While coronavirus has pushed Brexit to the backs of many minds and turned what's left in my head to mush, the last few years have been dominated by hand-wringing over the UK's fate in the European Union. For those of us from Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland, however, the issue hasn't just been navigating our way out of the EU, but exploring independence from England too.
As a woman raised in the Welsh Valleys, everything from the deepest Yes Cymru discourse to meme accounts like Welsh Independence Memes for Angry Welsh Teens fans the flames of anti-English passion instilled in me since birth – but the daily news has been doing a good job of things too lately.
The last few weeks of Westminster's shit-show handling of Covid-19 – including stealing PPE from Scotland and Wales, and issuing advice (Stay Alert, anyone?) that was dismissed by every devolved government – has made it clear that the problem with the UK isn’t that the union doesn’t work, but that the English government is a self-prioritising, self important, steaming pile of shit. It is time, as historian David Edgerton suggested back in January, for "the short-lived fantasy of the 'British nation'" to "finally meet its end".
With this undebatable fact in mind, it's time for the shat-upon citizens of the UK to consider joining forces, yeet England into a solo future and form a United Celtic Republic comprised of Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, Isle of Man, Brittany and a United Ireland. Basically, a Great Britain comprised of all the great bits. If the reasons above don't convince you of this stellar concept, let the points below prove its worth.
1. SCOTLAND ALMOST ESCAPED ALREADY
Although the Scottish Referendum was only six years ago, it feels like a lifetime since the country took a stand against Westminster decision-making. Yes Scotland led a long fight against the union with England, which has held the country back since its inception, but unfortunately for them – and my aspirations for the future – Scotland remained in the United Kingdom and many lost hope in the prospect of leaving the UK.
In the years since, campaigners for Yes Scotland have been arguing for another referendum to let the country try another break at freedom – one that would likely be more successful, as many of the old bastards who voted "No" in 2014 are now dead. If Scotland would fare better without England, so would the rest of us. Especially if we were all in it together.
2. 16 AND 17-YEAR OLDS HAVE THE RIGHT TO VOTE IN SCOTLAND AND WALES
As of the 1st of June this year, 16 and 17-year-olds can vote in Wales. The victory follows Scotland's decision to lower the voting age to 16 in 2013, in time for the referendum. That means the voting age in the UK is now split down the middle, with half the countries setting it at 16 and the other half stuck on 18. It also means that 16 and 17-year-olds in Wales and Scotland can elect MPs to the House of Commons, but they can't elect a Prime Minister, which is stupid. Lower the fucking voting age, arseholes, or set us free.
3. WE ALL KNOW WHAT IT’S LIKE TO SUFFER UNDER ENGLAND
If you haven’t listened to "As Long as We Beat the English" by Stereophonics, you haven’t lived. Its overarching message of "fuck England" is one that resonates with all who have suffered badly under England's rule. Please listen to it on repeat while you read on, because its sentiment is what unites us.
Siôn Jobbins, chair of YesCymru, feels that the common ground of being shunted by Westminster could lead to a future in which the devolved nations galvanise one another. "An independent Wales, Scotland and Ireland, cooperating and sometimes working as a block to enhance our strengths, is totally feasible and in fact desirable," he tells me. "Ireland has lessons to teach Wales in the way it's picked itself up from the shadow of a dominant Westminster and cut its own cloth in the world. Wales is inspired by it, and by Scotland too, and there are also things which Wales has excelled at and we can share with our Celtic cousins."
Speaking of which, if any part of England needs to be freed from the monarchistic state, it's the Cornish peninsula. In case you didn't know, Cornwall was a Celtic nation in its own right before England took over, assimilated their countrymen and, to this day, decided to metaphorically rob the graves of its people: when a Cornish person dies without a will or next of kin, their possessions and wealth automatically go to Prince Charles, which is just insane, leading to our fourth and final point...
4. FUCK ENGLAND
After robbing our Celtic countries of their cultures and languages with the promise of being "better together", the phenomenal failure of delivering an EU exit – which was voted against by Scotland and Northern Ireland in the first place – and now the chaos of Covid-19 has made independence from England an even more attractive prospect.
In a world without a lethal virus or Brexit, there's sill a major case to be made for chiseling ourselves off from England. The UK continues to leave Welsh communities suffering from chronic poverty and outdated public transport infrastructure, while Scottish votes always contrast with England but make little impact in Westminster, and Northern Ireland is so alien to most Westminster MPs that they barely give a passing thought to whether their policies breach the Good Friday agreement.
Jobbins affirms my anti-Westminster spirit: "It makes a lot of sense for three comparatively small nations on the fringes of Europe to cooperate and to counterbalance the sometimes imperial delusion and hubris of Westminster foreign and domestic policy," he says. "More and more people are seeing that Westminster isn't the 'mother of Parliaments' – it's just the world's best gentlemen's club, and the more quietly spoken, lest boastful Celtic parliaments are actually more sensible and more honest about their place in the world."
Amid all the errors passed on to us by Westminster, the Celts have resolutely ignored the worst advice and created our own solutions for fighting corona's effect on the world (see: Scotland and Wales' decision to ban Covid-19 support to businesses based in tax havens). A further example that the governments best suited to run these countries are, shockingly, their own.
England, you are the weakest link. Goodbye.