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9 March 2012

England and Scotland

On a strict definition, the Anglosphere consists of six countries – the United States, the United Kingdom, The Republic of Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Of course, before long there may be a seventh: an independent Scotland.

Much attention is paid to people's feelings of Scottishness or Englishness versus those of Britishness. But what about the millions of people who feel themselves to be Scottish and English (and therefore British)? Writing for Prospect and his own website, Rory Stewart gives them a voice:

  • "I live in the northern English borders and I am the only MP whose constituency has the word “border” in its name (Penrith and The Border)... Like many of my constituents—and much of the British population—I am both Scottish and English. Two years ago, when I walked from my parents’ home in Scotland to my house in Cumbria, I was walking between two nations but I never felt I was leaving my country."

Rory Stewart knows all about borders, having famously walked across the frontiers between Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Nepal:

  • "In each case, within a few yards, I felt I was in a completely foreign land, in which every detail of manners, language, cuisine and context was altered. Related people lived on each side, but the change was final...In Britain, by contrast, the border forms more a unity than a division."

Unlike his opponents, Stewart places identity at the heart of his argument:

  • "Alex Salmond promotes Scotland as a virtual, high-tech economy, floating freely between Europe and the global markets... English opponents of the Union talk about money: about Scotland’s free eye tests, prescription charges and tuition fees. These should not be the arguments on which Great Britain is broken."

Indeed, they should not. But to what extent is this conservative reasoning is even understood, let alone accepted? 


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