In 1688, Britain’s Protestant elite was so desperate to avoid putting the Catholic James II on the throne of England that it invited a Dutchman, William of Orange, to take it instead. In 1922, after years of civil war in Ireland, Britain gave up its power in Dublin and split the country in two.
For all the British like to claim that ours is a long-settled constitution, not prone to continental-style crises, there have been numerous upheavals.
Is Scottish independence the next such shift? In the latest elections, the Scottish National Party was returned to power on what it terms a pro-independence majority. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon insists a second referendum is “the will of the country”, but Unionists point out she fell short of an overall majority, the barrier the SNP crossed in 2011 to secure the 2014 referendum. The Prime Minister has so far refused to entertain the idea of a rerun.