, and in returning to ultimately British sovereignty. It is clear, however, that many wholly slammed the British Establishment, using the EU vote as a harsh retort towards the seemingly out-of-touch political class.

Areas such as Boston in Lincolnshire, and Great Yarmouth in East Anglia contained the highest proportions of Brexit voters, and both of common features. They are communities each with low levels of attainment, measly ratings for the quality of life lived by their people, and sky high levels of deprivation.

The most Eurosceptic areas of Britain are undoubtedly problem areas for May, and it is for these reasons. Eradicating such anti-establishment feeling is sure to prove an even harder task for her government, but must be dealt with. What primarily swayed the EU referendum to a narrow victory for Vote Leave was that they capitalised on those who have grown tired with the present Establishment. The fact that so many British people feel disenchanted by the current political agenda in Britain is gravely worrying, and stability for May and her colleagues can only come through restoring confidence in her premiership.

Leaving the EU may be a major blow to the UK economy, but the view of many unhappy voters – that the Establishment is crippled and distant at the hands of elites – means more worrying prospects for current and future UK leaders. Immediately after assuming office as the new Prime Minister, May pledged to create an economy which works for all, and to govern alongside of ordinary British people, instead of staring down from her throne.

This approach is vital, and May must stick to her word. Unity, inclusion, and a method of government which has the interests of the majority at the core are the most fundamental components for successful leadership. If May governs with these principles at the top of her agenda, she will not only be a successful politician, but also vitally restore confidence in the Establishment, stamping out ‘anti’ forces.

A fragile economy, a closed-off housing market, the gremlins of globalisation, and a lack of opportunity each fuelled the paralysing punch to those in political control on June 23rd. Housing has grown more unaffordable in recent months and years, and first-time buyers are finding it increasingly difficult to place deposits. In June, house prices rose by 8.7%. The costs of living grow even higher each week, whilst the dreams of social mobility float further away than ever before. A July report from The Prince’s Trust concluded that inequality is now determined from where and to whom a person is born. Brexit has seen the value of currency fall to unprecedented levels, too, inflation rates skyrocket, and growth forecasts to be considerably scaled back.

Theresa May’s nod to grammar schools this week, rolling out new plans for their revival, will do no better in remedying the pain felt by the most politically excluded areas. This will do nothing to cool down the tempers of those who took part in the Brexit protests. As many as three quarters of judges, and half of journalists were privately educated, and many more came from grammar school backgrounds. Refusing to boost educational equality within the state system is sure to only accentuate city-village, north-south, and rich-poor divides. Nursing the societal divides here will only aid the next rampage on the UK Establishment, as it gravitates further away from the centre ground.

Labourers and minimum wage workers are faring no better. Fast food delivery service Deliveroo has been, in recent days, the latest company embroiled in a scandal of low pay and disregard for its couriers. Strikes under the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union have increased in recent weeks, with inflation rising and rates of low pay for workers. With services suffering major cutbacks, it is clear that the status quo does not work for all. Investment is needed in the increasingly motionless communities of hard done-by Britain. Communities which had their industries shut down in the 80s, have been left behind. The areas which have taken the brunt of globalisation are now those which our government ought to be rejuvenating. Socioeconomic stagnation is rife across the ex-industrial parts of Britain, and May ought to show that she is on their side.

Until our economy works for all, until affordable housing is plenteous, until we see an outpouring of educational opportunities, until social mobility becomes possible again, until investment in forgotten communities restarts, and until services, their workers, and businesses receive support, anti-establishment sentiment will to prevail.

The Vote Leave campaign, once believed to be fundamentally centred on the ideas of Euroscepticism and sovereignty, appeared to lose these once defining characteristics as the EU debate drew on. The media, and many of those who voted for Brexit, capitalised on the problematic and out-of-touch Establishment which has left much of Britain behind. Those campaigning for Brexit had no real structure to their campaigning, were heavy advocates of scaremongering tactics, and forgot the pretty crucial aspect of an action plan in the event of a Brexit vote.

But the most worrying, and somewhat impressive, part of their campaigning was that this approach succeeded. The Brexiteers actually generated a victory on June 24th, even whilst lacking the sustenance of most political campaigns. With racism, limited facts, and no strict game-plan, Boris and Gove came out on top. Surely this should be a grave warning to Theresa May. The, in some cases, effortless success of Vote Leave speaks loud volumes about the seriousness of anti-establishment feeling. Brexit voters favoured Vote Leave not because they had a plan, but simply because they stood up for an alternative to the status quo of globalisation and closed-off politics.

Prime Minister Theresa May now has to become that alternative. Failing to do so will mean facing a premiership of instability, and stoking the red hot coals of anti-establishment sentiment. Mrs May has to have meant what she said on the steps of Number 10 upon succeeding David Cameron. Only time will reveal any commitment to that vision. Her words of a more equal society and a government on the side of the people alone should be the principles with which she officiates as Prime Minister, and those with which she cements the Conservative party.

Brexit has shown how much success the anti-establishment agenda has had in the past year, and how much support it continues to suck up. Just look at UKIP gaining 4m votes in the last general election. Look at the once totally dismissed Donald Trump now seriously contesting the US Presidency. Look at the other European states lining up for a Brexit of their own. Catering for all is impossible in politics, but Theresa May ought to show that she is on the side of the majority, at least. The Establishment must now fix itself, and reveal its pragmatic programme for ridding Britain of inequality and ignorance. If Mrs May fails to do this, she will just make her premiership more arduous than it has to be, and anti-establishment feeling will haunt her for much longer.

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europe, Scotland, society, UK Politics, World Politics

Referenda can’t be justified if they never end

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In just six years, three referenda have taken place in the United Kingdom. At the same time as the 2010 General Election took place, voters were questioned on the nation’s electoral system. In 2014, the people of Scotland were asked on the future of their ties to the rest of the UK. And this June, Brits took the plunge in voting to leave the European Union.

