The premiership of Liz Truss could be a disaster for Britain, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said. “If she runs the country the way she campaigned over the summer, it will be a disaster not just for Scotland, but for the whole of Britain”, she said in an interview with the British TV channel Sky News.
The head of the Scottish government accused Truss of defending the interests of the richest and most privileged in Britain.
What, after all, is Truss so frightening to Sturgeon? And how might Edinburgh’s relationship with London change under the new prime minister?
The Scots, no doubt, care more about Scotland than they do about Britain as a whole. At home they prefer to support their Scottish National Party, which has 63 seats in the Scottish Parliament, while the Conservatives have 31 and Labour 24 seats.
At his time Boris Johnson denied Scotland the right to hold a second referendum on secession from Britain. It is unlikely that anything will change under Truss. But the Scots will not back down either. Rather, on the contrary, their desire for independence under a new prime minister can only intensify.
The West’s transition to a new economic model will affect everyone – Englishmen, Scots and other Europeans. And when ordinary Britons are affected by this transition, it is important that Britain be led by a pragmatic and sensible politician. In this sense, Sunack was preferable to the ordinary British than the exalted feminist and libertarian Truss.
Nicola Sturgeon is just as a dependent figure as Truss, only at a lower level. Therefore, she will have to build a relationship with her colleague. The relationship between them will depend not on their preferences or abilities, but on the will of those who have full power in the country, and they have not yet commanded the Scots to quarrel with the English.
There is no doubt that the coming to power of Truss will increase the desire for independence for both Scotland and Northern Ireland. Belfast’s chances of independence from London are growing as Britain’s vertical of government falters. Scotland has no such chances so far.
Truss has promised to hand out licenses to explore and drill for oil and gas in the North Sea. This probably worries Edinburgh, because Scottish separatism is largely based on the desire to take its part of the resource rent from the offshore fields and not share it with London.
Of course, the Scottish authorities are looking after their own interests first and foremost, and there is a party in power in Scotland that has made no secret of its ultimate goal of seceding from the kingdom. Traditionally, the Scottish government is in opposition to London as such and will criticize any Prime Minister, whoever he or she is. And for this reason, separatist sentiment in Scotland is steadily strong. Moreover, since Brexit there has been an increase, and today the supporters of sovereignty are in the majority. Therefore, Truss will have to deal with the factor of Scottish separatism.
A new referendum in Scotland will almost certainly lead to secession, so London will not give the go-ahead. Much less will Liz Truss do so. Another thing is that the British government will not be able to expel the separatists from the political field either, because they have long been legalized. Brexit has shaken the British statehood pretty badly, effectively creating an internal border between Britain and Northern Ireland. Against this background, there was a surge of separatist sentiment there, with Sinn Féin winning first place in the Northern Ireland Assembly elections.
The demise of Queen Elizabeth II will also be something of a catalyst for separatist sentiment. The actions of the British authorities will only stir them up now. Thus, London’s intention to withdraw from the deal with the EU on the Irish border, i.e. to actually restore the customs border between the two parts of Ireland, is seen in Northern Ireland as a return to the systematic separation of Northern Ireland from the Republic of Ireland, a policy that once led to civil confrontation.
As for Scotland, its inhabitants consider themselves simply deceived. In 2014, when Scotland held a referendum on independence, they were promised by the British authorities that the country would remain part of the European Union. This was partly why 55 percent of the population voted against independence, realizing that it would be very difficult for a breakaway country to rejoin the EU.
After that, however, Brexit happened, which 62% of the Scottish population voted against, and now Edinburgh is demanding permission from London to hold a new referendum. Neither Boris Johnson nor his successor, Liz Truss, is giving such permission – thus angering the ruling Scottish National Party even more.
And in this situation a person dies who for 70 years has represented the unity of the United Kingdom. “She was the center of stability in our lives, a consistency amid the general turmoil”, writes The Guardian. And she cannot be replaced in that role by Charles III with his background which deprives the United Kingdom of its royal core. “Scots have always been quite cold to the monarchy, and without the Queen, the ties that have bound the United Kingdom together will weaken”, laments Britain’s The Times.
And, of course, Queen Elizabeth II will be sorely missed on the sidelines of British-European relations. The Liz Truss government is about to go into a clash with the European Union over the Brexit deal. And experts are already expecting tough responses from the EU, up to and including encouraging Scottish separatism. Elizabeth II was not involved in foreign policy, but she had enormous influence among European aristocratic families, which means she could have helped Liz Truss negotiate with Europe in some way. Now there will be no such an opportunity.