Britain 's Changing Sovereignty Of The United Kingdom

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Britain’s changing sovereignty Many issues currently occupy the British consciousness, from immigration to economics to ISIS. However, one of the more abstract topics that dominates Britain’s contemporary politics is its national identity: on one hand, the UK’s constituent coun-tries are pulling for more individual sovereignty, while on the other, many worry the European Union is vying for more control over its member states, including Britain. While the United Kingdom’s status quo just a few decades ago was one of strong unitary government, it is being pulled more toward de facto federalism in both directions: to one extreme it could become a federal state of four countries, and to the other it could be-come a part of a federal Europe. A federal Britain: the West Lothian question In the early morning of 19 September 2014, it was revealed that the majority of the Scottish electorate had voted to remain a part of the United Kingdom (“Now”). How-ever, in their negotiations, the UK government in Westminster, London promised Scot-land further devolution of powers, to an unprecedented level (“Scottish referendum”). This devolution sparked a newfound interest in the decades-old West Lothian question. The West Lothian question was first raised in the 1970s during a debate over Scottish devolution. When a devolved parliament in Scotland was first proposed, the Member of Parliament from West Lothian, a county bordering Edinburgh, raised a per-ceived inequality in the arrangement (Carrell): if English (and Welsh and Northern Irish) MPs would no longer be able to vote on Scottish policy, why should Scottish MPs be able to vote on English matters? This question lay dormant for decades after Scottish devolu-tion was halted by Margaret Thatcher... ... middle of paper ... ...oks). Incoming First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon believes it would be un-democratic for Scotland to be forced out of the Union because of English opinions, and has called for each constituent country of the UK to receive veto power over a referen-dum (Brooks). This veto power would be unprecedented federalism in Britain (“The Guardian”): granting provincial vetoes would make the UK would look less like the uni-tary government of the twentieth century and more like the US under the Articles of Confederation. While an EU referendum in 2017 is likely, it will no doubt be a divisive issue in British politics. Further questions remain over what the UK will look like if it does leave the EU. Will it be set on the left or the right’s course for an EU-less Britain? And will the referendum be the force that finally turns Scottish public opinion toward support of in-dependence?

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