On December 12, 2019, voters asked Johnson for a large majority to take the UK out of the EU, after 48 years of membership. Will Scotland demand independence to stay in the EU? Will there be possible new tensions in Ulster? And what about BREXIT?
After the vote in the legislative elections of December 12th, the United Kingdom decided leave the European Union by end of January 2020.
The exit process started in 2016, with the vote in a UK referendum wanted by the then Prime Minister David Cameron.
From 2017 to 2019, the UK and the EU negotiated a consensual separation. The agreement is still on the table, but the government of Boris Johnson has not yet ratified it.
Before the elections
In July 2019, Boris Johnson was elected as Conservatives’ leader and appointed as Prime Minister, after Theresa May‘s resignation. Johnson could not get Parliament to approve a revised withdrawal agreement by the end of October and chose to call for a new elections. The Conservative Party, having failed to obtain a majority in the 2017 general election, had faced a prolonged parliamentary deadlock over Brexit while it governed in minority with the support of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).
The election resulted in a Conservative win with a landslide majority of 80 seats (their largest majority since 1987), with the party making a net gain of 48 seats and winning 43.6% of the vote (the highest percentage by any party since 1979). The Labour Party performed poorly, making a net loss of 60 seats while winning 32.1% of the vote.
The Scottish National Party (SNP) made a net gain of 13 seats and won 3.9% of the vote. The Liberal Democrats improved their vote share to 11.6% in the election, but made a net loss of one seat. The election also saw both the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and Alliance Party of Northern Ireland re-gain representation in the Commons.
The future of UK
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said a second referendum on Scottish independence should be held in 2020.
The SNP‘s goal is for Scotland to leave the United Kingdom and rejoin the EU as an independent member state. But how could this happen?
Why is Scottish independence back in the spotlight? The first Scotland independence referendum was held in September 2014, with the No campaign winning 55% of the votes.
In 2016, Brexit happened. Voters in Scotland backed Remain by 62% – but those across the UK as a whole voted Leave by 52%.
The SNP saw this as a “material change in circumstances” which would justify a second independence ballot, because Scotland faced being taken out of the EU “against its will”. What it will happen if YES vote will win?
Irish Republican Catholic separatists, Irish Protestant trade unionists and loyalists to the British government have been seriously concerned about the impact of the impending Brexit.
Northern Ireland, a politically turbulent region of the United Kingdom, has been strangely silent since the 1998 Good Friday agreement between the British government, the Irish government and the main Protestant and Catholic parties in the region was signed.
But London’s Brexit deadlock has messed things up since both sides of the conflict, Irish Republican Catholic separatists and Irish Protestant trade unionists, as well as loyalists to the British government are unsure of the status of the disputed region.
Violence increased significantly in 2019, according to a November report prepared by the Independent Reporting Commission, with at least three people killed and 81 others injured by Irish paramilitary groups.
The conflict in Northern Ireland started in the late 1960s due to the sectarian divisions of the region. While Catholic-majority Ireland won its independence in 1922 after a bloody war with Britain, its Protestant majority in the north refused to secede from London, causing political and military conflict between the two Irish communities.
A brief history of the UK and EU
The United Kingdom became a member of the EU in 1972, after 9 years of French vetoes and many discussions.
The United Kingdom did not sign the previous 1957 Treaty of Rome, which established the European Economic Community (EEC) and began the first discussions to join the EEC in July 1961.
In 1963 and then in 1967, the French president Charles de Gaulle vetoed the entry of UK, both for problems for agriculture and for the British hostility, denounced by De Gaulle, against any pan-European project.
In 1969, the United Kingdom submitted a third and valid application for membership. At that time exports to Europe and investments in Europe exceeded those to the countries of the Commonwealth and this favoured a unanimous consensus for its accession.
UK became EU member in October 1972.
UK was however considered a half EU member, because it has not joined the Schengen Treaty, does not participate in monetary union, has not signed other EU treaties and has always claimed to be reimbursed for the extra money paid to the EU budget.