Wallace Thompson is not well known in Wales, Scotland or England but his evolving view on Irish unity matters to all of us.
For readers who’ve never heard of Wallace, he was a founding member of Northern Ireland’s Unionist party, the DUP. An evangelical Protestant, a special adviser, member of the Orange Order, faithful follower of Dr Ian Paisley. In short, a dyed in the wool, fully committed, lifelong Unionist.
The penny has dropped for Wallace when it comes to Northern Ireland and the inevitability of reunification with the Republic of Ireland.
‘’We are in an inevitable move towards that…there is an inevitability in my mind that we are moving towards a new Ireland…This is the problem with Unionism, we’re in denial’
What Wallace shows is that the Union in its current form is over. There will be a new Ireland and he believes Irish Unionists should engage with and help shape that new Ireland.
There will be a new Britain too, the independence movement in Scotland is well established with roots so deep it won’t ever be quashed. Scottish independence is also inevitable.
In Wales support for independence is growing incredibly strongly, becoming wider, deeper and more present across the length and breadth of the country.
Only England lags behind. But, as with Wallace, the penny will drop, realisation will dawn that the UK is not fit for purpose, that it does not work as a relatively small and less important part of the international landscape. In a world where the restoration of the old Empire is impossible, for those English leaders who have the bravery to follow the logic, the conclusion that England too will be better off as an independent nation must follow.
Like Wallace, who believes that engagement and constructive discussions on the creation of a new, united Ireland is the way forward for Irish Unionists– so too for the rest of Britain. Engagement and discussion across and between the nations to find the best way to part ways will be the pathway to success for all three newly independent nations - England, Scotland and Wales.
The history of the Empire can end on a positive note. The Union can unwind in a ‘conscious decoupling’ rather than a messy divorce. New, close, mutually beneficial relationships between the nations of the new British Isles can blossom and grow immediately.
The people who live in each nation can enjoy the fruits of the renewal that independence brings. A 21st century renaissance of smaller, independent nations.
There are plenty who are still wedded to the Union in spite of the weakness of the arguments they make for its preservation. There are plenty who believe in an incremental approach, a path which soothes their fear of the unknown and ameliorates their natural resistance to change and innovation. But the place with the most rapid growth in support is amongst those who have realised that this should happen now.
Why wait? There is nothing to gain in procrastination and prevarication. Wallace gets it. The writing is on the wall and the wall is already falling down. Instead of waiting for it to crumble, be part of tearing it down so that something new and better can be built in its stead.
The UK is in decline, schools are crumbling, food banks are multiplying, the poor are getting poorer whilst the rich get richer. This is an unhealthy picture of terminal decline. Changing the constitutional make up of the UK creates an opportunity for renewal for all parts of the UK. Independence is not the only option but it is the best way to achieve this.
As independent nations, each of us can choose to what extent and how deeply we integrate and co-operate with our immediate neighbours and with other friends and allies. As independent nations, each of us can create constitutions reflective of our cultures. As independent nations, each of us can have vibrant democracies, setting our own priorities and making our own decisions.
We will all be better off with independence. Annibyniaeth for all!