Britain Focuses On Domestic Concerns But Cannot Ignore Global Dangers

After suffering a loss in last year’s independence referendum, Scottish nationalists appear to be on the verge of a comeback by winning almost half the Scottish vote and up to 50 seats in next week’s British elections, reports Peter Geoghegan.

“Such an unprecedented result would have ramifications far beyond the corridors of Westminster. The [Scottish Nationalist Party] surge would virtually wipe out Scottish Labour, which has won every Westminster election in Scotland since 1955. The rise of Scottish nationalism greatly increases the likelihood of a hung Parliament, too, but even more significantly it has put the question of Scottish independence — and the future of the union — front and center once more,” he writes.

In the weeks before the May 7 elections, the New York Times reports that Britain’s position on the global stage has become more of an issue, but that domestic concerns continue to dominate the debate.

“We’ve found ourselves not taking part in the biggest European crisis since the end  World War I; we’ve taken our distance under this government from Europe; and there has been a weakening of the trans-Atlantic component,” a former senior British ambassador told the paper.

Ed Millband, the Labour Party candidate, did step into the foray briefly last week in a speech to Chatham House in which he noted the deterioration of international institutions, including the United Nations and European Union.

“From the EU to the UN, the multilateral institutions that were crafted after the Second World War face more serious pressure than they have known before. Both from outside their institutions and from within. With their reputation undermined by the challenge of a series of global crises to which they appear not to have been able properly to respond,” he said in laying out his concerns about the current global situation.

 

As comfortable as it might be for most candidates, however, to shutter the doors to the world and the responsibilities of leadership, the United Kingdom faces several pressing foreign concerns, including the migration crisis impacting the European continent.

Another issue which has fallen deaf on voters’ ears is the dominance of China and the growing antagonism between China and Japan, contends Chatham House’s Robin Niblett.

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