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Northern Ireland has little hope left It's becoming increasingly obvious that Westminster couldn't care less

Belfast protests. Paul Faith/Bloomberg via Getty


May 3, 2021   5 mins

The ferry from Scotland to Northern Ireland, on 11th July 1989, was full of bandsmen, going to march the next day. On The Glorious Twelfth, Protestants celebrate their victory, in 1690, over the Catholics at the Battle of the Boyne — and stick it to the Taigs. The battlefield actually lies to the south of Northern Ireland, in a nation created 100 years ago today — when 26 counties broke away from the UK to become the Free State and Eire and Ireland. Ironically perhaps, Brits choose to commemorate the battle in the part of the island not yet lost.

The bandsmen and the Boyne — and this illogicality — ended up opening the book I was travelling to Northern Ireland to write. The Glass Curtain is about the Troubles. Not the Troubles of Belfast or Derry, but the Troubles of Fermanagh, a rectangular county with a national border on three sides, where the IRA and the British State were at war. We call it the Troubles but trust me, it was a nasty, dirty, vicious civil war.

But I was travelling to Ulster at the fin de siĂšcle, the end of history. When our temporary home there became permanent, I believed the Gods were smiling on us, because I could see, with my own eyes, the place changing for the better. First the Single Market came. (The EU did nothing but good for Northern Ireland, which opted to Remain in 2016.) Then the Good Friday Agreement was negotiated. It was a fudge, but in Ulster we were disgusted and ashamed by all that had happened and all we had done; only the GFA would bring the prisoners home, and only their homecoming would end the war. Then, at last, the Police Service of Northern Ireland replaced the Royal Ulster Constabulary, a source of Republican rage for generations. Eventually, Sinn FĂ©in supported the police.

With this drawn-out, painful process came the feeling that finally, finally the Irish question had been solved — and it had been solved because we’d plumped for the evolutionary rather than the revolutionary solution. Yes, the status quo would be maintained and Northern Ireland would remain part of the United Kingdom, but at the same time it would mutate into something else, a Hiberno-British hybrid that everyone knew was really Irish, really part of Ireland, but which had Royal Mail post boxes lying around. Partition would remain but it wouldn’t matter anymore. It only mattered that jaw-jaw had prevailed over war-war — and therefore everything was going to be grand.

The day before St Patrick’s Day, last year, I left Dublin, where I work, and went home to Fermanagh. I stayed there, in lockdown, until St George’s Day this year, when I set off for Belfast. There had been several nights of rioting there, protests against Westminster’s Northern Ireland Protocol — which established the so-called Irish trade border between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, following the UK’s departure from the EU. Loyalist fury was expressed with messages painted on walls and gable ends, on placards and posters. They were everywhere — on bridges, railings and lampposts. Some were complicated, like the politics: a lot of writing superimposed on a Union Flag; others were simple: “We’re British, NOT Irish.”

What the placards told me — what they’d tell anyone who bothered to pay attention — is that Loyalists and Unionists believe the Protocol is going to lever them out of the country in which they were born and shuffle them into a country where they do not want to live; it will transform them from being British subjects to being Irish citizens. “There cannot be a border down the Irish Sea,” said Arlene Foster in October 2018. “A differential between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK — the red line is blood red.”

“What did you expect?” I want to shout. “The Tories were always going to shaft you.” The Loyalists and Unionists, who are now complaining so loudly, helped Brexit along hugely. They thought if we left the EU, the border created 100 years ago between Ireland and the North would be meaningful again. Mrs Foster was one of the chief enablers of the hard Brexit. “There will be no border down the Irish Sea,” the Prime Minister promised her party, last August, “over my dead body.” The DUP were reassured, then betrayed. The Protocol has brought Ulster not further from the south, from Ireland, but further from the UK. The target of the party’s anger is Mrs Foster. As I write this, she is resigning as leader of the DUP.

Meanwhile in the south, Sinn FĂ©in are talking up a Border Poll. Whether the South would want us, if push came to shove, is unclear. A recent poll suggested 51% of people in the Republic favour ending partition — though there’s no plan in place, no data about costs, and the Irish Taoiseach, MicheĂĄl Martin, is cautious. Impediments abound. The North’s healthcare system is funded by the state; the south’s depends on insurance. And what will the status of the Irish language be? How will we iron out the differences in our school systems? It will be complicated and expensive, and yet: the possibility of a United Ireland is more interesting all of a sudden. And that is because the concern behind the words written on walls across Belfast is valid: the Protocol shows that we in the North are no longer wanted by the United Kingdom — or, at least, by its ruling party. We’re not liked, tolerated or understood, even vaguely.

