For my final project, I wanted to focus on a contemporary issue as my other COR class focused on more of a historical topic. I chose to focus this project on the current situation with the United Kingdom. I focused on the historical, sociological, and economic factors that differentiate the countries within the United Kingdom, mainly focusing on the differences between England and Scotland.
The United Kingdom itself is comprised of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. From a historical standpoint, England has been the political and economic hub ruling over the rest of the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom was first established in March of 1603 when Queen Elizabeth I died and King James IV of Scotland assumed the throne. This formation of the United Kingdom came as a consequence of a marriage over a hundred years between English and Scottish royals. This created the first movement of a United British Identity that is relevant in today’s political climate surrounding the national identity of those who see themselves as British and those who don’t.
Currently the United Kingdom’s seat of power is in London with representatives from England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, the majority being English. The United Kingdom Parliament was a result of the English and Scottish Parliaments voting to dissolve themselves and create one united parliament. This is important, because these 4 countries are tied together by one single body of government at the federal level.
The issues that revolve around the current United Kingdom stem from the recent vote to separate from the European Union. The vote to leave was won by a slim 51.9% to 48.1% margin with a pretty clear divide on counties that wanted to separate. The majority of England and Wales voted to leave while the majority of Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain in the European Union. This is the start of the political divide between England and the rest of the UK. The Scottish have a different mindset when it comes to what it means to keep national identity and have a very different political history than England.
The Scottish people have two, arguably three national identities that they have adopted. They first Scottish, or residence of Scotland with a rich Scottish history that is different from English cultural history. The Scots are also British, and have been for a long time. They see themselves as Scottish and British and those two do not conflict with each other (Open Democracy). The third identity they have also adopted is being European in the sense of a united European identity. By looking at history it is easy to see why the Scots have been able to stomach and even enjoy having multiple labels attached to their identity.
There are many other contributing factors that are brought up in the full text of my paper, but this a general basis that outlines the political divide within the United Kingdom. Scotland wishes to remain within the European Union and has mentioned that there is a plan to accomplish this without being in the United Kingdom. Many sources speculate that Scotland would never leave the United Kingdom, but the sources are so divided it is hard to tell which way this scenario will go.