Are you sitting down?
I do hope so. Best not to be eating or drinking while reading this as you may choke with disbelief, or spew forth a spray of beverage in a fit of laughter. Best to play it safe, health & safety and all that.
Here we go...
There is something David Cameron could promise that would win back the EU sceptics, make the Conservatives electable in areas where they would not have been for decades, if ever, which would address not one but two of the BIG issues that will face them.
He should promise a referendum to the UK.
Yes, he should offer a referendum on Lisbon and the UK’s position within the EU be it pre or post ratification, but that is not what I am talking about.
He could offer the whole of the UK a referendum on whether we want to remain as the UK.
Stick with me for a minute, I will keep this brief.
A year ago I was very much a man of the Union (our one, not the European one), I still am. However it is clear there is a good number of people north of the wall that would like to move away from London rule. Likewise, there are many people of a similar mind in Wales. England has not really been consulted on such matters yet, but I know would like a chance to debate and vote on the matter. Northern Ireland, well that is of course an entirely different situation all together, and not one I can do justice to in a short post. Suffice to say, I recognise this would be a divisive and aggravating topic, and I do not pretend to have the answers to all the concerns that might be raised there. I recognise this would not be universally popular, easy or without a lot of negotiation.
Wales, Northern Ireland, England and Scotland have all entered the UK under different circumstances, at different times and in different ways. Each would need a different legal manner for parting, and each would have different needs to be addressed. For example the judiciary of Wales is tied to England in a way that the Scottish courts are not; there are many more examples. I will not go too far into the details as they are too numerous. As much as I respect that Scotland would want to not be ruled from London, I would rather everyone in this Union had a say in a vote rather than to allow Scotland to succeed… we should all be allowed to debate and work through this together. In a way we would all be voting on a different process.
Potentially a UK council could be retained to address all the matters that just cannot be split out in the short term, and gradually be wound down as each issue became addressed over time. For example, the UK armed forces could not be split up over night, nor would a passport office and system spring up over night. Though an amicable split could be achieved, we are very closely tied to each other, and some things would need the benefit of time to devolve properly, fairly and economically.
This all would be exceptionally controversial, and luckily this blog does not really have the range to need to worry too much about this actually being seriously considered by anyone with any real political or legal power. I can occasionally afford myself the luxury of putting up some random musings, like this one - but it is worth a thought. Even in the hypothetical.
David Cameron’s Conservatives cannot ignore the West Lothian question if they come to power; I am not convinced they have a working solution that will sit well with all of the UK. I have not yet heard what they plan to do should they get the opportunity to govern.
However, as intimated above, this would also address another BIG subject. That of EU membership. If the Union were dissolved the UK Parliament would no longer be. England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland would all be separate nations, none of which could be bound, should they not wish to be by membership of the EU. I would need a lawyer to be sure on this, which I cannot afford, but self rule would allow the establishment of self governance and from that point each country could pick what laws they like to follow at the point of the split, and which treaties they wish to observe, and possibly sign up to immediately after. If each country wished to, they could potentially re-negotiate their way into a post Lisbon EU.
As such we have a policy that could be pursued over a period of time that would allow a radical shake up of how the UK functions, or ceases to function and allows open debate on the benefits and pitfalls of EU membership. Best of all, if put to a referendum it really does put power in the hands of the people.
Did I fall on my head? Am I tapping away drunk? Did Daniel1979’s blogger sign in leak to the Internet? Have I gone stark raving bonkers (well, more so)….. No.
Am I serious?
I am not accustomed to floating the idea of the break-up of a nation, let alone my own. But, I have been thinking about the dwindling ways I could become free of the EU without moving, and the options are all limited and now all seem like “nuclear options”. Reading many Scottish blogs over the last year I am also of the mind that perhaps England too would be happier if we all went back to self rule.
Don’t panic though, there is no way Dave Cameron would dream of entertaining such thoughts, and I would eat my dogs regurgitated dinner before you will hear a Conservative leader propose the break up (or is it break down?) of the UK. The Conservatives are of course proudly the party of the Union (both, in their case). Labour too knows that they would never again get elected to the London Parliament without Scottish and Welsh support. It is probably a good thing by all that I sit and write from home rather than join and cajole a political party.
Update 9th Oct: Outlander had beaten me to it.