Scottish independence: Boris Johnson's Brexit deal sold out Northern Ireland's unionists and Scotland's are next – Kenny MacAskill

The shriller that Scottish unionists become, the more muted are their Irish colleagues.

Edward Carson's statue in the grounds of the Stormont parliament in Northern Ireland (Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire)
Edward Carson's statue in the grounds of the Stormont parliament in Northern Ireland (Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire)

It’s irredentist chanting of “No Indyref2”, and not even once in a generation with Boris Johnson extending the definition with his comparison to European referendums in 1975 and 2016 and all but ruling it out. Scottish unionists have lapped it up.

You’d have thought that would have resonated with unionists in Northern Ireland, kindred spirits in many ways as flags, marches and even songs often show. But no, across the North Channel there’s neither celebration nor even an echoing of the cry of constitutional No Surrender.

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It’s not that Irish politicians have been struck dumb or coronavirus has silenced them. They’ve got a deal with access to the EU that most Scots would bite your hand off for. Even student-exchange scheme Erasmus and the European Health Insurance Card is being covered by the Republic. The DUP may have wanted to leave the EU but it’s not what their electorate wanted, or what Johnson promised.

Their silence is therefore more than just a huff with the Tories. Instead it’s that Irish Unionists know what’s being done to them and saving the “precious” union it most certainly isn’t. Legislatively they know that it’s never been once in a generation, as the Good Friday Agreement allows for innumerable votes, simply spaced by there being a seven-year gap between them. So whilst Scottish unionists might say no, ‘Ulster Says No’ just can’t be.

That delay or reflection period’s reached in Scotland this year but ironically it’s also the centenary of the ending of the United Kingdom in its first iteration of Great Britain and Ireland. The Irish Free State being established in December 1921 and partition of the island following in its wake.

A referendum’s inevitable and Irish unity almost certain. Scottish unionists would do well to heed the warning given by the statelet’s godfather Sir Edward Carson when he said in 1921: “What a fool I was! I was only a puppet, and so was Ulster… and Ireland in the political game that was to get the Conservative Party into power.”

They’ve sold out Irish unionists, Scottish unionists will be next.

Kenny MacAskill is the SNP MP for East Lothian

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