A man who’d describe himself as a Unionist (old school), not a Loyalist, complained to me recently: “If I can’t jump in the car with the dog and go to Scotland to see the kids, without the dog having a rabies shot and a passport and a letter from the vet and whatever else they want 
 the kids might as well live in Spain.” As he sees it, the splintered and different nations of the United Kingdom are becoming foreign countries to each other, with not only friends but families divided. Unlike the majority in Northern Ireland, this old school Unionist voted for Brexit. He chose Britain over Europe, but Britain does not want him. When I asked who he blamed for this mess, he said, very quietly, “The British government.” Then he corrected himself. “I mean the English. This Protocol’s down to them.”

But “there is no ‘Irish Sea Border’,” tweeted Brandon Lewis, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and Tory titan, on New Year’s Day. This is one strategy for overcoming the Protocol problem: pretending it doesn’t exist. Another is to say that the EU needs to be more flexible. “We are keen to see the EU engage further, which I hope it will do shortly to understand the needs and the flexibilities that are practical,” said Lewis last month. Why would the EU listen? Why would it do as it’s told?

And why would Westminster want to be flexible while we’re on the subject? They’ve got away with it. Whoever is elected as the new leader of the DUP — and it’s unlikely to be a moderniser — will have to work with the Protocol, as Foster did. To placate the party, the Tories might throw money in our direction. (When Mrs May needed the party’s Westminster votes, she gave it a billion quid.) They might even start the bridge to Scotland. Stranger things have happened. The people behind the placards in Belfast are unlikely to be placated. But what can they do?

Whatever happens, as a citizen of this place, I no longer believe (as I did once) that we are evolving into a stable hybrid. We’re not going to be grand. We will stagger on — that’s all. And if, occasionally, we complain, England will object to the noise, and nothing — absolutely nothing — will change.


Carlo Gébler is an Irish writer and television director. He teaches at Trinity College Dublin, and in various prisons in the Belfast area.


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Jim
Jim
3 years ago

I suspect that the English no long care to be honest. We’ve got Brexit. We’re perfectly happy to let the Irish, Scots or Welsh have their own exit if they want one. A majority of the English Electorate grew up with the Troubles. Northern Ireland is just some place they shoot British solders as well as each other, and then hound soldiers through the courts fifty years later, even though terrorists have apparently been given an amnesty.
If they want to stay, that’s fine but in the North of England people might ask why the UK spends more per head on the periphery than it does in the North.

rosie mackenzie
rosie mackenzie
3 years ago
Reply to  Jim

Speak for yourself by all means.
We are absolutely incandescent and have been ever since Martin Selmayr, the EU’s top civil servant, said Northern Ireland must be the price for Brexit.
First Mrs May lost the 2017 election through her stupidity and arrogance. Then, intimidated by the EU and the IRA, she took responsibility for the EU border and Single Market. She had accepted the EU sequencing which was against the Lisbon Treaty. The withdrawal and the future relationship were supposed to be settled at the same time. But the EU wanted our money and leverage from the Irish border, and they prevailed. She didn’t understand what Brexit was, thinking it just meant staying in the EU without the compulsory immigration. So then she arranged for the whole country to stay in without a say.
When she was finally defenestrated, there was a full blown Traitors’ Parliament, led by a bent Speaker, and passing illegitimate directives. The most damaging was the “Surrender Bill” which prevented Boris from negotiating us out of Mrs May’s mess. All he could do was a fudge with Varadkar and hope to undo it later. At that point the British interpretation of the NIP was very different from the EU’s. Then the Biden regime came to power via a rigged election and we are now stuck with a pro IRA President fouling things up.
The only hope is that Raab and Frost can shift things now the EU Parliament has ratified. But it is just a hope.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago

Boris won the election and 80 seat majority. He could have done whatever he wanted to.

rosie mackenzie
rosie mackenzie
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

You can’t have been paying attention at the time.

David Boulding
David Boulding
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Boris was stuck thanks to May’s capitulation. That he managed so much after her is a miracle. We owe him thanks for a great job. Personally I’d have chosen WTO and scrapped the WA.

Ri Bradach
Ri Bradach
3 years ago
Reply to  David Boulding

I remain mystified at why Britain didn’t go to WTO and then ask the EU if it would like access to the UK market.

