There is pressure for independence in Ireland and in Scotland and a radical redrawing of Parliamentary Constituency boundaries is in progress. What will the UK look like in ten years time?
The Parliamentary Constituences Bill 2020-21 is about to become law. This allows the Boundary Commissions to produce a map of Constituency boundaries every eight years, the first set of changes will be ready for the 2024 election. This boundary review is overdue and might have been implemented in 2016 had the EU Referendum not thrown UK politics into disarray. The 650 new constituencies will have about 70,000 voters in each. The previous boundaries gave Labour a considerable advantage in elections because they included many small, urban constituences; when this unfairness is corrected the new boundaries are likely to give the Conservatives about 21 extra seats.
The Good Friday Agreement states clearly that when a majority in Northern Ireland favour Irish unification there should be a Referendum called a Border Poll. Michael Martin, the Taoiseach of the Republic of Ireland, has recently stated that there will be no Border Poll in Northern Ireland for five years. This makes sense because at present there are equal numbers in the North for and against the unification of Ireland. There are more people of Catholic affiliation among the young and these also have pro-EU views so the demography inexorably favours unification. Given current trends there will be a clear majority for Irish unification after 2025.
Scottish nationalism is on the rise. It has been blamed on the vote for British independence in the EU Referendum but the roots are far older. The Scottish electorate are mostly communitarian and voted socialist before they began to support the SNP in large numbers. England has a large libertarian population and this political difference between England and Scotland has always been a source of disagreement. The Scottish support for the EU was just the latest example of this deep seated divide. The opinion polls are now showing clear support for independence:
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The present UK Government has ruled out any Scottish Independence Referendum but after 2024 the pressure will grow if the SNP continue to be dominant in Scotland and if the opinion polls continue to favour Scottish Independence.
Very few countries voluntarily disintegrate and most have laws that treat secession as treason. The UK has permitted this disintegration partly as a result of the committment of its Corporate Elite to the EU ("we will all be regions of the EU in 20 years time") and partly as a result of the libertarian politics of England ("if they want to go they can go").
The next election in 2024 will focus on these issues. The Boundary Commission changes may well give the Conservatives another majority but this will have no effect on the position in Northern Ireland. The current UK Government might factor-in the loss of Northern Ireland in any negotiations with the EU. Another Conservative Government in 2024 will affect Scotland which will then need to wait until 2028-29 until any Referendum and no-one can really foresee what will occur in 2030 or later.