British Prime Minister Theresa May willingness to allow Northern Ireland to maintain relations with the European Union by abiding with its rules and standards after the United Kingdom leaves the bloc has raised the possibility of a mutiny instigated by disgruntled regional leaders.
Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland and leader of its Scottish National Party, tweeted that concessions made on behalf of one region should benefit the rest as well:
“If one part of U.K. can retain regulatory alignment with EU and effectively stay in the single market (which is the right solution for Northern Ireland) there is surely no good practical reason why others can’t.”
Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, swiftly followed with his own statement:
“Huge ramifications for London if Theresa May has conceded that it’s possible for part of the U.K. to remain within the single market & customs union after Brexit. Londoners overwhelmingly voted to remain in the EU and a similar deal here could protect tens of thousands of jobs.”
Arlene Foster of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) from whom May relies for support in Parliament apparently does not share the view of the Prime Minister:
“The Democratic Unionist Party won’t accept any form of regulatory divergence which separates Northern Ireland economically or politically from the rest of the United Kingdom.”
Foster’s statement appeared to have made an impression on May who cancelled an important lunch meeting with European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker and clarify her position to the DUP representative in an effort to avert a mutiny.
May’s decision to negotiate concessions for Northern Ireland also triggered a pointed response from Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones who believes everyone should be treated as co-equals:
“We cannot allow different parts of the U.K. to be more favourably treated than others. If one part of the U.K. is granted continued participation in the Single Market & Customs Union, then we fully expect to be made the same offer.”
While the entire nation of the United Kingdom voted unanimously to leave the European Union, Brexit did not reflect the sentiment of London and Scotland which opted to remain in the bloc.
London appears to lose the most from Brexit as its financial industry may have to relocate in the continent.
As for Ireland, Brexit opens up the possibility of reviving its violent and bloody past and sentiments of religious hatred.
The Good Friday Agreement which put an end to decades of fighting between the north and south of Ireland is contingent upon the understanding that both regions are “partners in the European Union” and sharing in the benefits of a single market.
The challenge for May is to facilitate a post-Brexit deal that would maintain trade agreements beneficial to the regions without agreeing to concessions perceived by hard-line Brexiteers as contradictory to their call for a return of national sovereignty.