The grounds for these referenda do seem justified. Political tactics aside, each of the aforementioned issues were matters of great constitutional debate, and of huge national importance. The recent votes have highly encouraged political participation and awareness, with turnout of around 85% eligible voters at polling stations in both the EU and Scottish referenda.

As with many political issues, the leave the European Union has created a great divide throughout Britain. With one million votes crucially deciding the outcome of last month’s referendum, calls for a rethink, as well as a second EU referendum, have been loud. Many voters have signed petitions supporting such a move. Labour leadership hopeful Owen Smith has even made advocating for another referendum on EU membership one of his key policies.

There is no denying that the unexpected decision to leave the EU hasn’t been problematic. Sterling has seen a huge depreciation, inflation rates have sky-rocketed, and the Bank of England has implemented great easing measures with haste. Universities have been quick to reassure their Continental students of their place in Britain, and are bracing themselves for an end to the Erasmus exchange programme. In addition, anti-immigration sentiment has proven to have manifested itself across the nation, and Britain is likely to remain wary of the supranational free movement of people  for a while to come.

Even if Owen Smith falls short of winning as the Labour party’s new leader, support for a second EU referendum is sure to remain. Last month, huge anti-Brexit protests took place in London, and as many as 4m people signed a petition backing the case for a rethink vote. The Independent reported only days after the Brexit result that over 1.1m Leave voters regretted their decisions, and would have voted in the opposite fashion.

The argument for another referendum is understandable, and does have considerable ballast. As the first member state to leave the EU, Britain has fired a shot blindfolded. After much scrutiny and uncovering of the truth in the weeks which have followed the June vote, it is obvious that a second vote could result in a rather different outcome. Perhaps, had the British public been granted the luxury of hindsight, the vote for an EU exit wouldn’t have materialised.

As much as the sight of the British people turning their backs on one of the world’s strongest economies, a goldmine of extra cash, and the only judicial check upon our government is utterly reprehensible, the result of June’s vote must indeed be accepted. Failing to do so would hugely undermine British democracy. After weeks of albeit slapdash campaigning, the people had their chance to speak. Therefore, why shouldn’t the public mandate for leaving the EU be honoured? Ignoring the will of the national majority would be overwhelmingly undemocratic, and largely unfair.

Granting the public the chance to participate in decision making themselves seems like a wonderful idea at face value. Fully enfranchising everyone this way would remove the need for wily and underhanded politicians, and would give the people absolute sovereignty. The reasons for our representative democracy, however, become clear when referenda go wrong, or when the victory is marginal. Just how and when do such issues become finally settled?

The EU referendum result was marginal, with only two percentage points deciding the victors. But the quality of campaigning throughout the EU referendum has shown how the political class has hijacked the British voters. Many will have voted in favour of a vote to leave in order to escape European bureaucracy, and to – yes, you’ve guessed it – ‘take back control.’ Many of those responsible for Brussels’ unrequited love voted to leave on the basis of racial scaremongering, and were plagued by the classic outbreak of political spin. June’s referendum has shown the very serious problems with referenda, and how politicians managed to play to the fears and factual obliviousness of many Brits. Many would seriously argue that the British people are simply unable to make such difficult decisions, falling into the traps of rhetoric and unintended ignorance.

Moreover, the calls for a second referendum have shown that direct democracy does not, and should not, work in the 21st century political arena. Support for Scottish independence has remained at roughly the same levels since the 2014 vote, but calls for a second referendum have been consistent. When polls show significant support for the cause, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has made a revote one of her top priorities, much to the dismay of many Scots. Sturgeon’s biggest problem, though, is how to make a future referendum final, and how to overcome the serious issue of ignoring the already substantial public mandate made only two years ago.

Playing the EU referendum campaign out once more could indeed produce a different result, but would fail to solve Britain’s problems. Leaving such important constitutional issues to citizens is a process that I, as well as many other Brits support in principle. Our willingness to reject the outcome of referenda, however, is more worrying, and can destroy the process in practice. At which point exactly are the people supposed to accept a final result? Switzerland’s direct democracy has created a largely unstable political system. Seeing Britain resort to a similar form of political ping pong would be detrimental to the stability of the country’s legislative system.

If societies are intent on handing absolute sovereignty to citizens, they must be willing to accept the outcomes. Referenda over Scottish independence and the EU have proven problematic in recent years, as they have failed to solve political issues. It looks like the UK’s quandaries with regard to the EU and Scotland could be subjects of much debate and tumultuous campaigning for many years to come.

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europe, Scotland, society, UK Politics

May says she’ll make Brexit a success, but what about Scotland and the North?

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Theresa May assumed her position as new British Prime Minister only couple of weeks ago, but the formidable Conservative leader has been served up grave issues beckoning resolution already. Despite being an advocate for Britain to remain a member of the European Union, the Prime Minister now has the unenviable task of overseeing what will be an indisputably tumultuous Brexit. But the process of Britain leaving the EU is sure to involve much trickier challenges than she may have previously anticipated.

Recent weeks have seen numerous activists and politicians call for a second European referendum, in addition to thousands of petition signatures and suggestions of House of Lords with the intentions of blocking Brexit. But the Prime Minister has remained defiant, having accepted that Britain’s democratic principles in relation to referenda must be honoured. In her first Prime Minister’s Questions, Mrs May was keen to highlight that “Brexit means Brexit,” and that her government is determined to make a success of it.

The developments of past weeks have, however, shown that the Brexit vote does not just point to discontent with current EU administrations in Brussels. Myriad areas of Britain have revealed their anger with the state of the union with the Brexit vote. But how exactly will Theresa May make a success of them? Few could have foreseen the damage to the national status quo and Britain’s constitutional arrangements that the Vote Leave victory has done. The landscape of British politics looks more foggy than it ever has before, questioning the UK’s 300-year-old union, the credibility of UK political parties, and the nature of British foreign and economic policy.

