Top Welsh Professor Warns of Potential 'End of Britain Itself' Roger Awan-Scully Argues in His New Book That the Fragmentation of Britain's Politics Could Have Long- Term and Profound Consequences for the Future of This Country of Nations, Writes Political Editor David Williamson

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), April 7, 2018 | Go to article overview

Top Welsh Professor Warns of Potential 'End of Britain Itself' Roger Awan-Scully Argues in His New Book That the Fragmentation of Britain's Politics Could Have Long- Term and Profound Consequences for the Future of This Country of Nations, Writes Political Editor David Williamson


Byline: David Williamson

ONE of Wales' most prominent political experts warns in a new book that if present trends continue "the end of Britain itself" is a true possibility.

Professor Roger Awan-Scully, of Cardiff University's Wales Governance, argues that the "British state may have a limited lifespan".

His study suggests that a "genuinely British democratic politics is being hollowed out" as voters in the different nations grow disconnected from one another.

Last year's general election was the second in a row in which four different parties came first in each of the four parts of the UK in the latest indication that the country is becoming "an electorally disunited kingdom".

Writing in The End of British Party Politics? he warns: "The UK continues to elect representatives to a single parliament. But the shared debates, and sets of choices, that tie a political community together are increasingly rare.

"Indeed, in some respects the House of Commons increasingly resembles the European Parliament - whose members are all democratically chosen, but from a disconnected series of separate national electoral contests."

Prof Awan-Scully cautions that if trends continue this could lead to "mutual incomprehension". Officially unionist parties can contribute to this sense of fragmentation with "separate leaders and separate manifestos producing four sets of simultaneous choices".

Stressing the scale of what is at stake, he said: "Parties that believe in the union have to find a way of making the union viable in the long term."

The potential for an outright break-up of the UK was demonstrated in the 2014 Scottish independence referendum with 44.7% of voters backing leaving. The professor argues that Brexit could galvanise pro-independence forces.

He said: "Scotland in the last three and a half years has been asked to vote on its membership of two unions. It's voted in favour of remaining in both of them but now it's been put in the situation where it's been told effectively that you can at most stay in one of those unions.

"Scotland voted more overwhelmingly to stay in the EU than it did to stay in the UK. Particularly if the Brexit deal, or lack of deal, turns out to be pretty badly done I think you're just providing a great opportunity for the SNP and [supporters] of independence.

"It doesn't mean independence will happen but Scotland being dragged out of the European Union against its very clear will will [create] a long-term sense of justified grievance amongst many people."

Noting the close collaboration of the SNP-led Scottish Government with Labour Welsh Government to demand challenges to the flagship Brexit legislation going through Westminster, he said: "The way the UK government has handled the internal politics of Brexit where they've effectively created an alliance between a unionist Welsh Labour Government and an independence-minded Scottish Government is just testimony to how appallingly the internal politics of Brexit has been handled. …

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Top Welsh Professor Warns of Potential 'End of Britain Itself' Roger Awan-Scully Argues in His New Book That the Fragmentation of Britain's Politics Could Have Long- Term and Profound Consequences for the Future of This Country of Nations, Writes Political Editor David Williamson
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