It was the morning of the 24th of June 2016. I’m lying in the bed of my AirBnb in Lyon. The day previous had been the day UK citizens went to the polls over their membership of the EU. The result seemed like it would be a fait accompli. It’s about 6am in the morning when I wake up and check my phone.
“F*ck me, the Brits have voted out” I announce.
“Haha, Tiocfaidh ár lá” comes the response from my mate lying next to me in the bed.
Brexit is a gift horse in the pursuit of Irish reunification. The President of the European Commision Donald Tusk today hinted at this tweeting “My message from Dublin: Ni neart go cur le cheile (sic). There is no strength without unity.” For me, it is inconceivable for the Union to survive Brexit, it’s the greatest propaganda coup for the Republican movement since James Connolly was executed by the Brits in 1916 tied to a chair.
As this video explains, the average Briton knows next to nothing about the complexities of Irish Politics. My personal favourite was the lady in the red hat claiming “Ireland is only bitter because they lost.” A record 7 Eurovision victories, Stuttgart 1988 and membership to the World’s largest trading bloc. Is it really Ireland who has lost? But furthermore, it must be really crushing for Unionists to view this and the total disregard in which they are held in Britain. They aren’t so much an afterthought, as a neverthought.
Sadly, this ignorance also extends to Brexiteer politicians. You know, people who’s actual job it is to know about these things… Iain Duncan Smith put Irish complaints in regard to Brexit not down to the fear of restarting sectarian conflict, not due to the catastrophic impact on cross-border trade, not due to the possibility of Dundalk becoming the new Calais. Instead he claims this is all a charade and posturing due to “the upcoming Presidential election.” Anyone who could be bothered to research Ireland, or even use Google, would know that Irish Presidential powers don’t extend particularly far past shaking hands with sports teams at Croke Park and Lansdowne Road.
Make no mistake, the people of Ireland, North and South, simply will not accept a return to the dark days of a militarised Hard Border. I have grown up in an era where trips to Dublin are 90 mins straight down the motorway. 30,000 people cross the 310-mile border everyday for work, while many more do so for shopping, school and to visit family. A border would have catastrophic consequences.
Brexit means Brexit. However, there is a reason why it is called Brexit and not UKexit. 56% of people in the North of Ireland voted to remain. However, this was a UK wide vote and therefore, despite what the Pre-Referendum Brexiteer spoofers claimed, this means leaving the Customs Union. If the U.K leaves the Customs Union, they must therefore be able to keep a record of goods leaving and entering the UK. How can this be done without checks at the border?
If you therefore have a border, you need someone to staff and patrol that border. If you do that, you create sitting targets for those who vehemently oppose the imposition of a border in Ireland in areas where signs stating you are entering Northern Ireland don’t even survive. Therefore, you have to arm these Border Staff, thus militarising the border. This means that you are imposing a Hard Border within Ireland, which contravenes the Good Friday Agreement. But then again, it’s hard to put that degree of detail onto the side of a big red bus isn’t it?
The first option for this was that this was going to be a state-of-the-art technological border. The Border would be a soft one therefore, with the movement of people and goods monitored by CCTV recognition of number-plates. Exactly how this was to determine what was inside the vehicles crossing the EU-UK frontier was never elaborated upon, and was promptly laughed out of Brussels.
The alternative of this is that you impose a customs border in the Irish Sea. There, you effectively create a United Ireland Economically by cutting the North off from the rest of the UK. This is the most sensible idea, but simultaneously also probably impossible due to the Conservative’s Coalition of Chaos the ultra-Loyalist DUP. Good luck trying to get Turkeys to vote for perpetual Papist Christmas. All the best with that one, Theresa.
But the real difficulty is that for Brexit to proceed to Stage 2 of the divorce negotions, the UK must convince the Republic of Ireland of a viable border plan. The Dublin Government has steadfastly refused to countenance a hard border on the Island of Ireland due to it’s contravention of the Good Friday Agreement. Donald Tusk announced on Friday that the Irish Government will have a formal veto on sufficient progress from the British Government on the border. If May cannot convince Varadkar of a competent plan, Brexit will not proceed.
The Brexit-media’s painting of a Taoiseach who is a devoted Thatcherite in Leo Varadkar, as an Irish Revolutionary in the lineage of Sands, Plunkett, Pearse and Tone, is really, really funny. As we would say in Belfast, they haven’t got a frigging baldy. England’s difficulty has, and always will be, described as Ireland’s opportunity. Oh the paradox, 100 years on from the 1918 General Election where Sinn Fein won 73 of 103 seats; establishing a clear mandate for an Independent Ireland that was ignored by Westminister. That Ireland would now have control over Britains affairs, and ‘independence.’ This unmatched pursuit of the craic would almost make up for 800 years of occupation and oppression.