The EU will never permit free movement of services – a major part of the original problem – and the fact that they have not recognised IDENTICAL MIFiD regulations as “equivalent” tells you everything about the EU approach.

Frankly, I’d like to see the UK call out the EU’s hostility by withdrawing from NATO and letting the EU fend for itself entirely.

chcgo.undaground
chcgo.undaground
3 years ago
Reply to  Ri Bradach

Germany would sit on its hands and allow Russia to take the rest of the Ukraine and maybe the Baltic’s again as long as they can buy Russian nat gas and then resell it………

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
3 years ago

A good description of what happened. May did so much damage to this country and had no leadership skills however good she was at her last job. Boris won a decisive election victory on the back of Brexit but now we end up with a mess in NI because he doesn’t seem to care. Now that Covid seems to be coming to an end this problem really needs to be sorted to rescue NI from this chaos.

David Waring
David Waring
3 years ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

Mrs May probably the most idle a useless Home Secretary the UK has ever had.

Last edited 3 years ago by David Waring
Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago

I’d laugh and laugh if the UVF started letting bombs off in Brussels.

nick woods
nick woods
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Wonderful idea!

Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

How much would you laugh if the bombs were in England instead?

Simon Holder
Simon Holder
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul N

They were – in the 1970s.

Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon Holder

A few were (though by their opponents, not by the UVF). But Jon Redman is gloating at a prospective renewal of that sort of lunacy!
It really is despicable.

David Boulding
David Boulding
3 years ago

Well said indeed.

Ri Bradach
Ri Bradach
3 years ago

Well put. Perhaps UnHerd should ask you to respond the writer, who clearly has a very anti English bent and fails to grasp the history all that well.
Starting with Unionists being Scots – ironically – in NI, not English.
Also enjoyed how he claimed the GFA followed the single market when actually it was the other way round (not that they were linked, however much the anti-English lobby would like to claim.)

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
3 years ago
Reply to  Jim

I agree that the government seems to care little for NI. They have shafted them over Gay marriage and mass abortion. NI Ireland is the only UK country that stood up for their moral principles but the UK chose to force their questionable morals onto NI. It appears also that the EU have stolen NI from Britain but Britain doesn’t care enough to do much about it. I can see a unified Ireland if Britain continues to drag their feet which might not be a bad thing. If we go on like this we will just be England (a highly multicultural country) and not Great Britain. It certainly does not bode well for the future.

Dominic S
Dominic S
3 years ago
Reply to  Jim

The Protestant community in England is livid. The way that the Union is being thrown away is a disgrace. The 50% of the Scots who value the Union and all it offers, the Welsh, and the majority of those in Northern Ireland, are being treated like detritus to be thrown away by all the mainland UK political parties.

But they’re people, some are our personal friends, and this complete lack of care for them enrages us.

Ri Bradach
Ri Bradach
3 years ago
Reply to  Dominic S

The “50% … of Scots” are remarkably quiet whilst the other 50% are busy telling the English how much they hate them.

Frankly, the Act of Union made England and Wales subservient to Scotland under a Scottish King. The English get regular doses of socialism thanks to the overweighting of representation in Scotland and to top it all off, Scotland gets to spend English money at a rate to make a Labour government blush.

How any Englishman can wish to preserve the Union that has served them so poorly for so long, I have no idea.

Don Bryan
Don Bryan
3 years ago

I’m from the “South” and I read this article and comments with interest and concern. In the comments it’s obvious which “side” is being articulated. It ignores that 50% of the residents don’t agree and have never agreed with this opinion. Open borders has been our salvation until now. I agree the border down the Irish Sea is no solution in fact it is a serious political problem that is not sustainable. It not a matter of the EU being more flexible. It’s about The politicians of both sides in the North sitting down and trashing out a workable solution with politicians in the South. But that is a problem in itself. Are there any politicians with the leadership skills necessary to make this happen? If there aren’t then I foresee with dread the Noth sinking back into the political turmoil of 40 years ago….stop looking to Westminster and Brussels for solutions…let’s see all politicians in the “North” shoulder their responsibilities and finally come up with an obvious and sustainable solution to the issues.

David Boulding
David Boulding
3 years ago
Reply to  Don Bryan

I agree. This problem was weaponised by the EU who shoulder the blame for breaking the GFA. Johnson was left a poisoned chalice by Mrs May and those Remainers in Parliament who were doing their best to overthrow our democratic vote to leave the EU.
The EU has a lot to answer for.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago
Reply to  David Boulding

All true, but we must not forget that Johnson flat out lied to NI unionists who are also citizens of the UK about their future status.

rosie mackenzie
rosie mackenzie
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

He had a different interpretation of the NIP from the EU. His mistake was to think the EU was as reasonable and pragmatic as he was. Lots of people make that mistake.

