National Identity - Who Are We?
| 12 December 2016

The European Union? The United Kingdom? England? Who are we? In recent weeks the topic of Scottish independence and independence from the European Union has been rigorously debated. Should Scotland be part of the UK? Should the UK be part of The European Union? Or should England and Wales stand alone on the global stage? There are undoubtedly advantages to both leaving the European Union and maintaining our current position. The million dollar question is: which outweighs the other? If we stay in the 'club', we stay members of the biggest economic power in the world, effectively using our membership as a megaphone to grab the attention of superpowers such as the US and China. As a part of the European Union we force these big players to listen to us, providing a platform to join the economic giants’ discussions.


However, there are also advantages to leaving Europe. Independence from Europe allows the UK to regulate and govern itself entirely. Current European pollutant regulations drive up the costs of energy within the UK. With energy making up 40% of the costs of manufacturing, the prices of British manufactured goods such as steel lose their international competitiveness. All the while China, India and the US have cut their energy costs by over 50% through non-regulated means of energy production. With UK CO2 emissions standing at under 2% of global contributions, there seems little benefit to handicapping UK manufacturing whilst the major contributors continue to obtain energy, unrestricted by regulations.


This is just one of many arguments for both leaving and staying within the European Union, and with arguments for both sides, no one person has the true answer, just as no one person has the answer to which party should be in power. So how do we decide which party should be in power? We vote. If we can trust British citizens to elect its political leaders, we can trust them to vote on such an important issue too.


Regarding Scottish independence, the interesting point for me is how the topic is always put forward: 'Does Scotland want to be part of the UK?' or 'Will Scotland choose to vote for independence?' The question is never phrased the other way around: 'Does the UK wish to be independent from Scotland?' Nevertheless, it is clear that Scotland becoming independent would not be in the best wishes of the UK, nor in Scotland's best interests. I see Scotland and the rest of the UK as siblings, with petty hate on the outside, yet strong deep rooted love underneath the surface. Siblings argue and fight and threaten to 'leave home' yet both know the best thing to do would be to stay put as a unified family. Economically both parties would suffer from Scottish independence, highlighted clearly by the overwhelming opinions of major Scottish businesses, in addition to the fact that England and Wales benefit hugely from the vast resources in Scotland, such as their oil reserves in the North Sea.


Overall, with the economic positives and negatives to Scottish independence and independence from Europe, the question remains, 'Who are we?'. Are we European, are we British, or are we English? Let the people vote on who they are.

James Routledge 2016