Blog: ‘Union has been doomed for decades’, says historian who predicted Brexit – The National

Dr James Hawes said the “tipping point” for the collapse of the UK will come more quickly than expected and it will be something which ­initially appears “quite small”.

Speaking in an interview with ­Sunday National columnist John Drummond on Independence Live’s TNT: The Nation Talks show last week, he said he had previously ­predicted if there was a hard Brexit Scotland would be independent ­within five years.

“I put my money on the table there and it is still lying there,” he said. “I think it is looking pretty bright.”

Hawes said a common reaction to this was people did not believe that the UK could collapse – but he ­pointed to examples in history such as the creation of the Republic of ­Ireland and Northern Ireland in 1921.

READ MORE: How YOU can help us reach out for independence

He added: “The USSR collapsed, the British Empire collapsed for ­crying out loud.

“When my mother was born, we still owned India and half of Africa. All that has gone so why should not the UK and GB go too?”

Hawes’ latest book, The Shortest History Of England, traces the roots of the country’s challenges today back through time.

His satirical novel Speak For ­England, published in 2005, won praise for foreshadowing the rise of Nigel Farage and Brexit.

He argued that the Union is on course for collapse because it would only ever have truly worked if ­England had been split into regions.

“My contention essentially is the UK is not only doomed, but it has been doomed for over a century,” he said.

“In a sense one of my prize ­exhibits in the book is none other than ­Winston Churchill, who in 1912 was MP for Dundee at that stage, trying to hold his beloved UK together.

“He put his finger on the fact that the force that was going to blow it apart was actually England.

“The dominance of the southern part of England within England and its refusal to let go would make ­impossible his dream.”

Hawes pointed out in 1912 the ­issue of Home Rule was on the ­agenda for Scotland as well as Ireland and the UK was “clearly collapsing”.

“Churchill was desperate to hold it together, but he realised it could only work as a genuine union of free peoples, who would each send their representative to what he calls their imperial parliament,” he said.

“But he put his finger on the ­problem, that England itself would have to be split up to make that work and because it hasn’t been, the UK is hopeless.”

Hawes said how the collapse of the UK will happen was a “fascinating question”.

“I believe it will come more quickly than we now expect and that the immediate cause of that will be something which ­appears quite small initially and is ­certainly impossible to predict,” he said.

“When I was at university in Ireland in my first job as a lecturer of German studies, half my colleagues there were ­experts in East German literature and culture.

“And none of use foresaw in the summer of 1989 that within a year, Germany would be completely united again. We thought it was completely impossible.”

​READ MORE: Is latest opinion poll a story of pro-indy resurgence or sustained Yes strength?

When the UK does collapse, Hawes said England would be alone in the world for the first time since 1707 and predicted it would be left “deeply split”.

On the issue of differing views over how best to pursue independence, Hawes said campaigners should go forward with confidence, but not feel rushed if it means “falling into some kind of trap”.

He added: “I am a specialist in the long waves of history and I can tell people history is only going in one ­direction, the UK has been ­collapsing since 1921. Scotland will be ­independent soon.”

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