Wilfred Aspinall
Wilfred Aspinall
3 years ago

You are right. Having spent 29 years on the Brussels scene It is not appropriate to try and fudge anything with the EU Institutions. In my opinion NI must remain a part of the UK operating under common law not European Law

Peter Gardner
Peter Gardner
3 years ago

I think it is more a case of Boris believing the deliberate ambiguity in the NI Protocoal and WA could be used to keep the worst at bay, and also that much of both could be replaced by provisions in the TCA. This did not happen and since he caught Covid he has lost his mojo. Also, remember we had a rogue Remainer parliament that had tied his hands when he went to Brussels to negotiate, with measures like the Benn Act. He had an impossible task. It was only after winning the election that he could have improved on it and he could not have counted on winning without first getting a deal. A desperate situation.
My view is that, no matter what a deal might say, the EU will always do its best to suppress the UK’s economy, weaken the UK by sowing internal division and by circumventing it in international arena. It is not an ally. It is a bullying competitor, much in the manner of Russia or China, but not yet as openly aggressive.

Last edited 3 years ago by Peter Gardner
Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

True – but I can’t see how Brexit could have happened without taking this route.
Its also hard to blame the EU for spotting a sucker in Theresa May, and using her to get agreement for something untenable that had to be undone by her successor.

Last edited 3 years ago by Ian Barton
G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

The ‘no hard border’ stipulation that apparently existed within the 1998 GFA signed between the UK and Éire, sponsored by the EU and US, was a complete fiction.

There is no stipulation whatsoever alluding to the presence of a land border on the island of Ireland despite entirely fallacious claims to the contrary, only a commitment to the removal of military installations along said border.

Ireland and the EU, and frankly so did the UK, all well knew that any failure to agree would likely require Éire and the EU to erect said border in order to protect its single market as the UK had already expressly said it had no intention of ever doing so.

The UK should have held its nerve and sought to protect the rights of its citizens. It failed utterly miserably to do so and should be ashamed of itself.

Peter Gardner
Peter Gardner
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

Correct. It’s not in the GFA. It was in the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018.

Peter Gardner
Peter Gardner
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

I don’t think the EU spotted a sucker in Mrs May. She decided for herself that the UK would be better of remaining in the EU. She deliberately opted from the start for a comprehensive intimate deal with the EU, it was to be true BRINO. Then in her Florence speech in September 2017 (a week after Juncker’s state of the union speech) she committed the UK to supporting the European Project, participating where it could. She came back to the UK and set up her back channel to Brussels through Olly Robbins, transferred from DEXU for the purpose, and by-passing her Ministers, whom she kept in the dark.
Mrs May was no mere sucker. She was a traitor and she used the NI Border as her own weapon of choice to dismiss every constructive proposal out of hand. She insisted time and again that the ‘border problem’ was insoluble other than by conceding to rule by Brussels.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

That is terrible and could lead to the break up of Britain. We are tiny countries but together we are stronger.

David Wildgoose
David Wildgoose
3 years ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

The biggest “Celtic” nation is Scotland, which has roughly the same population as a single English county: Yorkshire. The Republic’s economy is roughly the size of the economy of Greater Manchester.
England is weakened by subsidising and constantly pandering to our Celtic appendages who respond only with complaints, abuse and giving succour to our opponents.
Breaking up Britain is long overdue and will be to England’s benefit.

Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
3 years ago
Reply to  David Boulding

The EU is not responsible for British bungling here. The northern Irish border was not even mentioned during the referendum debates. The U.K. then claimed it didn’t want a border in Ireland nor on the Irish Sea, which is clearly absurd.

When the Tories were in government with the DUP they couldn’t agree on the protocol, when elected without the DUP the Tories threw Northern Ireland to the wolves. Now it’s back again. It really has nothing to do with Northern Ireland but with the U.K. trying to wrangle out if agreed international protocols.

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
3 years ago

I think it is the case that the EU is using every weapon that it can find in order to attack the UK. That includes N.I. I now view the EU as an unfriendly foreign power.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
3 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

That’s probably an understatement seeing the way they are behaving. If we have left the EU then we should leave intact with our territories including NI which is part of Britain.