After close examination of the EU referendum results, it is clear that British discontent reaches much farther than to institutions on the Continent alone. A vote to leave the EU was, for many, a statement of deep disregard for the state of British society and government. It is here that Mrs May’s greatest challenges lie. The Prime Minister must work fast in order to eradicate the growing disdain for the British government’s south-east-centric politics, as areas of Northern England and Scotland feel more isolated from the UK than they ever have done before.

The Leave campaign had, of course, generated a great deal of support amongst wealthy conservatives. However, the astonishing facet of the European Union referendum was the sheer number of working class individuals who sided with Eurosceptic viewpoints. The most anti-EU areas of Britain, shown to be Boston and South Holland in Lincolnshire, alongside regions like Castle Point and Great Yarmouth in the East, each show similar social trends. The vast majority of these areas have a diverse ethnic make-up which many have seen as a strain on local economies, as well as poor standards of education, and a low quality of living.

The very different issues which face the Prime Minister regarding Scotland will not disappear easily, either. Scotland’s vote to remain as part of the EU was purely a rejection of English Eurosceptic sentiment instead and, in some cases, to do with growing Westminster disregard for Scottish politics. The support for the remain campaign north of the border has shown that Scottish interests are very different to those of England. Support for Scottish independence has seen a slow but sure increase, and could threaten Theresa May’s premiership. In the same way in which she must repair relations with the north of England, the Prime Minister must now bring Scottish political issues to the fore if she is to succeed in maintaining the longevity of the union.

In spearheading the UK’s response to what many citizens see as a broken European system, Theresa May has much more to repair – Britain’s broken society, and partially broken union. The government’s attention now ought to be diverted back home, to a Scotland which severely questions its place in the United Kingdom, and to the communities of the North of England which find themselves evermore at odds with an agenda of austerity, minimal investment, and immigration.

Brexit has shown that Britain has big problems at home, let alone abroad. Rejuvenating the operation of the union is May’s next challenge. The way in which she deals with such a quandary could indeed make her premiership and hugely boost her already impressive track record. But failure to improve the quality of life and social stability of British citizens in the north of Britain could mean grave unpopularity, and higher resentment for Westminster governance. Shortcomings in relation to Scottish issues could, in time, see increased support for national independence, fuelled by disapproval with her Conservative government.

An ailing union has the power to topple Mrs May’s entire tenure as Prime Minister. Theresa May’s plans as part of her Industrial Strategy Committee are a welcome sign of planned improvements for the northern parts of England, and should bolster the togetherness of the UK. The committee on Tuesday pledged to work on the UK’s economy in areas outside of the south east of England, chiefly in areas of Manchester and in the further north. Rail link projects have also been proposed in order to boost connections between northern English communities, also in the hopes of increased economic activity. There is still work to be done, though. Investment remains puny, and austerity has meant mammoth cuts to public services and local government funding in recent years.

The importance of Scottish issues on Theresa May’s agenda has been questioned further, too. Yesterday, The Herald reported that Scotland Secretary David Mundell was not invited to May’s Industrial Strategy Committee meeting. It is somewhat disheartening to see that Scotland has been left out of Theresa May’s discussions already. As calls for more political powers for Scotland have become louder in recent years, surely the Conservatives should be seriously worried about losing their precious union. In addition, many north of the border still feel that the Smith Commission proposals did not go far enough in further liberating the Scottish government. The narrow victory for the pro-Union campaign in 2014’s referendum over Scottish independence shouldn’t be taken for granted by Mrs May.

If the Union proves too difficult to sustain in its current form, perhaps federalism is the answer. Of course, this is the outcome that the Prime Minister would dread most of all. As the nations which comprise the UK become increasingly diverse and are evidently in need of specific regional solutions to bespoke issues, perhaps a form of ‘devo-max’ across four identical regional assemblies would relieve the Westminster Parliament in its obstinacy that one size fits all.

Regional assemblies, coexisting with a larger federal government working on common issues like defence and national security, could indeed work wonders, and restore public confidence, investment, and sovereignty to parts of Britain which currently feel left out. Scottish independence hasn’t achieved a landmark support increase since 2014, and the chances of Northern England becoming a separate nation are doubtless extremely slim.

When the new Prime Minister took on the challenge of renegotiating Britain’s place in Europe, and indeed the rest of the world, the task of saving the union came, too. The EU referendum has shown up the deep societal and political differences which currently set each UK nation apart. Making a success of Brexit clearly involves a lot more than it may seem at face value. Ensuring a strong Britain after leaving the European Union can only be done be ensuring that each component of our nation works together in absolute synergy.

Unless Theresa May and her government work fast to repair the relationship with Westminster and areas outwith the south of England, the age-old union which has bound Britain together may swiftly disappear. Cries for help in the form of increased devolution is increasing as citizens consistently feel ignored. An agenda for ironing out the profound differences between the societies of northern and southern England alone, not to mention the growing issues relating to Scottish interests, must be solved before a renegotiation of European relations can take place. Making a success of Britain itself is vital before it can be deemed a success in front of the rest of the world.

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europe, society, World Politics

Communities are turning against each other in a new era of terrorism

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The seemingly eternal fight against terrorism and rampant extremism has, in recent weeks, shown no signs of coming to an end. As the West continues to barricade itself against a tempestuous storm of malicious attacks and organised crime, governments and citizens are being pushed to their limits. Cities across Europe and at the other side of the Atlantic are entering a new age of insecurity and paranoia.

