In his recent blog http://www.progressivepulse.org/brexit/the-state-of-the-unions-between-england-scotland-and-northern-ireland my fellow PP blogger, Sean Danaher, makes his usual excellent dissection of recent polls on the subject of Brexit and the way this may impact relations between the various countries of the UK and Ireland, and specifically the potential for creating opportunities for a united Ireland and independent Scotland. Sean also poses the possiblity of a slide towards fascism and a right wing coup in the wake of Brexit.
Assuming we crash out of the EU in March next year – which seems extremely likely (the current attitude of May and her Brexit extremists seems to be akin to the charge of the Light Brigade and we all know that didn’t end well) – it will take the rest of 2019 before companies like Airbus – who now at least have had the courage to come out and say they may well leave – make firm decisions to quit the UK.
Then there’ll be a period of scaling back and gradual withdrawral which will take several years, against which we can expect the government to try to put in place all sorts of special measures to stop or slow this happening, and then alleviate the impact (in short, buying organisations and the public off). In this endevour we can expect the government to be fully supported by the Brexit supporting press, who will also of course blame everything on the EU while hyping to the heavens any ‘jam tomorrow’ scenarios they and the government can construct (i.e. short term suffering will be worth it in the end).
However, we also need to throw into the mix an election pending in 2022. I suspect that if we have economic upheaval combined with emerging social unrest – or even the obvious sniff of both – politics may take a nasty turn. Personally I doubt there’ll be a right wing coup in the form that we normally understand that term. My reason for saying that is that the degree of hegemony enjoyed by the Tory party and its associated entities (e.g. so called ‘think tanks’), supporting media and other institutions (i.e. the ‘Right’ in general) in the UK is such that a call for a ‘national government’ and the suspension of the 2022 elections will be sufficient (I accept that many people might see this as a form of coup, of course). Given what we saw in 2010 I think it highly likely the majority of the public will go along with that and they will be aided in coming to this conclusion – and then maintaining it – by the Brexit supporting/right wing media – including I have to say (sadly) the BBC.
It’s at that point – at some point mid or later in 2020 – that it’s likely the Scotish independence and UI issues may really get going. But let’s be clear, they will be stamped on – and hard. And if we already have a national government in place I wouldn’t be at all surprised if actions aren’t taken under the slogan ‘national solidarity’ or ‘unity’ or something similar, to suspend the powers of the Scotish government (Stormont is of course much easier to deal with).
We could hypothesise further into the future, of course, but stopping at a scenario that is entirely plausible for mid/late 2020 is sensible, not least because the reactions to this and subsequent developments and their interplay become so complex that they are impossible to predict (although we could spend many a happy hour building numeous scenarios, which government emergency planners will no doubt begin doing in 2019).
Overall there’s no doubt that Brexit has already redefined what the UK is – its identify and standing in the world, and its culture and social and economic life, which includes our politics, of course. There’s no doubt this is the new ‘normal’ and the normal is going to get even more extreme and polarised over the next few years. But there will be no anti Brexit or any other kind of “revolution” – just as there never was at the time of the Great Depression, or at other times in history when other countries and continents were undergoing significant change. And there will be no right wing “coup” either. There’s simply no need for it. Then, as now, this country was under a degree of hegemonic control by the “ruling classes” (call them elites if you want) that other countries can only dream of and have spent years and billions of dollars trying to replicate (witness contemporary Russia and China).
This does not mean that things – situations, relations, practices, conventions, institutions, etc – don’t change over time. Accomodations are made, compromises reached, new lines drawn in the sand, as it were. Or, as Gramsci put it, that the ‘leading group should make sacrifices’. These incremental and ongoing ‘sacrifices’ are what so many of us believe signal progress is being made (assuming you are a progressive), or that the right/neoliberalism is in retreat, and so on. But Gramsci was also clear that these ‘sacrifices’ and ‘compromises’ were never allowed to substantially or significantly alter the essential, underlying, positions of power, and control of the mechanisms which create and maintain hegemony.
With regard to Brexit and what follows make of that what you will.
Ref: Antonio Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks. Translated and edited by: Hoare, Q. & Nowell- Smith, G. (1971).