It's easy to be an expert after the event. But in the closing years of the 'noughties', no one realised the unprecedented influence that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran, would wield in British politics. First the terrestrial TV channel, C4, asked him to broadcast an alternative to the Queen's speech on Christmas Day, 2008. Six months later he was invited to take part in the Edinburgh Festival, addressing enormous crowds on a selection of controversial topics. What few people realised was that the invitation was a convenient cover for his secret meetings with the Scottish Parliament. The Republic of Iran was terrified by the prospect of a further USA-UK led invasion of the Middle East. Hence, in a master-stroke of political distraction, Ahmadinejad offered the Scottish nationalists a grant of thirteen billion dollars to secure their bid for full independence from England.
It took the Scots twenty-one months to bring their plans to fruition. The military chain of command was discretely reshuffled. Sympathetic broadcasters were promoted within the Scottish arm of the BBC. Then on a slow Tuesday morning in March 2011, the nation awoke to discover that the main motorway arteries into Scotland had been sealed off by heavily-armed soldiers from the Scottish regiments. Moreover, businessmen from England arriving at the regional airports in Glasgow and Edinburgh found themselves required to apply for visas to enter the newly proclaimed Principality of Scotland.
These events took Parliament in London completely by surprise. The news media had a field day lambasting the Conservative Government for its ineptitude in not anticipating the rebellion. The Prime Minister was all too aware that his party held on to Parliament by only the slimmest of margins and in economic terms Scotland was more of a drain on the Exchequer than an asset. Accordingly in less than two months the Prime Minister had yielded to political exigency and revoked the Act of Union that had been in force since 1707.
Nine months later the Irish demanded a referendum, calling for secession from the United Kingdom. Northern Ireland had long been a thorn in London's side, whether from the terrorist bombings of the IRA or the highly charged bigotry of outspoken members of the Loyalist community. Yet the statistical facts appeared inviolable: there were simply more Protestants than Catholics in the Province and the constraints of democracy meant that London could not simply expel the troublesome territory.
A formal review carried out in 2013 found that in the months leading up to the referendum, more than 200,000 'cousins' moved north from the Republic of Ireland to stay with their relatives in the North, thus weighting the count heavily in favour of the nationalist cause. The DUP called for the results of the referendum to be repealed. But by then the political will had all but disappeared. The most intransigent of the Unionists had crossed the Irish Sea and made a new home for themselves in England or Scotland. The rest were enjoying the continuing economic boom of the 'Celtic Tiger', discovering that their denominational differences were not as insurmountable as their representatives had once insisted.
Oddly enough the independence movement didn't gather the same level of momentum in Wales. But by 2015, the Lombard League in northern Italy had demanded full regional autonomy. The states of Saxony had come out in armed rebellion against their political masters in Berlin. And there was murmuring and agitation within every major nation in Europe. Over in the US the state of Texas seceded formally from the Union, throwing the barons of Wall Street into near apoplexy. Ironically, even Iran was affected by this widespread call for greater local autonomy, leading to the imposition of martial law throughout much of 2016.
Most commentators were at a loss to know what to say about this 'brave new world'. Many predicted a repeat of the ethnic violence that had followed the break-up of the former Yugoslavia in the nineties. Others were more upbeat, citing the peaceful separation of the former Czechoslovakia.
What went unnoticed by all but a very few was that these events had long been anticipated within the pages of the Christian Bible. Around 60CE the apostle Matthew wrote that during the so-called last days, “nation would rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.” The internal collapse of the United Kingdom had been but the harbinger of a new world order, one that demanded the emergence of a strong leader capable of bringing peace out of chaos.
Matthew 24:7, NIV Bible, Hodder & Stoughton, 1978
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/7799652.stm, "Ahmadinejad show 'causes offence'", 25 Dec 2008
http:/news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/scotland/9987666.stm, “Scotland is free”, 13 Sept 2011
Times of London, “Referendum - free or fair”, five-page report, 16 Aug 2013
Branson, Richard. “Challenge of a Splintered Europe”. Oxford Press, 2015
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