France is just one of the countries at the brunt of this pandemic. The nation’s state of emergency has remained firmly in place despite President François Hollande’s hopes to lift it this week. Since anti-Semitic attacks in January 2015, and a fatal bout of terrorism in November of the same year, France has found itself and its society battered by gunmen and extremism all the more. Today saw yet another terrorist disaster at the courtesy of the so-called Islamic State take place at a church in Normandy after the already devastating French assault in Nice two weeks ago. This recent scourge of terrorism is certainly not specific to France, however. The epidemic has continued to ravage German communities in recent days after attacks in Würzburg, Reutlingen and, yesterday, Ansbach. Fatal shootings at a gay bar in Orlando, USA were also carried out killing or injuring over 100 people last month.

Whilst a great deal of the terrorism encapsulating the West has been attributed solely to extremist organisations from far abroad, not all attackers have had direct links to organised crime groups. The killer of revellers in Orlando last month was found to have no connection to Islamic State whatsoever. The same goes for the killer in a brutal knife attack this morning in Japan, and also for the 18-year-old who was inspired by growing far-right sentiment to stage a massacre of his own involving shoppers in Munich. The problems of today do not relate solely to explicitly foreign-motivated terrorism, but instead they relate more to the eruptions of radicalisation of and the extremism which involves individuals based more locally. These are people of minorities who have become consistently marginalised by government and society, and of violent attackers who have been motivated by new isolationists and frightful rhetoricians.

This paints a rather sorry picture for Europe and its similarly beaten up American partners. Communities are being drawn apart in front of our eyes. A new era of ‘interior’ terrorism and national insecurity is emerging. The task of the West isn’t only to defeat the barbaric extremist group that is Islamic State, but to instead deal with the worrying contagion of radicals pledging fealty to the IS operation, and striking in the name of it. 

Very recently, European and American leaders have introduced rigorous counterterrorism measures, some of which widely criticised for accentuating and worsening the divides of our already cut up global community. The priorities of our governments must be set straight. Of course, counteracting organised terrorism ought to be high on leaders’ to do lists. But legislation has for too long presumed criminal tendencies of select groups of people. Instead of efforts to promote cohesion and unity, our leaders have come to harshly set apart certain individuals from the rest. It is this that motivates a large proportion of today’s killers, notably those who attack under their own name, an not that of an extremist organisation.

Unity and robust social cohesion are the key components which are missing from the constructs of today’s global society. Diversity and multiculturalism must be embraced by all. For example, France’s ban on the Muslim women’s burqa is highly controversial, and has attacked important cultural principles. US presidential hopeful Donald J. Trump’s divisive comments of a Muslim shutdown, and his plans for a more “closed door” America have increasingly vilified numerous US minorities. The alarming rhetoric which has come to isolate so many has been consistently condemned by myriad advisory experts, including Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner, Tim Soutphommasane. Soutphommasane highlighted that many of those marginalised by stringent counterterrorism policy had been motivated by this alone in their savage revolts. Building support for the “anti politics” (as New Statesman writer George Eaton put it) of division, marginalisation, and stubbornness is infuriating communities, means that deviance is only likely to rise.

Whilst attempting to smother chances of terrorism, governments and security institutions are in fact creating even larger problems for themselves. Of course, only very, very few humans ever attempt to create devastation on the scale of recent attacks in Western nations. But the clear targeting and labelling of sub-groups is proving to be detrimental, and has only widened the scope for extremism to flourish. Whether attackers are frustrated by incomers to their homeland, or one minority individual is dismayed by Western nations’ disregard for them, divisive rhetoric and policies intent on singling out individuals look to only induce terrorism. The disgusting increase in casual racism and the promotion of such careless, outspoken politics continues to alienate many across the West.

Our societies are becoming fractured by racial and cultural injustices, and instead of appearing united, are leaving our communities vulnerable to the tribulations of terror. Damaging and fearful rhetoric has divided our communities. More worryingly, it is spurring a large contagion of extremists who dead set on tearing nations apart on their own initiative. People with no direct affiliation to terror groups are becoming criminals, inspired by the acts of others. 

The war on terror is moving into a new era. Unless governments and their citizens bind together to embrace multiculturalism, abandon the harm of racism, and build up social cohesion, we will make spontaneous extremists’ dreams a reality. Counterterrorism strategy and, indeed, international relations, must not centre around singling out entire minorities.

If the rise in support for the politics of the hard right escalates further, social unity and the true destruction of extremism will not materialise. The suppression and demonisation of select individuals is simply not a viable solution. Those who feel cut off from society are those who have created most harm, a theme evident in attacks which have ravaged a European, Northern American, and Asian nations of late. 

For the more conceited and judgmental wings of our political society are most to blame for the deep societal crevasses which continue to widen across global societies. Inclusion is the answer to the reunification of our communities, and the solution to the new era of terrorism taking humanity by storm. 

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europe, society, UK Politics, World Politics

Angela Merkel was in charge of the EU – now it’s Theresa May

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If anyone should be credited with the title of ‘president’ of the European Union, it has to be Germany’s formidable Chancellor, Angela Merkel. Since her election as the German nation’s premier in 2005, the strategic and nifty Merkel has become one of the European Union’s main figureheads and prolific boss of the world’s second largest economy. Recent years have seen the EU’s de facto commander preside over some of the EU’s greatest challenges including global economic crises, the biggest spurt of human movement since the Second World War, and, of course, the current epidemic of Euroscepticism.

Angela Merkel may not hold this title for much longer, however. After a British vote to leave the EU last month, the island nation, which has long had an extremely particular relationship with Europe, is now calling the shots. The number of disgruntled EU citizens is growing.

The leader of the first nation to formally vote to leave the EU, Theresa May, has unprecedented influence over the future of the European Union. This week, the new British Prime Minister made the first of her foreign visits to Germany. In the aftermath of a turbulent EU debate, Mrs May has been particularly keen to promote consistent and amicable ties with European nations.

