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I feared Brexit would tear people apart - but after Covid-19 it may be what saves our divided nation

For those of us who relish national stereotypes, the first days of 2022 have brought an odd sense of dislocation.

As the bells rang in the New Year last weekend, the streets of Edinburgh were deserted. Hundreds of miles to the south, Newcastle, Manchester and Liverpool were packed with Scottish partygoers, escaping the Hogmanay restrictions imposed by First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.

Very soon, London may see its own Celtic invasion. On February 12, the defending Six Nations rugby champions, Wales, are due to play Scotland in Cardiff.

But with Wales's First Minister, Mark Drakeford, having banned crowds from sporting events, the Welsh Rugby Union is considering moving the team's home games to London — sending tens of thousands of fans east across the Severn Bridge.

It sounds absurd, and in the long run I suspect the data will show that Boris Johnson was right to defy the pessimists and keep England open.

But the most compelling issue here isn't Covid. It's the devolved administrations' persistence in using the pandemic to score nationalistic points.

When the Prime Minister unveiled his 'Stay alert' slogan, Ms Sturgeon could barely restrain her scorn. Then she produced her own: 'Stay safe'

When he introduced a three-tier regional restriction system, she shook her head in horror. Then she produced her own, with not three tiers, but five!

All very obvious and, unfortunately, very effective. And where Sturgeon led, Drakeford has followed, consistently imposing more draconian restrictions on Welsh businesses than those across the border in England.

Only yesterday, he attacked Boris Johnson, accusing him of 'not taking action to protect' the people of England, a statement that flies in the face of the data.

Covid has exposed all the weaknesses of Britain's devolved political model. It has been a gift to the separatists, handing them the opportunity to define themselves against the supposedly

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DOMINIC SANDBROOK - I once feared Brexit would tear people apart - but after Covid-19 it
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