Future of the Union
Too often, the case for the United Kingdom relies on nostalgia. A modern argument for the Union cannot rely on our memories of past achievements and sacrifices, however heroic. It must be remade, constantly.
To that end, Policy Exchange is delighted to host a new project entitled “Future of the Union” – a series of essays and blogs in this space that set out a fresh, positive, case for the UK in the years ahead. We intend to spell out how the Union can be a force for good in some of the key challenges we face – from climate change to global security. And we will spell out why the break-up of the Union would set us back.
A fresh, progressive case for the Union must be made. Our “Future of the Union” project sets out how to do it.
Unleashing the power of the Union – ideas for new leadership
The State of the Union is a new paper by renowned historian Professor Arthur Aughey, of Ulster University, in which he says by any comparative international standards, the Union has proved both successful and durable as an arrangement of state. When placed in the broadest international context, the United Kingdom can sometimes look like an oddity. But the Union on which it is predicated is a remarkably enduring constitutional arrangement and a surprisingly cohesive national state.
Not a vote has yet been cast in the Scottish Parliament elections, scheduled for May 5th. So confident that a nationalist majority is already in the bag, however, the pro-independence campaign is already planning life after victory. An 11-point plan has been published on how to take forward a referendum. We are told that the as yet un-won majority the SNP expects to win will be evidence of Scotland’s desire to leave the United Kingdom. It shows – or will do, once it happens – that Scots want another referendum immediately. The SNP contend will be a democratic outrage if a British Prime Minister refuses to agree to one.
For many watching, the inauguration of Joe Biden was a moving experience. The COVID crisis has been an unsettling reminder of the fragility of humanity. And with the shocking, lawless scenes of rioters storming the Capitol fresh in the memory, when democracy itself seemed in peril, the 46th US President’s theme of unity offered the uplifting prospect of better times just around the corner. “With unity we can do great things” he promised.
The Government this week published a Command Paper, setting out its approach to implementing the Northern Ireland Protocol in the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement.
The Protocol gives Northern Ireland a special economic status – within the UK’s customs territory, but in regulatory alignment with the EU single market for goods. The Protocol also requires provisions to be put in place to ensure that goods “at risk” of entering the EU single market via the land border with the Republic of Ireland are subject to the correct checks and controls. The continuation of the Protocol is subject to the ongoing consent of the Northern Ireland Assembly after four years.
“Some attention has been given post-election to the Conservative plans for a constitutional commission. But less focus has been given to the significant plans being put together for a re-servicing of the Union. The Policy Exchange think-tank has called for ‘a Grand Strategy to modernise the United Kingdom.’ This is an activist Unionism of a kind only glimpsed before.”
- Tuesday, 26 September, 2017
8:30 - 9:30
Speakers: Paul Sweeney MP, Shadow Minister for Scotland, Professor Lindsay Stirton, Professor of Public Law, University of Sussex, Rebecca Lowe, Fellow, State & Society, Policy Exchange. This event took place at the Labour party conference.
Venue: Labour Party Conference