Britain’s Vote Leave campaign, the eventual victor, and its still rampant support has been met with strong retort from European leaders who remained firm on their promises not to allow Britain to destroy the EU. But after several weeks of pressure, and after the Prime Minister’s discussions with German and French premiers, it seems that the EU is slowly warming to the reality of Brexit, paying attention to the imminent threats of Euroscepticism, and listening to the ever louder calls for EU reform.

As the reality of the UK’s vote to leave the European Union sets in, the EU is having to completely re-evaluate itself. Britain is the nation which has spurred an entirely new European era – one of provoking game-changing reform. It is Prime Minister Theresa May who is at the helm of this fascination transformation. The successes of Eurosceptic and anti-immigrant bodies around Europe are continuing to build, and it is these organisations and their supporters which shed the real influence upon the future of the Eurozone.

As discontent with the European Union in its existing state grows, the power of the EU’s most prolific leader, Angela Merkel, and her allies is rapidly declining. Power is now in the hands of those who reject the status quo – the hands of those such as Prime Minister Theresa May who must now seek a different European format for her people, and also who has sparked the creation of a different type of EU for all Europeans.

Speaking for the majority of EU member states in the company of Mrs May, Chancellor Merkel this week announced that the EU will allow Britain to delay its exit from the European Union until its action plan is totally clear. Doing so is in the European Union’s interests, and buys back time for a huge, Europe-wide re-negotiation of the EU’s institutions – a re-negotiation which may save the Eurozone from further crumbling.

Allowing Britain the liberty of deciding when to implement the Article 50 membership emergency stop clause is not the only concession being made for the UK’s Brexit. Changes to the EU’s liberal policies of free movement of people may soon be granted in attempts to soothe anti-immigration sentiment. Migration allowances coexisting with the ability to freely trade has long been one of the principle cogs of the European Union’s machinery, but one which now seems to be rusting. Despite strong initial rejection by leaders including French President François Hollande, plans for a migration break lasting for up to seven years may soon be granted to nations like the UK.

Discussions of a different future for the European Union have long proven unfruitful for Europe’s growing hard-right. Many of these conservatives are sure to be rubbing their hands. Whilst the EU becomes twitchy and the atmosphere of uncertainty becomes thick, changes surrounding the way that Europe works are becoming increasingly necessary.

As May negotiates her way to a different future for the UK in Europe, the British Prime Minister is in an enviably strong position, and perhaps is the new driver of the EU vehicle. The newly invested British premier is now vying for a plan which would allow Britain to completely control its migration levels whilst yielding the benefits of a position within the European Economic Area. Mrs May might not have voted to leave the EU herself, but as UK Prime Minister, it is now her mission to “make a success of it,” as she has repeatedly vowed.

Making a success of Brexit is exactly the type of move which will serve Mrs May’s reputation and her credibility well. Whilst a Brexit might not be the outcome for which the Prime Minister had hoped of the EU referendum in June, Theresa May is now in a position to push for real change, becoming a hero of the European right wing. As Angela Merkel’s EU becomes unworkable, Theresa May’s plan may become the solution.

The German Chancellor and her European allies are known for being stubborn, but the British Prime Minister has finally been successful in making headway. If Britain succeeds in its bid for the ability to control migration, increased controls for member states over a wide range of different issues may come. Reform is, of course, in the European Union’s interests. Hard-right populists and Eurosceptics are sure to continue to triumph if changes fail to materialise.

If the European Union wishes to survive, it looks like Merkel and her team must face up to dealing with the new challenges which could one day serve to destroy it. Reform of the EU is what will dilute Euroscepticism, keep the EU economy thriving, and ease the strain of global crises on its member states.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s European dream looks close to fading, and Theresa May is corroding the authority and political power wielded by the German leader and her supporters. Perhaps Brits believed that a vote to leave the European Union would draw it away from the continent almost instantaneously. But if the events of the past week are anything to go by, the United Kingdom is still very much involved in the politics of the EU for now.

Angela Merkel could turn around her European Union. Pressure from Theresa May and Eurosceptics from around Europe – most prevalent in nations such as France, Denmark, Austria and Netherlands – may well in coming weeks and months force large-scale reform on the EU. If current EU officials fail to recognise the need to address grave problems of migration, security and the economy, the institution which has united European nations since the end of the Second World War may break down in front of them.

Britain has led the way in starting the possible – but albeit preventable – mass exodus of European Union nations. Theresa May now has the upper hand on the EU quandary, and her protest on behalf of the British people is sure to provoke reform sooner or later. It is clear now, however, that it is largely Mrs May who is calling the shots over the future of the EU, and it could indeed be her who, quite paradoxically, saves it.

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europe, society, UK Politics, World Politics

The future of Boris and his ambition is in May’s hands

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Flapping around in the midst of the EU referendum fallout, the Conservative Party is currently enduring what may only be the start of a lengthy spell of political turbulence. Prevailing volatility amongst raging factions of Remainers and Brexiteers has shown that the UK’s recent vote has failed to eradicate the tense mood which currently shrouds the Tory party. Stranded at the epicentre of the Brexit wreckage, the Tories have been left broken and despairing. June’s ballot has certainly not put an end to the Conservatives party’s epidemic of quarrelling, and future success for the party looks to be considerably far out of reach.

The European Union isn’t the only source of the UK government’s quandaries, though. In a vetting process originally set to take at least ten weeks, David Cameron’s successor has been rapidly selected in just three. Upon the surprising victory for Vote Leave, it were former Mayor of London Boris Johnson who was originally tipped to succeed the now disposed of Cameron.

