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The union is dying, and Boris Johnson’s One Nation Conservatism can’t save it

For all his talk of the ‘awesome foursome’, the prime minister cannot prevent the inevitable

Mary Dejevsky
Friday 03 January 2020 00:35 GMT
Nicola Sturgeoun greets Scotland's SNP MPs in Dundee and sends Boris Johnson a warning on independence

Among the many unintended consequences of David Cameron’s decision to call the 2016 referendum on EU membership, the most significant – even more significant perhaps than the Leave victory itself – has been the threat to the union. Assumed to be safe after the Scottish independence referendum the year before, the integrity of the United Kingdom is now at greater risk than it has ever been. It is hard to see how the UK can survive another generation intact.

The danger is not lost on Boris Johnson, whose party still calls itself Conservative and Unionist. In the Queen’s Speech that followed his election landslide, the future of the union was the second point after the pledge to enact Brexit. “The integrity and prosperity of the United Kingdom is of the utmost importance to my government,” the Queen intoned.

In his introduction to the Conservative election manifesto, Johnson wrote in characteristically bullish style: “We will defend and protect our United Kingdom – the awesome foursome that make up the most successful political partnership in history.” The manifesto itself set out some of the ways he hoped to do this, all of which boiled down to throwing money at the problem.

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