The British crossroad Alfredo Crespo Alcázar es doctor por la Universidad Rey Juan Carlos de Madrid

14/11/2016

Almost five months after the holding of the referendum that had the Brexit as a result, the British landscape hosts more questions than precise answers. However, amid the uncertainty, some facts, the repercussion of which has not occurred yet, stand out.

The main one concerns the government of the Conservative Party and the Prime Minister, Theresa May. She has left her pragmatic approach of the EU behind, on the basis of which she voted to continue in the mentioned organization on January 23, to assume the speech of those members of her Cabinet (David Davis, Boris Johnson or Liam Fox) that endorse the Brexit in a more forceful way. Hence, issues related to the duality immigration/sovereignty shall take precedence over the strictly trade ones in the upcoming negotiation with the EU.

The latter does not mean that the Tory government has shifted towards protectionist positions in the economic area. On the other hand, the actual reason is rooted in the vision of the United Kingdom that the Brexiters spread around before and after the referendum on June 23, based on which the economic and military power, as well as its presence in organizations such as the NATO or the UN, would be a guarantee that the United Kingdom would be a global lead actor instead of a supporting one once they abandoned the EU. Consistent with this perspective, the (trade) relationship with the EU would become another alternative, but never the main one. The recent visit of May to the India and the meeting of Hammond with the Chinese Deputy Prime Minister, Ma Kai, are proof of it.

This overview that predominates in the interventions of May collides head-on with the ideas of a broad field of Tories, Labour, and Liberal and from the Scottish National Party representatives. Each one of them will make his demands in a different way, but if it is the Parliament which finally votes to determine how will the leaving of the EU be carried out, as is required by the recent ruling of the High Court of London, the British government will probably have to moderate the script that it had traced (something that it does not consider, since it is going to appeal against the mentioned ruling) in order to accommodate certain matters, the space of which they want to restrict

Leaving aside the ruling of the High Court of London, the strategy followed by Theresa May so far has aroused some transcendental effects. The Prime Minister, aware of the approaching times of uncertainty, has enhanced a speech in which the domestic dimension holds the highest hierarchy, emphasizing a greater Government involvement supporting society and renouncing to develop policies that can recall of the years of Thatcherism. In other words: it pursues the centre ground, a concept that has guided the modus operandi of the Tories during some phases of History (specially the period 1945 – 1975), but which does not enjoy the approval of all of the ideological families that integrate the Conservative Party.

Nevertheless, at the very least in the short term, this defense of interventionism has indirectly produced two positive consequences for the current British government. First of all, it has relieved any possible influence among the electorate of the left-wing programme that Jeremy Corbyn hoists. Secondly, insisting on the role of the Government in favour of the resolution of the citizens’ problems may have had an impact in a “hostile” scenario as it is Scotland for the Tories. However, after June 23 there has not been an increase of the striving for independence nor the wish to hold a consultation like the one held on September 18, 2014.

The Scottish voter, even the secessionist, also knows that in a period like the present, the secessionist vagaries would jeopardize his security, stability and welfare, aspects that the British government is currently more capable of ensuring than the Scottish government. Accordingly, simple pragmatism away from any claim for unionism.

However, the Scottish National Party rejects the strategy designed by Theresa May to consummate the leaving of the EU. The discrepancies between London and Edinburgh will increase in the weeks ahead, since the devolved administrations (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, where the Tories are not in power) will be simply “listened” in the Brexit negotiations, but the final policy will be decided by the British government.

In essence, the whole (United Kingdom) will overlap the particular interests of the parts (the integrant nations), based essentially on the unrestricted access to the Single Market. An intervention of this nature will increase the exchange of reproaches and may promote a division that not even the own Conservative Party would escape.

Translated into English by Clara Ayuso