After a rather uncharacteristically serious stint as co-frontman for the Vote Leave campaign alongside Michael Gove, a large proportion of the Tory party believed that it were Boris who had proven himself worthy of leadership. But Gove’s crafty moves to undermine Johnson in the party leadership contest were relatively successful. His cunning decision to run against Johnson – an act described by many as treachery – has certainly prevented Boris from mapping the Conservatives’ direction in the short term.

Last week, most thought that Boris Johnson was finished, and that he may never hold any more influential party position than that of a constituency MP. But the prominent blondie may well come back to widen the Tory party’s divide in months and years to come – especially during or following the incumbency of newly-appointed Theresa May.

Yesterday, it were instead she, the former Home Secretary, who triumphantly stood in front of Number 10, ready to colonise Westminster with her distinctly formidable demeanour and uncompromising approach to decision-making. Today, May pressed on with the hand-picking of her new political arsenal. Mrs May’s cabinet has seen many a surprising appointment, however, including – rather controversially – that of the  Boris Johnson who is now Britain’s foreign secretary.

One of the politicians deemed most responsible for the great rift which has sprung up in the middle of the Tory party now sits in one of the most important positions in politics. But seated underneath the watch of Theresa May means that Johnson will be, to an extent, constrained. Everyone knows that Boris is a careerist and has dreams of the Tory party leadership. Theresa May’s tactics remain to be seen, but, needless to say, Mrs May will be keen to dissociate herself from Johnson’s politics which could subvert her much-needed authority.

But it is Mrs May who has the upper hand now. It is she who has the power to decide the fate of Boris Johnson. Will he be a successful foreign secretary, bolster his standing within the party, continuing to stoke the still red hot coals of the Eurosceptics’ campfire? Or will the new Prime Minister user her iron fist to manoeuvre Johnson off her path, clamping down on his sizeable realm of support?

By promoting Boris Johnson, who will surely be one of her government’s most prolific ministers, Theresa May could possibly have made a fatal error. Despite only a marginal win for Vote Leave, Brexit generated not only wide support for cutting ties with the European Union, but also for Boris Johnson himself. Today’s cabinet announcements include six Brexiteers – six individuals who still advocate for the views of the Tories’ large Eurosceptic, more libertarian base.

Herein lies the problem. In the event that the popularity of Mrs May begins to wane, the grounds for Boris Johnson to become the backseat driver of this government could look strong. Providing Boris Johnson with such stature could come back to kick Mrs May, and could be detrimental to the stability of her brand new premiership.

On the other hand, allowing Boris Johnson to have a degree of political ammunition is a somewhat clever move. Undoubtedly, Boris’ careerism and ambition to work his way into the top seats of government still exists. Keeping the man who has the power to be most divisive in the cabinet forces a great deal of responsibility upon him.

His ability to largely manage the UK’s global affairs, and, needless to say, implement the Brexit for which he so desperately advocated, shows that sympathy is not one of Theresa May’s defining characteristics as a politician. If the operation of leaving the European Union backfires, it will not be Mrs May who takes the blame. And, of course, an ability to broker deals and negotiate with international neighbours is essential for truly great politicians.

Should Boris Johnson fail to become a hit with the rest of the world’s biggest economies, the future premiership hopeful’s reputation will be destroyed. Currently, his global record isn’t wholly clean, having made several offensive remarks in relation to other cultures, prompting worldwide hostility. Johnson was booed at a French press conference today, is reportedly hated in Brussels, and many Germans cannot believe Boris’ new status. Judging by Theresa May’s ‘take no prisoners’ attitude to government, Boris Johnson and his future chances will be eaten alive by his fellow party members should he make detrimental diplomatic blunders.

Albeit considerably better organised, the Tory party is still precariously balanced upon the controversy of issues relating to the European Union, immigration, and the only very recently more earnest Boris Johnson. Prime Minister Theresa May has made the decision to feed Mr Johnson the power for which he eternally begs, but keeping Boris at bay is vital to the stability of her leadership. Gaffes, policy rejection, and rebellion could result in a challenge to her leadership just as messy as that carried out by Gove towards Johnson.

Theresa May has shown in the past that she is a formidable leader. She is one of few Home Secretaries to emerge from the position with their reputation unscathed enough to battle on in the cabinet. With the right foresight and meticulousness, Mrs May could indeed revive the Tory party to its former robustness. As the internal lining of the Conservative party fabric is now close to tearing, it is vital that stitches it back together, with Theresa May pushing her cabinet ministers and backbenchers into line with her tough approach – especially Boris Johnson.

UK politics has never before been so Machiavellian, based on opportunism, and required such precise tactics. If the nation’s new Prime Minister shows any signs of flinching, those on the other side of the Tory party will surely squirm their way out of their muzzles immediately, Boris Johnson clenching the reins. Theresa May had better have had her game plan drawn up weeks ago. The careerism and ambition of Boris Johnson has certainly not been halted, but the Prime Minister must fast minimise it. Clever manipulation by Mrs May of her internal opponents is what will veer them away from her new political stomping ground. Johnson is the Prime Minister’s biggest threat, but whether or not he will be a success or a failure is her call.

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europe, Scotland, society, UK Politics, World Politics

Brexit isn’t progressive, but Sturgeon’s plan could be

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The events of the United Kingdom’s political scene over the past seven days have shown that change in politics takes place at a rapid pace. Since a vote last Thursday to leave the European Union, Prime Minister David Cameron has tendered his resignation, Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn has been left reeling after damning Cabinet resignations and a vote of no confidence, myriad international markets have become volatile, and many British citizens are now profoundly divided – both politically and socially.

For those voters who are startled by violent change, or simply prefer the status quo, then at least some of the Remain campaign’s predictions seem to have translated into reality. They don’t make for comfortable listening, though. Needless to say, supporters of a vote to remain as a member of the EU claimed that economic hardship, extremism, and constitutional crises would disease our societal construct in the light of a Brexit.