Jim Jones
Jim Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

Northern Ireland isn’t part of Britain though that’s the problem.

John Molloy
John Molloy
3 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

Isn’t it also possible that Brexit is a mess??!! That it was badly thought out. In some cases, not at all. And that the EU is just a handy scapegoat?

David Boulding
David Boulding
3 years ago
Reply to  John Molloy

Brexit a mess? Why is the EU acting so badly? The blame can be placed at the feet of a treacherous Theresa May, a Parliament working against democracy and the EU hell bent on revenge.
The EU is now overtly a hostile foreign power.

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
3 years ago
Reply to  John Molloy

Yes to an extent, but that doesn’t negate my point that the EU is hostile. It is a pretty rum deal when BJ looks like the only grown-up in the room.

zac chang
zac chang
3 years ago
Reply to  John Molloy

Not if your a flag shagger no…

Peter Gardner
Peter Gardner
3 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

Quite right. It was inevitable. No matter what any agreement might say, it is imperative for the EU to do all it can to prevent the UK from making a success of Brexit. If it fails in this objective, the European Project is at risk of ceasing to exist.

Red Reynard
Red Reynard
3 years ago

FvP, I think the issue is the fact that the EU insists on a border for customs and quality control – a type of hardish border; whereas the UK, having nothing to fear from having an open border, doesn’t see the point. There is a report kicking around from the EU itself (unfortunately I’ve lost the link) which states that – with a little goodwill on both sides – it is possible to use technology to control the goods coming into the single market thereby alleviating the need for a ‘hard/hardish border’. The U.K. Government’s claim that it doesn’t want a border is therefore not absurd at all; a country needs no more than a line across the road, if it so chooses. The need for a border has always been an E.U. one.
Ultimately, it is an intractable problem driven by intractable people

John Molloy
John Molloy
3 years ago
Reply to  Red Reynard

Brexit means Borders. The idea that you can leave an economic union like the EU and not have borders is pure fantasy. Saying that the UK won’t impose a border but the EU might is dishonest waffle. One of the biggest selling points for Brexit was to control immigration. Borders!!

Peter Gardner
Peter Gardner
3 years ago
Reply to  John Molloy

No. Goods trade and personal travel are quite separate. The Common Travel Area of the UK and Ireland pre-dates the EU by many decades and is still in existence.
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/common-travel-area-guidance#:~:text=The%20Common%20Travel%20Area%20(CTA,is%20not%20dependent%20on%20it.

David Boulding
David Boulding
3 years ago
Reply to  John Molloy

Have a look at non-EU goods arriving in Trieste destined for elsewhere in the EU.

Peter Gardner
Peter Gardner
3 years ago
Reply to  Red Reynard

Quite true. The EU has its own smart borders project to replace paper forms with electronic systems. Although viable for whole of the the EU there is one exception for political reasons: not feasible in Ireland!

Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter Gardner

Isn’t the EU Smart Borders pilot about movement of people (into the Schengen area) rather than goods?
https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/borders-and-visas/smart-borders_en

Last edited 3 years ago by Paul N
David Boulding
David Boulding
3 years ago
Reply to  Red Reynard

The electronic border was dismissed by the EU and particularly Varadkar. The previous Irish incumbent had been working on this project as a means of solving this problem. It shows how keen the EU and the Irish have been to get one over on the UK. The current Mr Martin seems to be more sensible.
The EU is about to trash the Irish economy very shortly by setting their tax rates. Niot that I feel sorry about this.

Peadar Laighléis
Peadar Laighléis
3 years ago
Reply to  David Boulding

Leo Varadkar’s problem is that he thinks politics is just an extension of debating societies in Trinity College, Dublin. If the EU saw a sucker in this mess, it was certainly him and some of his Fine Gael party colleagues. MicheĂĄl Martin is showing more savvy (and already did while leader of the opposition – but remember he was a minister in the government which negotiated the GFA while Varadkar was barely out of school), but he is in a difficult position as a leader of a party, Fianna FĂĄil, which is collapsing in the face of Sinn FĂ©in inroads.

J StJohn
J StJohn
3 years ago

It’s not absurd. The republic should prioritise the relationship with the UK and NI. They should accept a border with the EU

John Molloy
John Molloy
3 years ago
Reply to  J StJohn

Yes. And leave the EU as well. Like the tail of the English dog!

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
3 years ago
Reply to  John Molloy

You mean we left but left our tail behind so the EU can punish us through it.

