The UK was created in 1801 after a 198 years of blood soaked history. In those 198 years there were five civil wars and long periods of civil unrest and vicious repression. Once the UK was established the 19th century saw further extended periods of unrest, which were tantamount to civil war. The 20th century brought Ireland’s partial independence recognising that Ireland was a colony and not an integral part of the UK. The UK has been a violent cauldron of competing interests, unlike the benign image UKIP and the political elite portray. 2014 sees an attempt at breaking the UK up with the Scottish Independence vote (September).
James the first became king of England and Scotland in 1603 on a ‘one king, two kingdoms’ basis. Scottish resistance to English pre- eminence expressed itself in five civil wars over the next 150 years* which culminated in the bloody suppression of the Scots at Culloden, 1746. The Scottish elite became a British elite from 1760. 1760 co-incidently (or not?) marked the beginning of the British Empire and world domination. Ireland was England’s first colony and Irish history is a catalogue of repression, mutual hatred, religious bigotry, looting and civil war. However the creation of the United Kingdom in 1801 brought into being the first free trade nation- state in the world. The UK embraced free trade free movement of labour and the free movement of capital. All three of which are key motifs of the EU today.
The 19th and 20th centuries were less spectacularly violent by the standards of the previous two centuries. There was an extended period of civil unrest in England, which lasted for 30 years**. The Irish rebelled throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries and were suppressed with exemplary brutality. The first break- up of the UK was in 1948 with Irish partition. This partition led to yet another civil war (1969- 97), which still rumbles on. Scotland’s more effete independence movement has taken a constitutional route with a campaign for a September 2014 ‘YES’ vote.
However violent, cruel and repressive the UK is as an economic model it is a beacon for others. European countries flocked to copy the UK with Italian Unification (1861) and Germany Unification (1871) being the best examples. The key economic element is the critical size of the internal market to give an economy critical mass. The UK invented globalisation and gigantic economic zones***. The economic world nowadays has only three significant participants: China, the EU and the USA. The UK is the prototype for demonstrating the centrifugal forces of a buoyant economy. Implicit in this economic truth is that the EU will eventually become a nation- state just as the three kingdoms became one nation in 1801. The Scots and Irish submitted to English pre- eminence because as Voltaire wittily put it, God is always on the side of the big battalions.”
The UK is the stellar example of a geo- political economic truth. It was the first and greatest free trade nation in world history. Critically harnessing the opportunities unleashed by promoting people’s economic self- interest and exploding onto the world stage. Within a century of the formation of the UK it had conquered the world dominating via trade and military power. The UK is the prototype for the EU and its history is deeply suggestive of the basic insanity of those who wish to leave the EU as a go-it-alone minnow in oceans filled with sharks.
*Twice in the 1640s, 1685, 1715 and 1745
** 1820- 50
*** The Sterling Area incorporated most of the Empire.