Boris Johnson must guard against United Kingdom break-up – The Yorkshire Post says

IT was Boris Johnson who decided to adopt the mantle ‘Minister for the Union’ at the outset of his premiership to demonstrate his commitment to the United Kingdom in spite of tensions created by Brexit.

Boris Johnson protrays himself as the Minister for the Union.

Yet, while the country has left the European Union, the consequences will become clearer as the Covid crisis begins to be superseded by other issues.

And the dangers are self-evident. Mr Johnson is already persona non grata in Scotland where this week’s Holyrood elections will be critical in determining the timing of any second referendum on independence as Douglas Ross, the Tory party’s leader north of the border, quickly distances himself from the Prime Minister.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Meanwhile the more immediate risk to the Union could come in Northern Ireland where this week’s events to mark its centenary are being overshadowed by one of the biggest power vacuums since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 after DUP leader Arlene Foster tendered her resignation as First Minister.

Nicola Sturgeon hopes this week's Scottish Parliament elections will give her a mandate for a second referendum on independence.

Her position had become invidious after Mr Johnson’s promises to the people of Northern Ireland, and the Democratic Unionist Party in particular, over Brexit proved to be meaningless as sectarian tensions – and sporadic violence – exploit the current void in leadership.

Much will depend on the DUP’s choice to succeed Ms Foster and whether the party opts for a moderate willing to work on a cross-party basis or a hardline Unionist who is effectively a throwback to the past.

In the meantime, the onus is on Mr Johnson to work tirelessly to resolve Northern Ireland’s concerns about the implementation of Brexit and to make a new case for the Union based on the benefits that it brings to all four countries rather than the threats to its existence. He can’t wait for events to unfold. By then, it could be too late for this increasingly disunited kingdom.

Support The Yorkshire Post and become a subscriber today. Your subscription will help us to continue to bring quality news to the people of Yorkshire. In return, you’ll see fewer ads on site, get free access to our app and receive exclusive members-only offers. Click here to subscribe.

DUP leader Arlene Foster has resigned as First Minister of Northern Ireland.