As if the murder of an MP and the demonisation of many ethnic minorities were not demoralising enough, recent days have already shown that the fear-centric Vote Leave campaign is infilitrating British communities fast. Many police forces this week have already reported a huge rise in racially motivated crimes, an albeit small minority of Brexiteers rejecting the EU on the grounds of abhorrent xenophobia.

A vast degree of economic calamity has arrived, too, causing pandemonium among CEOs, financial boffins and top bankers. The UK has lost its first class credit rating, the housing market is showing signs of slowing, market trading figures and the value of the pound have plummeted, and some of the globe’s biggest corporations are questioning the security of their futures within Britain.

More fascinatingly, but still worrying enough, is that Britain has pushed itself into an abyss of constitutional uncertainty. After a clear divide between English, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish voters last Thursday, the 300-year-old union is showing its age. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s political arsenal has more artillery than ever, the infamous SNP leader currently one of the world’s most influential leaders with the potential to drastically alter the international affairs agenda.

Wednesday saw Sturgeon meet with numerous EU officials including Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, and Parliamentary President Martin Schulz. Scotland’s voice drowned out by the largely English-driven Brexit cacophony, the First Minister is keen to spread her crucial message – that her nation’s interests are being overriden.

It is now that Nicola Sturgeon has the freedom to forge new politics for Scotland. With Sturgeon holding an unprecedented global stature for a Scottish leader, the quandaries of Scotland’s interests and position are back up for discussion. In just several years’ time, citizens may bear witness to a fiery independence referendum campaign once again. Yesterday evening, JP Morgan predicted that , by the UK’s 2019 exit from the EU, Scotland will vote again on independence and use a separate currency.

Sturgeon has, for all of her life, been a stringent advocate and guardian of Scottish interests. Over the momentarily slippery issues in relation to the EU, she shows no signs of doing anything differently. The SNP’s 2016 manifesto clearly outlined that the party still saw independence as achievable in the not-too-distant future. For Sturgeon, the elongated EU debate has provided the chance for reignition of the independence flame, and for the creation of a progressive Scottish state.

The intentions of Vote Leave’s Boris Johnson and Michael Gove may seem like an unlikely match with those of the truly internationalist Nicola Sturgeon’s. But the aforementioned politics do have more in common than you may think at first. Both sides intend to leave some form of political, social, cultural, and economic union. For the right-wing Brexit duo of Johnson and Gove, the European Union is their foe, and for the socially democratic Sturgeon, the arguably outdated United Kingdom is her achilles heel.

Undeniably, the two sides differ majorly. In a huge contrast, the Brexit soon to be fully imposed on UK citizens is in no ways progressive, support for which predominantly – but not totally – thanks to those of the right. Sturgeon’s possible exit is nothing of this type, however. The plan supported by the SNP and by an increasing number of Scots is for a truly progressive relationship with the European Union – an ethos set to extend to issues of home affairs, too.

Sturgeon only has the Brexit crisis to thank for this sudden boost in success. Glancing over the recent prognosis of the ailing United Kingdom, the iconic leader must be feeling a tad of schadenfreude. Many voters are now having the revelation which Alex Salmond’s independence campaign fell short of wholly inspiring two years ago. The 2014 referendum bid frightened many away from a Yes vote with the worries that independence would isolate the Scottish nation, and render the views of the people dead in future decision-making.

A high degree of political isolation is what many supporters of a Brexit have indeed voted for of late, and its consequences are provingt that a Scottish exit from the UK would be something vastly different. Unfortunately, Brexiteers have voted for a UK nation that will have attributes of deeper social injustice at its fore. It seems that the chances of a more left-wing Brexit have been shattered with the paralysis of the Labour party.

It is Sturgeon’s plan, though, that could eradicate the poisonous epidemic of xenophobia and paranoia currently sweeping Britain. The exit which Britain has made from the European Union is exactly what Sturgeon’s plan for Scottish independence wouldn’t be. Johnson and Gove’s Brexit blueprint has highlighted that Scotland’s exit from the UK could spur positive change, and that the policies for which they advocated during the EU campaign were not progressive.

As a growingly successful – and truly European – leader, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon now has the power to transform Scotland, making the nation a key voice within an ever louder European chorus. Despite being the outcome the First Minister wanted least, a vote to leave the European Union last week has provided the grounds for an argument detailing a more progressive Scotland. Brexit has pushed the topic of Scottish sovereignty back into the political arena, and her case has generated a great deal of support.Prime Minister David Cameron, whose days are numbered, even praised Sturgeon’s EU efforts on Wednesday.

Nicola Sturgeon’s diplomatic campaign this week did not just have the ideas of Scottish independence at heart, but also ideas of a solidarity, social justice, and co-operation. Her position as the antithesis of Boris Johnson has been a real plus. What could have been Sturgeon’s greatest nightmare has turned into a huge political advantage. Many who are dismayed by the new, somewhat backward Brexit may flock to Sturgeon’s side in the hope that an independent Scotland would be a game-changer. Presenting herself as face of an alternative to the individualist and neoliberal case for Brexit has shown that Scotland is a uniquely different entity, and that the SNP are one force of true advocates for togetherness and political, social, and economic growth.

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europe, Scotland, society, UK Politics, World Politics

Sturgeon has total power over UK’s fate after Brexit

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When the major blow of Yes Scotland’s defeat set in during the aftermath of 2014’s Scottish independence referendum, many believed that the SNP would become a paralysed, lost cause from then on. Few would have thought that, under the sturdy leadership of the formidable Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish National Party would regain its position in dominating Scottish decision-making. However, Britain’s surprising verdict on EU membership has proven that Sturgeon’s contingent isn’t just controlling Scottish politics.

