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A new story about Europe: UK or each of the 4 Nations?
2 November 2021, 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Brexit has shaken the foundations of the United Kingdom. Constitutional issues are high on the agenda across the four nations.
In Scotland, the UK’s departure from the EU has fuelled the independence flame. The Northern Ireland Protocol is destabilising the region. Support for an independent Wales is polling at record highs.
On top of this, the Covid pandemic has made many acutely more aware of legislative and political differences in the UK, and shown that there are alternatives to Johnson’s methods – alternatives which many see as preferable. And recent polling shows that there is strong support across the UK for a closer relationship with the EU.
In relation to Europe, the last Welsh and Scottish governments were significantly more constructive and amicable in their dealings with the EU than the UK government, often taking opposing positions to Westminster on key issues and seeking to build bridges rather than erect barriers.
In turn, the Internal Market Act, in the eyes of many, seeks to use Brexit as an excuse to re-centralise powers in London and undermine devolution.
In the midst of all this, is there a story about a future relationship with the EU that could serve all the parts of the UK? Is a shared European narrative for the four nations of the United Kingdom possible, or have politics and public opinion shifted so much in the last five years that no single story can satisfy its parts?
What impact might the prospect of changes in the constitutional arrangements of the UK have on our messaging about Europe? Could a pro-European narrative be constructed that appeals to all sides?
And the most important questions for us: what does all this mean for those who believe in a closer relationship with Europe and the EU? And how should these considerations affect the way we campaign, the way we talk about Brexit and its impacts, and the story we tell about Europe?