Peter Gardner
Peter Gardner
3 years ago
Reply to  John Molloy

I thought England was by far the largest of the countries of the British Isles. It used to be.

David Boulding
David Boulding
3 years ago
Reply to  John Molloy

With the tax affairs of Ireland about to be ruled from Brussels Ireland may very well soon wish it had never heard of the EU.

Peadar Laighléis
Peadar Laighléis
3 years ago
Reply to  David Boulding

There was a bad Irish habit of hiding behind Britain at difficult EU meeting and the particular prize for that is Ireland’s feted Corporation Tax rate. Now Irish officials need an alternative strategy.

Peter Gardner
Peter Gardner
3 years ago

That is rather like saying that the side that wins a battle is not responsible for the other side’s defeat.

Alexander D Macmillan
Alexander D Macmillan
3 years ago
Reply to  David Boulding

As you say this problem was weaponised by the EU. If the Ulstermen are going to make trouble they should go to the source and make it in Brussels. I doubt that the EU elites will like it up ’em!

John Molloy
John Molloy
3 years ago
Reply to  David Boulding

The EU is NOT responsible for Brexit. This is your mess.

Peter Gardner
Peter Gardner
3 years ago
Reply to  David Boulding

The EU has no conscience. It is a technocratic government. It gained a weapon in the WA & NI Protocol. Now it intends to use it. If it does not the UK threatens to become an existential threat to the EU merely by succeeding outside the EU. It would be quite illogical of the EU to allow that..

David Boulding
David Boulding
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter Gardner

I’d say the EU has already shot its bolt. The future does not look good for the EU.

Jim Jones
Jim Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  David Boulding

You’re a long Britain created this mess in Northern Ireland 100 years ago and yet you just blame the EU

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago
Reply to  Don Bryan

Does Southern Ireland particularly want to be joined with the North? It would change its political balance a great deal. Also a lot of people from Southern Ireland have duel British/Irish passports-surely this would end if it becomes a united EU Ireland?

Peter Gardner
Peter Gardner
3 years ago
Reply to  kathleen carr

Interesting question. What would happen to the Common Travel Area, which pre-dates the EU and still continues.

Peadar Laighléis
Peadar Laighléis
3 years ago
Reply to  kathleen carr

We will inevitably see. The GFA provides for a United Ireland only if a majority in both parts vote for it. Demographically, there will be a Catholic, nationalist majority in the North soon and if this does not vote for unity at 51%, it will eventually achieve the majority as it will continue to increase. I have argued elsewhere that an early referendum might be more in the unionist interest than a later one. The next question is whether the Republic takes the north. I think that the question is if there is a silent majority in the 26 counties that will vote against unity, because I don’t imagine too many public figures in the state would want to put themselves across as unionists if the North is going to vote for unity.

Ri Bradach
Ri Bradach
3 years ago

I cannot see Ireland, particularly post impoverishment following the EU setting tax rates, welcoming the North into the Republic.

I often wonder if this plays a part: most people I ask in Ireland what it is to be Irish lead with or place highly “hating the Brits”. By which they mean the English really.

If you define yourself with hate, it doesn’t sell well. Ireland and the Irish are so much more than this, but sell themselves short with such hatred.

Ian Moore
Ian Moore
2 years ago

The big question is whether Ireland can afford to be united, I would see any “no” vote to unity being ran along these lines.

rosie mackenzie
rosie mackenzie
3 years ago
Reply to  Don Bryan

Can you explain to me, if you don’t mind my asking, why do the people who own and inhabit 26 counties begrudge the other people their 6 counties?

J StJohn
J StJohn
3 years ago

It’s an Island. One piece of land.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago
Reply to  J StJohn

So is Britain

rosie mackenzie
rosie mackenzie
3 years ago
Reply to  J StJohn

Have you said the same to Wee Nicola?

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
3 years ago

Which just shows that it is not really about an island being one country. More about three nations on one island although England is no longer one nation but a nation of many different cultures.

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago
Reply to  J StJohn

By that definition should we say goodbye to Wales and Scotland? Also does this ‘its an island’ have a geographical size as there are all sorts of land divisions in Europe that are quite recent-shouldn’t we just ‘squash’ them all together ?

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
3 years ago
Reply to  kathleen carr

What squash them together with China, Russia, and India etc. because they are on the same piece of land? These countries are ethnic nations proving that countries are ethnic nations not just land masses with sea around them.

