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The Guardian of view of Boris Johnson’s folly: a plan to divide and misrule | Editorial

History is littered with past mistakes of splitting peoples into nationalists and unionists. The prime minister seems wont to repeat them

In a modern democracy, using raw power to frustrate one’s opponents is neither democratic nor sensible. If demands are ignored, pressure will build up and eventually undermine political legitimacy. Boris Johnson thinks his Commons majority, elected on a first-past-the-post basis, can defy such logic. This is a reckless strategy. Rather than consider how the country ought to be governed when nationalism gains popularity, Mr Johnson aims to harness an English version of it in May’s “Super Thursday” elections. These polls will be therefore mostly about tactical advances, which give no answer to the question of what sort of modern-day state the UK should be.

At the heart of much of the debate today is that within England the centre thinks of itself as unambiguously in charge. English councils are “creatures of statute”. Their powers can be altered or abolished by central government. But outside England there are the competing understandings of what constrains the UK executive. These have been heightened by rising nationalist sentiment in England, Wales and Scotland.

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