Some interesting predictions coming out of the not-so-United Kingdom: Sir Gus ODonnell, the head of the UK Civil Service, wrote in the Telegraph recently that he thinks that the Kingdom might not be United for too much longer:
Sir Gus’s comments about the Union highlight the fact that British voters and politicians are facing serious questions about the future of the UK as a single country.Alex Salmond’s Scottish Nationalist Party dominates the Scottish parliament and has promised a referendum on independence before 2016.When the nationalists won a resounding victory in the Scottish election in May, David Cameron promised to fight “with every fibre” to keep Scotland in the Union.
Sir Gus may hold a non-political position in UK government, but his statements are taken quite seriously in the country’s political world. His job position is much more high-profile and important than any career bureaucrat in the United States. It’s almost the equivalent of the chief justice of the US Supreme Court warning that the union might break up.Probably nothing will happen. The Quebeckers have been talking about secession for decades but they never quite pull the trigger. Ditto the various secessionist movements in Italy and Spain. Threatening to secede but never actually doing it is a good way for regions to extort goodies from the center. But the Scots are serious people; secession can’t quite be ruled out. One wild card to think about in all the turmoil of the EU-UK relationship: if the Parliament at Westminster votes to leave the EU, the Scots might well take the opportunity to exit the UK.This should give English euroskeptics pause. The French, one suspects, would be happy to give a Scottish application for EU membership a warm and generous welcome.