Subarctic Backyards? Britain, Scotland and the paradoxical politics of the European High North

Peer Reviewed

Powell RC

Northern Review 37, pages 87-100, 2013

This article discusses the ways in which the relationship between Britons and the Arctic has been positioned in recent political discussions. It is argued that both UK and Scottish politicians have used changes in the Arctic environment to argue for shifts in policy direction involving a reconfigured northern imagination. Within the Atlanticist wing of the British Conservative Party, the perceived need for the relationship between Britain and northern Europe to be reinforced, through the use of bilateral and multilateral partnerships, has been used as part of a wider strategy to revisit the relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union. For many subscribed to this section of British political thinking, the ultimate aim is withdrawal from the European Union. It is current UK Government policy that a referendum on British withdrawal from the European Union will be held by 2017. At the same time, a perceived lack of engagement by the UK with Arctic issues has been mobilized by Scottish nationalists in the debates that are preceding their independence referendum scheduled for September 2014. Moreover, this is complicated by the apparent desire of the Northern Isles, formerly dependencies of the Danish-Norwegian crown, to remain within the UK, regardless of the political future of the rest of Scotland. As such, northern visions about the Subarctic are being folded in complex ways into the domestic politics of the UK. This has implications for the constitution of arguments about the politics of the High North.

Keywords: Geopolitics, United Kingdom
Categories: Arctic, Social Science