Rated by Forbes magazine as the most powerful woman in Britain after Queen Elizabeth II, not to mention the 50th most influential in the entire world, Brexit is changing Nicola Sturgeon and her party’s fortune. Perhaps next year’s rankings will have Sturgeon placed higher. I certainly wouldn’t argue with it. But whilst Brexit is stripping the good fortune of many British politicians, such as that of the precariously placed Jeremy Corbyn, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and her party has only gained a position of greater power.

Given that victory for the Leave campaign in last week’s EU referendum was largely down to English votes, protest by many passionate internationalists and keen Scottish nationalists has dominated headlines. Scotland’s intentions evidenced by last week’s vote – of more than 70% support for Remain in many areas north of the border – has clearly shown that policy should take a different direction here.

After arguing consistently that a Brexit is not in the interests of the people of Scotland, the Scottish First Minister’s gargantuan new task is to rescue Scotland from the effects of Vote Leave. But the flipside is that this gives the SNP an exceptional political advantage. Nicola Sturgeon is in total control of Scotland’s future within the EU, and that influence does not span across issues with regard only to Scotland. In the likely event that the SNP leader is unable to forge a deal granting European Union membership to Scottish citizens alone, it will be Nicola Sturgeon who is in charge of deciding whether or not the United Kingdom really is united, refuelling her independence crusade.

The volume of influence that the Scottish First Minister now brandishes places Scotland in a very strong position at the fiery EU negotiating table. The events of this week have shown that the First Minister will remain silent at her peril. The Brexit result which hoped to bring increased sovereignty for the entirety of the UK has in turn weakened ties between Westminster and its sibling Scottish parliament at Holyrood.

Since 2007, the SNP has been the major force in Scottish politics, standing as the party of traditional social democracy, and, of course, independence. However, Sturgeon’s position as a key player in international affairs has become stronger thanks to a victory for Vote Leave. The triumphs of Johnson, Gove and Farage in terms of the European Union have not translated into triumphs for the UK’s union. For a Brexit has all the more accentuated the deep political crevasses which set apart the different components of the UK.

It seems that David Cameron has made a fatal error by underestimating the challenges of keeping Britain in the European Union, not to mention the challenges of keeping Britain on side with his party’s government. A harsh split, further nursed by the Prime Minister’s Friday morning resignation, threatens the future of Conservative party politics. The Labour party is no safe haven either. Ravaged by a leader deemed unable to take it to its peak in a possibly imminent General Election, Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership looks tenuous.

71669140_jpg_galleryNicola Sturgeon is no fool. Her party has seen numerous victories of late, and her ability as a skillful tactician is more obvious than ever before. The aforementioned failings highlighted by the shock of Brexit have only widened Sturgeon’s stage as an influential policymaker. In recent days, SNP support has surged, an effect similar to that achieved by the Party during the aftermath of the 2014 referendum. Inner party turmoil certainly doesn’t riddle the SNP. Sturgeon’s socially democratic force is one of the only ones avoiding a rift with its clear-cut policy, and this is one of its grandest assets.

The SNP is a decisive and strategic band, a tidal wave which now seems to dwarf the fragmented Labour and Conservative parties at Westminster. Sturgeon isn’t right-wing populism, Sturgeon isn’t scaremongering, and Sturgeon isn’t austerity. Faisal Islam of ITV remarked this morning that it is Nicola Sturgeon who has “the most thought out plan” for Brexit. In a likely snap general election, the First Minister is sure to pick up some of the votes of those who have become dismayed by the Tories’ and Labour’s endless internal strife. Her shrewdness and sharp-witted nature are her doubtless fortes which have been brought to light all thanks to Brexit. As long this adeptness does not fail, the SNP will call the shots in Scottish politics, and indeed in European relations, for many months and years to come.

With the failings of the UK Parliament parties in producing constructive political change, as well as a vote for Brexit which ignores Scottish votes, Sturgeon’s movement for independence may, too, build in strength and support. A reassessment of relations between the UK and EU has brought the question of national sovereignty back into the political arena. Aims of the Smith Commission evidently haven’t gone far enough, and in ways akin to the post-Brexit case, Scotland’s opinions are becoming drowned out. The contrast in opinions over the EU between England and Scotland serves to demonstrate exactly why Scotland is growing tired of the talking shop that is Westminster. Sturgeon has the ultimate upper hand over the future of the United Kingdom, and Sturgeon’s movements may well provoke a breakup.

More interestingly, the future of Scottish Labour looks grim. The European Union question may well change opinions of the Holyrood party whose support has plummeted over recent years. Yesterday it was widely reported that the Scottish Labour leader, Kezia Dugdale, will consider support for independence. But this is surely a political death of Sturgeon’s arguably inadvertent making. Dugdale’s extreme desperation for votes in tandem with growing support for the nationalist cause could mean that even the skeleton of Labour’s Scottish branch is no longer safe from a painful fracture. If her strategy is to support independence, Dugdale risks splitting her party between nationalists and unionists, only playing into Sturgeon’s hands.

The European Union debate has questioned not only UK sovereignty, but also the sovereignty of the separate nation states which make up the UK. Recent events have shown clearly that the politics of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are vastly different.

With Sturgeon ceasing the opportunity for using this as a vehicle for constitutional change within Scotland, it is easy to see that the Scottish First Minister’s actions over coming months will largely determine also the United Kingdom’s fate. Along with the most prominent of British and EU officials, it is the Nicola Sturgeon who will have one of the most influential seats at the Brexit negotiation table. Whilst both major political parties within Westminster are fast collapsing, diseased by pathogens of indecisiveness and disarray, it is Nicola Sturgeon’s party which remains dead set on its policy. The First Minister of Scotland only has Westminster to thank for her unprecedented leverage. After the breakthrough of devolution in 1999, along with an intense referendum discussion two years ago, few could have foreseen Scotland continuing to pose such a huge threat to the longevity of the UK.

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