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

I wasn’t being serious you know? It was the earlier comment that said everyone on the same land block should be one country. However a lot of countries in Europe , either geographical or political are fairly new,, just like the present North & South Ireland.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
3 years ago
Reply to  J StJohn

Lots of islands are two countries. The IRA have made sure that protestants are not welcome on the island.

Jim Jones
Jim Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

There are only four in the world actually

Last edited 3 years ago by Jim Jones
Ian Moore
Ian Moore
2 years ago
Reply to  J StJohn

So is the greater Europe/Asia area, and South America, and North America.

Chris C
Chris C
3 years ago

As a historical note, two of the six counties voted in 1921 to join the South. The British Government drew a line round the six because they represented the largest area which could still be Unionist-controlled using the large Unionist majority in the other four, telling the South that the boundary was temporary and it would all be sorted out in a future final negotiation, and then reneged on that in the mid-1920s and presented the South with the fait accompli of a six-county NI.
A century later, demographic change in NI means that the Unionists probably wish they could hand the two Nationalist counties back and focus on the four, which might gain them another generation of Unionist majority which in the six counties has essentially evaporated in the first two decades of the 21st century.

rosie mackenzie
rosie mackenzie
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris C

This is a very republican version of what happened. You don’t mention the ethnic cleansing of Unionists which has gone on in the border lands. You could have said Southern Ireland wanted to break away from the rest of us and the North didn’t. And it is worth remembering the original plan was for 9 counties, the old Ulster, which would have given a 55%/45% majority to the Unionists. This was considered too narrow.

Last edited 3 years ago by rosie mackenzie
Frederick B
Frederick B
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris C

It should have been sorted out with a re-partition. Mrs. Thatcher’s government, at the height of the troubles, did consider re-partition to create a smaller, more solidly Unionist, Northern Ireland with a straighter, more logical, border (google: “map, proposed repartitions of Northern Ireland”).
The proposal, though, included a Stalinesque forced population exchange which was thought impractical for political reasons, among others – imagine the US reaction! So it was not proceeded with. A pity – a solidly Unionist NI with no fears for its future and a hard border with the Republic would have solved a lot of headaches right now.

Andrew Baldwin
Andrew Baldwin
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris C

The Anglo-Irish Treaty did establish a Boundary Commission that could have given big parts of the six counties to the Irish Republic. It was probably a mistake to entrust a task like that to a border commission rather than a popular referendum. However, all is not lost. You could still have a referendum today. Better late than never. Probably a lot of the problems of the land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic become more tractable if the border isn’t so long, the number of people in the Northern Ireland entity is smaller, and the number who would rather be part of the Republic is considerably reduced. This is, of course, just a temporary fix. Ireland’s long-term future should be as part of a federal union of the British Isles. Never mind all this talk about it all being one island. It’s all one archipelago.

Peadar Laighléis
Peadar Laighléis
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Baldwin

That’s interesting. The policy of Sinn FĂ©in at its foundation in 1905 was a dual monarchy between Britain and Ireland on the Austro-Hungarian model. The majority nationalist consensus, which voted overwhelmingly for the Irish Parliamentary Party until 1918, was for a home rule parliament in Dublin which would have been within the British Empire. Events forced a different outcome. Anyone is welcome to canvas for a federal union between Ireland (united or otherwise) and Britian (unitary or devolved) within the present day Irish Republic, but I doubt they will get very far.

rory.kinsella3
rory.kinsella3
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Baldwin

Spot on 100 %

Bernard Lee
Bernard Lee
3 years ago

The state of N Ireland was negotiated and created by the then British Government in 1921. At the time, albeit accompanied by armed revolt, the democratically expressed wish of the majority of the whole population of Ireland was for a unitary independent state. The subsequent geographic entity of N Ireland was constructed in order to block that majority decision, to maintain a British state on the island, and to provide a permanent unionist majority. Now that that majority is no longer guaranteed, the question of the desirability of maintaining N Ireland in its present form in order to assuage the emotional aspirations of a loyalist minority, becomes paramount. The political and economic history of N Ireland shows a failure of statehood, and its continuation brings no viable benefit to the population, loyalist or nationalist. A renegotiation of governance in Ireland could bring huge societal benefits, re-aligning a relationship with the neighbours in Great Britain, which had been poisoned by the conflict.
But the state was created by Britain, and is still maintained by perfidious assurances from HM Government, and we will only be able to seriously address our futures when HM Government stops being a culpable protagonist and engages in honest discussion.

