Another Big Week Ahead

The costs/benefits of Brexit are still evolving. One political cost of implementing it is that the head of the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland, Foster, bowed to the mounting pressure and is to step down as the First Minister at the end of June.

The DUP supported Brexit, but the border checks between Northern Ireland and Britain were too much. Many feel betrayed by UK Prime Minister Johnson, who previously scoffed at the suggestion of a border in the Irish Sea and the Northern Ireland Protocol. Northern Ireland's government does not face voters until next year. 

Another cost of Brexit may be evident in the local elections in Scotland. Internal strife led to a split in the Scottish Nationalist Party, but it appears that a pro-independent majority will be secured. The SNP is advocating a referendum in the new parliament that will be elected next week. It would shoot for the middle of the five-year term, so roughly mid-2023. The Johnson government argues that the 2014 referendum was a once-in-a-generation event. The SNP counters that Brexit, which the Scottish people opposed, was a material change.

A critical issue that needs to be explored for Scotland is whether the EU would welcome it and expedite membership. Without it, an independent Scotland may not be economically viable. The EU does not want to encourage separatist movements, for which there are several in Europe.

On the other hand, its animosity toward the UK for pursuing Brexit in the first place, but also how it has handled itself, like unilaterally deciding to (temporarily) stop checks on goods going into Northern Ireland from the rest of Britain, may tempt it to find a reason why the Scottish situation is unique.

The government in Wales (Senedd) has been dominated by Labour since its inception in 1999. The outcome is clouded by two developments. The first is with Brexit achieved, the UKIP party is a shadow of its previous self. As one might expect, former UKIP voters are drifting (back) into the Tories' fold. The other unknown is the impact of allowing 16-17-year-olds to vote for the first time. The younger cohort can vote in Scotland.

Despite parallels often drawn between the UK and US political culture, this is a stark contrast. The franchise is being extended in Wales (and has already been extended in Scotland), while in the US, many states are considering legislation that will likely result in fewer people voting.

Some argue that 16-17-year-olds will not vote in high numbers and are not sufficiently informed. That may be the case, but that argument has been used to restrict the franchise for other groups historically, and many important decisions on both sides of the Atlantic appear to have been made with small majorities. Some have suggested that if that younger cohort got to vote throughout the UK, it might still be in the EU.

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Read more by Marc on his site Marc to Market.

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed are solely of the author’s, based on current ...

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