It’s rare for two people to say things that are obvious, true and contradictory, but that’s what’s happened here:
Scots will no longer be British if their country votes to leave the United Kingdom, Labour leader Ed Miliband has warned in a keynote speech on national identity.
Miliband insisted that leaving the union would mean that Scottish people would lose their British identity – challenging the argument put forward by the Scottish Nationalists, who have insisted that Scottish people would continue to be British in a geographical sense.
Look, the geography gets a bit complicated, so let’s break it down:
- “Great Britain” is the name of the big island that England, Scotland and Wales are on.
- The country that occupies this island and a few nearby bits (most notably Northern Ireland) is called “The United Kingdom Of Great Britain And Northern Ireland” and is long enough already without adding “Except Scotland”.
- The “British Islands”, apparently, is the UK plus some other, distinct states that the Queen is also head of.
- The “British Isles” is every damn rock between Iceland and France.
So yes, Scotland will remain British, because it’s part of Britain. But it won’t be part of Britain any more so it won’t be British, really.
I would dearly love to know what Ed Miliband thinks will happen if we vote to “leave Europe”. I’m picturing an army of tugboats, or drills to perforate the tectonic plate along the Channel.