The Acts and Treaties – the very fundamentals of the Union of Great Britain – did not extinguish the four nations. They remained active in history, culture, law and fact, and – crucially – each nation retains the sovereign right to self-determination.
None of the Acts and Treaties tell us that there will be a British nation. Divided nationality remained. They all recognise the continuing existence of the distinct nations. “Great Britain” has, under none of its various names, ever been a unitary state.
If you are prepared to accept this understanding of the Union then we can have a constructive conversation about the best arrangements as to how this Union should operate – or end. But if those rights are not respected we can’t because you are denying the equal right of self-determination to each in matters of governance to the English, Welsh, Irish and Scottish nations.
If you claim “British” nationality is a card which trumps the rights of any of the four nationalities, then tell me – where did you get the trump card from? And why don’t Scotland, Wales or Ireland ever get to use it?
And this is the tragedy of debates surrounding the constitution in these islands. All too often, we don’t even talk with the same meaning in the language we use. Nor do we start from a common understanding of history, democracy or law.
Can we use 2021 to try restarting the conversation?
- citizen's assembly
- citizen science
- climate change
- clinical trial
- direct sale
- East Lothian
- food systems
- global warming
- human rights
- North Berwick
- return scheme
- social justice
- weight management
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