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What hope for the United Kingdom - by Ruth Davidson for Unherd

With so much else going on, former Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson reminds us all of the on-going constitutional crisis still bubbling under the surface of the UK’s constitution.

Her focus here however, is not on Scotland, but Northern Ireland. The failure of the English media to report on the implications of Brexit for the Province was she says ‘a disgrace’ with profound implications for the UK as a whole:

"All those 1.8 million lives, hundreds of businesses and millions of pounds worth of trade upturned — without discussion, dissection or negotiation, until after the fact. The imperfect patching currently underway won’t mend this constitutional tear.

A mega poll of more than 3,000 voters by Lord Ashcroft, published last week, shows the Irish Nationalists, Sinn Fein, winning the next Northern Irish election at a canter — and most people in Ulster believing that a border poll in 10 years’ time would deliver a united Ireland. It is not an outlier.

Perhaps our gaze needs to shift from Scotland — where even the sustained, bellicose sabre-rattling of our First Minister has seen her move not an inch closer to securing a second referendum in her seven years of leadership — to our neighbours across the Irish Sea. New and resurgent political parties and movements, along with the great disruptor of Brexit, mixed with some good old-fashioned political regicide, has created all the ingredients for a generational shift.”

The man to help save the Union is someone most of us have never heard of. Enter, stage left, the newly elected leader of the Ulster Unionists, Doug Beattie:

“Born in barracks, the son of a soldier, he suffered childhood trauma when he accidentally shot a friend in the head with his father’s service weapon. At 16, he joined up as a boy soldier, rising through the ranks to become regimental sergeant major, and later commissioned as an officer. In Afghanistan, he was awarded the Military Cross for retaking a town from the Taliban.

There is an earthiness about the man, and a wicked humour. He passes the “pub test”, of whether voters would want to go for a drink with him, with ease — not least because he sends out plenty of pictures of himself on social media enjoying a pint of Guinness or large dram of good malt whisky. Commenting on an internal squabble between DUP MP Sammy Wilson and party leader Jeffrey Donaldson last week, he suggested a “bare belly fight to sort it out”.

He has the highest approval ratings of any political leader in the country. And yet he is practically ignored by a UK political press happy to dissect every word, action, belief or motivation if the source is Keir Starmer or Boris Johnson.

But, still, Doug Beattie is the man, quite probably, who will save the Union.”

The full article can be read here with a link to the original beneath it:

Article by Ruth Davidson for Unhert - What hope for the United Kingdom 30.12.21
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