Ok, so we now know how the union came to be and therefore how the UK started. We know that it was no glorious merger of two nations, joyously coming together for common purpose but was instead an English takeover. And we know that the Scottish people rioted in the streets when they found out that their very country had been sold for English gold.
But riots or not, that surely was the end, wasn’t it? Once we were in, once we were captured and shackled by the union there was no escape, right?
That’s what we’ve been told by every British government since 1707. In fact, John Smith, the speaker of the English parliament in 1707, said after the signing of the Act of Union with Scotland, “we have catch’d Scotland and will bind her fast”. And he was right – we’ve been bound ever since.
But Smith was right only up to a point. England would indeed bind Scotland fast but he knew that Scotland could, in theory, leave the union anytime it wanted. However this was a scenario that was so unlikely to occur that it could easily be ignored. Scotland, to all intents and purposes, had become an English colony.
But what exactly was this escape scenario, this get-out-of-the-union card that could be played by Scotland? It can be summed up in one word: sovereignty.
And for that, we need to turn to the Claim of Right Act of 1689.