So, why can we not let England (which is also a metropolis), Wales and Scotland make their own choices on EU membership at the same time? Brussels should approve of it as the results of June referendum demonstrated that outcomes widely vary in each constituent unit. In addition, with referendums in all these regions can more directly decide the fate of the United Kingdom. At the same time, it won’t be quite a ’second UK referendum’, if the Northern Ireland is excluded (NOTE: further details are provided below).
OPTION 1 - All regions vote to stay in the EU!
That would be very nice for European Federalists! England, Wales and Scotland can altogether stay in the United Kingdom, which remains a member state of the European Union.
OPTION 2 – All regions choose to leave the EU!
In this case, England, Scotland and Wales will stay united as the UK, but all must leave the EU.
OPTION 3 – Either Scotland or Wales chooses to stay in the EU but England votes out!
The unit which chooses to leave the EU can stay in the non-member state UK along with England. The unit that prefers to stay in the EU must leave the United Kingdom.
OPTION 4 - Either Scotland or Wales chooses to leave the EU and England votes to stay in!
Along with England, the unit which chooses to remain in the European Union can stay in the UK (as united EU member state). Any other unit that prefers to leave the Union must also quit the United Kingdom.
OPTION 5 - England votes to leave the EU, but Scotland and Wales stay in!
Scotland and Wales should be welcomed as two separate EU member states, while England becomes fully sovereign.
OPTION 6 – England votes to stay in the EU, but Scotland and Wales vote out!
It is a highly unlikely outcome due to recent popularity of eurosceptic UKIP in England and popularity of the EU among Scots. However, if this happens, Scotland and Wales must leave both the EU and the United Kingdom, and become completely independent states.
In addition, if OPTIONS 5 or 6 happen, whether England will solely stay/leave the EU as a separate unit or as the UK only depends what sort of terms the Northern Ireland will agree with metropolis.
What about Northern Ireland?
The Northern Ireland is the most unique constituent unit as it is politically (common political parties), culturally and linguistically semi-integrated with a different country – the Republic of Ireland. In case, if England, Scotland and Wales officially decide to run own referendums, the government in Belfast should sign the preliminary agreement with London on running its currency referendum in a timeframe after the new votes across the UK and before the chosen option is completed. But currency referendum must NOT HAPPEN if the entire kingdom chooses to stay in the EU (OPTION 1). Abandoning British pound would bring very unpleasant economic outcomes, and finally Northern Ireland is too small.
If other mentioned options happen, then Northern Ireland can run its currency referendum, even when all other units choose to leave the EU, in order to deal with concern of isolated borders with Republic of Ireland. If it chooses British Pound, then it will stay in the UK, whether inside or outside of the European Union.
If Northern Ireland chooses Euro currency then it must leave the UK and join the Republic of Ireland, which is already the EU member state.
Very analogous offer can be proposed to Gibraltar, which can run its own currency referendum to select either Gibraltar pound or Euro, in parallel choosing between England and Spain.
No matter what options happen, there should not be any financial panic or nostalgia about the United Kingdom. If Scotland and/or Wales become member states of the EU, theoretically both can disagree from integration into the EU banking union and keep British pound as its currency. Scottish leaders promised to keep the currency, as well keeping the Queen, even in case of independence from the UK .
The English monarch can remain as a symbolic head of state in both independent Scotland and Wales, and nominate Governor-Generals who only appoint new government and convene parliament. It is the very same process in independent Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Bahamas and several Caribbean island nations.
It does sound really sneaky but several cases already happened before, in the EU. Irish had one extra referendum in 2008, after a low turnout in the first referendum, which rejected the Lisbon Treaty that was definitely approved during the second vote. Also, the parliament in Netherlands can very likely ignore the results of April 2016 national referendum and approve the EU association agreement with Ukraine, rejected by Dutch voters, but who make up a small portion of entire EU population.
The most remarkable case happened after austerity measures referendum in July 2015, where Greek voters rejected financial and policy demands from Brussels. And then what happened? The document provided only very specific measures. So, after anti-capitalist Greek government of Alexis Tsipras surrendered during the July 2015 urgent Euro meeting in Brussels, Greece adopted only tougher fiscal terms on budget and public spending, as well as more aggressive privatisation programmes.
Perhaps in a similar way, England, Scotland and Wales can re-negotiate some agreement with Brussels to get new votes on the EU membership. On the other hand, the European Union must reform itself to win back supporters, particularly among English and Welsh voters.