Not Very Permeable

Colin Kidd

  • The Marches: Border Walks with My Father by Rory Stewart
    Cape, 351 pp, £18.99, October 2016, ISBN 978 0 224 09768 0

Last June’s xenophobic campaign and the Brexit vote that followed have left Scots – even the most unionist – estranged from the idea of Britain. In the months before the independence referendum of 2014, a large body of undecided Scots, while alienated from the Englishness of Toryism, the Home Counties and the City, still felt torn between a sense of solidarity with ordinary working people in the North of England and a desire to create an independent Scandinavian-style state. Some of those voters stuck with the Union; others – though still nostalgically attached to British ideals of social democracy – took a chance on independence. But Brexit, ironically, has expunged the notion that a British nation with a common set of values exists north and south of the border. England now seems foreign, a country that espouses the anti-EU and anti-immigrant values once associated with Enoch Powell. The Anglo-Scottish Union survives, for the moment, because, with oil prices low, an independent Scotland divorced from the English economy would be unable to sustain much in the way of a welfare state. Nevertheless, Britishness is shrivelling. Enoch-land repels.

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