Nowadays it seems as if the concept “Independence” had spread over the world more than ever before and was in everybody’s mouth. TV and newspapers are echoing people’s will to reach their own competences in several areas without depending on a central government.
These days Scotland is on the news. On September, 18 the country of bagpipes hold the so called Referendum which claimed Scotland’s independence from its old enemy, England and the rest of nations comprising the U.K.
Two years ago Prime Minister David Cameron and the Scottish First Minister signed the “Edinburgh Agreement” where they placed the milestone for the Scottish Independence. Some people have called this search for autonomy, “the break of a family of Nations.” These nations were some time a kingdom and British History is an excellent reflection of this. Let’s then read what time tells about the U.K. History of union and disunion.
-Vth-XVIth centuries--- The two islands of Ireland and Great Britain were divided into four territories or nations (Kingdom of England, Wales, Kingdom of Scotland and Kingdom of Ireland).
-In 1535 England and Wales joined. Between 1535 and 1542 the Tudor Dynasty (from a Welsh origin) introduced the English law in Wales and ended in annexing the territory to England.
-In 1707 England and Scotland joined. They had shared the same king from 1603, signed the Union Act which ended up in the United Kingdom of Great Britain. The Scottish Parliament broke up.
-In 1801 Ireland joined England. The kingdom of Ireland depended on Great Britain and now the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was born.
-In 1922 Ireland was split up into two: the free Eire in the south of the island became independent, while the north counties (Ulster) were still part of the United Kingdom. Nowadays, we talk about the UK of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
-From 1998 the UK started a process where all its nations, except for England, have got back their Parliaments and own competences.
SO, nowadays, we can talk about:
THE UK OF GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND vs THE REPUBLIC OF IRELAND (Free Eire)
It also meant the constitution of a flag…
1707: the formation of the Union Jack (England and Scotland making up the kingdom of Great Britain)
1801: the kingdom of Ireland joins the kingdom of GB making the UK.
1922: Ireland separates from the UK (Ireland secession) but the colours of the Union Jack remain unchanged because Northern Ireland remains attached to the U.K.
What would have happened if the YES votes had won the Referendum?
- The loss of the British pound since if it had remained as the national coin, some power should have been given to London.
- Immediate exit from the European Union. Otherwise, its admission into the European Union would have been left in the hands of the rest of EU members.
-The main banks would have fled from Scotland and the main stock markets would have rejected to work for the nation.
What are the current competences in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?
In 1998 the U.K. carried out a devolution process in which all nations, except for England, were given back their Parliaments. Now then, its nation has its own competences in several areas:
SCOTLAND: its Parliament was restored in 1998. Its current competences are: health, education, social services, living, financial local development, tourism, transport, environment, culture, politics and justice.
WALES: its Assembly was created in 1999. Its current competences are: agriculture, health, education, living, social services, tourism, environment, financial local development, culture and language, among others.
NORTHERN IRELAND: its Parliament was created in 1920 and dissolved in 1973. Its Assembly was restored in 1998. Its current competences are conveyed to health, agriculture, employment, social services, living, tourism, environment, culture, police and justice.