Toby Young Toby Young

I’m turning into an English nationalist

[Getty Images]

One of the things I hadn’t anticipated about the pandemic is that it would turn me into an English nationalist. At the time of writing, the governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have decided to place their countries under various forms of lockdown, while No. 10 has stopped short of imposing one on England with some Tier 3 hotspots. The explanation for this divergence is simple. The Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish executives don’t need to worry about the economic harm the lockdowns will cause because they know that Westminster will come to their rescue. Boris, by contrast, cannot afford to be so reckless because England has no equivalent sugar daddy. The devolved nations are acting like irresponsible students, running up massive debts on their credit cards because they can count on the bank of mum and dad to bail them out.

Actually, it’s even worse than that in Scotland’s case, because one of Nicola Sturgeon’s reasons for placing so much of the country under virtual house arrest is to whip up nationalist sentiment. She wants to position herself as a responsible grown-up, doing what’s necessary to keep her people safe, in contrast to the bumbling buffoon in Westminster. Not only will that help the SNP in the forthcoming elections to the Scottish parliament, it will also make a nationalist victory more likely in the inevitable second referendum. The irony, of course, is that if the SNP had won the first referendum, Sturgeon would not be able to indulge in this ruinously expensive virtue-signalling. With independence would have come a modicum of fiscal responsibility — one of the better arguments for granting the free-spending nationalists their wish.

For the devolved nations to take our money and then use it to finance a campaign to make England look selfish has pushed me over the edge

The actions of Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford are scarcely any more explicable.

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