LONDON: Talk of divorce is clouding the anniversary this coming week of the union between England and Scotland.
Finance minister Gordon Brown, tipped to become the next British prime minister, warned against a “Balkanisation of Britain” beset by separatist leanings within not only its national but also its new immigrant communities.
Such sentiments have long stirred in Scotland and Wales as well as in the complex sectarian case of Northern Ireland but they are now spreading to England, the union’s political and economic anchor.
With soccer long a barometer of national sentiments, England team fans have in the last decade caught up with the Scots and Welsh by dropping the Union flag in favour of their own national banner at all international games. And in the last few months, at least two opinion polls have shown majorities in both Scotland and England backing independence.
University of Hull politics lecturer Simon Hull said that he believes that the United Kingdom of Great Britan and Northern Ireland is nearing the Rubicon on the way to breakup, possibly within a decade.
“I think it’s going to come a lot sooner than people imagine,” Hill said. However, he said it would resemble more the “velvet divorce” of Czechoslovakia, rather than a violent Balkan-style meltdown.
Brown to visit to India: Gordon Brown, who is widely expected to take over as PM after Tony Blair steps down later this year, will visit India from Wednesday to have a first hand glimpse of the growing economic might of the country.