The historic vote for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union last week was very close.
The night began well for Remain, and was close throughout the night. However, Leave secured a victory in the early hours, even if it was by only four points.
As with recent domestic political events – it was rather unexpected. Even ardent Out supporters were surprised at the level of success their campaign had – and their subsequent victory.
As with recent domestic political events and votes – there was another message from the voters lying underneath the votes, and another layer of meaning. The message from voters was essentially that the UK public are fed up and tired with mainstream politics and politicians, and are no longer trusting in experts. The media seemingly picked up on the latter in the run up to the voting, with the former only becoming very evident once the votes were counted and announced. Whilst choosing to leave, many voters, it was felt, were expressing their sentiments against the established political orthodoxy. Two party, Westminster politics is no longer popular with the public; quite the opposite. As with the Scottish Referendum, and recent local elections, voters are increasingly looking to local administrations, and regional authorities, for resolution of local matters. Rule from Westminster is increasingly unpopular, and is seen as increasingly out of touch, in many regions.
It is not just a London centred, Westminster approach, to government and administration. The whole political system was seemingly condemned as voters rejected the political orthodoxy of the Remain camp. This was not just a matter of choosing to stay or remain in a troubled Union; it seemingly was also perceived as choosing whether to continue supporting a tired, out of touch political system in the Remain camp, or the change and new approaches in the Leave camp. If that interpretation, as advance. by some political theorists and commentators, is true, then the actual nature of how the United Kingdom is governed is also due for overhaul, whether the politicians want that or not.
The other (but related) layer of meaning in the Leave win is that the UK is very disunited. The four nations voted very certain and separate ways, essentially according to their own national interests. Scotland has long been the most European of the home nations, with Edin dubbed by some as the Athens of the North. Unsurprisingly, the result was overwhelmingly for Remain. This once again demonstrated the togetherness of the Scottish nation; recent political events have seen the Scots by and large acting together in support, and showing a united front. Be it at the polls, or by the remarkable unity and discipline of the Scottish National Party (SNP), Scotland has never been more united.
In Northern Ireland, the voting was very close – but the vote was overall for Remain, similar to Scotland. That result, and the subsequent speeches of Northern Irish leaders, has called into question the status and relationship of Northern Ireland with both the United Kingdom, and indeed the Republic of Ireland. There is much that can be said about that. Clearly that story has yet to be written; the Leave vote will very much dominate the future of that troubled Province for years to come.
The majority of the Leave vote came from England & Wales. London, however, was interesting in that great parts of the city voted to Remain. However, in recent years, the sway and power that London has over the rest of the country has diminished as the regions seek more power and autonomy, and people have got ever more fed up with London centred rule and polices. So, moving swiftly on, how the various regions, cities and rural areas voted is very informative. Doubtless political experts will be picking over that carcass fro a very long time.
The essential point is that the United Kingdom showed a very disunited front when confronted with the choice. The four nations voted so very differently, and in accordance with their national interests. All four nations have had a turbulent relationship together, since long before any Acts of Union. It is the very disunity, the very disharmony, the often great animosity and misunderstanding of each nation for the other that over the years has made the United Kingdom – united. That very disunity has, ironically, created a very stable, united, prosperous and successful United Kingdom. Acting together, even with often very deep distrust, over the centuries the four home nations have come together and shown a wonderful and perfect union.
As the calls go out over the next few months for further independence, further Referendums, and the scene essentially set for what could be the breakup of a centuries old Union, the four nations and their people would do very well to remember and. insider this. Out of that very disharmony, as demonstrated so clearly as the votes were counted, lies the successful union of four opposing nations. It would be a shame for such a great Union to be destroyed by the nation as a whole whilst leaving the greater union of the European Union.