Peter Gardner
Peter Gardner
3 years ago
Reply to  Bernard Lee

I think your history is somewhat selective. Remember the Home Rule Bill? Overtaken by the war and then by violence. Without the violence a different solution might have been possible.
Anyway, the idea that in the present atmosphere, with the bullying and incompetent EU (now supported by the incompetent Joe Biden) being determined to stick it to the UK and a major player, the chances of achieving a fair settlement in Ireland are next to zero. Take the EU out of the equation and a solution would be easier to find. Before Varadkar, good progress on the border was being made through the structures established by the Belfast Agreement. That is what we need to get back to.

Last edited 3 years ago by Peter Gardner
John Molloy
John Molloy
3 years ago

Roughly half of the population of the 6 counties are nationalist. They want to join the 26 counties. I live in Dublin. Frankly, we’re not ready for a united Ireland. London pays an extraordinary amount every year to keep NI afloat. We are not ready to take that over. There is no question of begrudgery. But when the majority in NI decide they want unification, we have to take it on. And we will.

Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago
Reply to  John Molloy

Interestingly there is a growing amount of debate in Ireland (North and South) on how unification would work, how any referendum would be managed, and what sort of state would result in the even of a vote for unification. The goal is, I understand, to avoid an unplanned and chaotic Brexit-like process, and to ensure clarity on what people are voting for.

Last edited 3 years ago by Paul N
Peadar Laighléis
Peadar Laighléis
3 years ago

Well, as per my reply to Kathleen Carr above, its not about the inhabitants of the 26 counties actively seeking the 6; it’s rather that at such time as a majority in the 6 decide they want to join with the 26, the 26 will decide for themselves whether they want to accept them or not. I don’t think the outcome of such a referendum is easily predictable, but I do think the opponents of Irish unity will fight it with their hands tied behind their backs.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
3 years ago
Reply to  Don Bryan

Following the EU referendum, the UK and Irish governments set up a working group to find practical ways of managing the border issues that could then be presented to the EU as a fait accompli. When Varadkar took office he abolished this working group and encouraged the EU to weaponise the border. No doubt this was in part prompted by Anglophobia but also by the notion that this would make Ireland the EU’s teacher’s pet. As the vaccine debacle in February showed, and this week’s argument about taxation reinforces, the EU sees Ireland as just another peripheral member state to be bossed around and taken advantage of. Perhaps the Irish will come to realise who their friends really are. If not, disappointment awaits.

Last edited 3 years ago by Dougie Undersub
Chris Stapleton
Chris Stapleton
3 years ago

“Perhaps the Irish will come to realise who their friends really are.” To coin a phrase, you must be joking. The English are there to be hated. Would you like me to draw you a diagram?

David Boulding
David Boulding
3 years ago

Hated thanks to Irish myths

Peter Gardner
Peter Gardner
3 years ago
Reply to  Don Bryan

I have long held the view that if the EU would stay out of it, the UK and Ireland could sort it out. All the mechanisms and structures are in place for the two to do so through the Belfast Agreement – to which the EU is not even a party. The CTA pre-dates the EU and continues.
There was good progress on border issues until Varadkar became the Taoiseach. I strongly suspect that Varadkar did a deal with Brussels: allow Ireland to keep its tax haven, and not be taken to the ECJ as the EU has been threatening, in return for weaponising the border and stuffing the Brits. Together they found, much to their surprise, that Mrs May was a Remainer intent upon keeping UK as subject to EU government as she could. To this end she by -passed her ministers and set up a back channel to the EU via Olly Robbins, following her speech in Florence in September 2017. She was a traitor. The border came to be her weapon of choice to dismiss out of hand all solutions to the border in order to give the EU all the leverage it needed not only over Northern Ireland itself but over the whole of the UK.
The NI Protocol is arguably itself a breach of the Belfast Agreement. Nevertheless it is capable of being used to produce a practicable solution. it is a question of political will to make it work. There is no need for the EU to carry out umpteen times as many checks on goods entering NI from the UK as it does on any other EU border. The EU is deliberately stirring up trouble. It is probably more than content to see increasing violence from any party. the EU’s purpose is simply to damage the UK by any and all means. As for Ireland, its tax haven is doomed. The EU will legislate for tax harmonisation. The deal I suspect it made with Varadkar has served its purpose. Ireland has had its day in the spotlight seeming to control events and sticking it to the Brits, wearing the green. Now it must pay.

Last edited 3 years ago by Peter Gardner
Peadar Laighléis
Peadar Laighléis
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter Gardner

You are implying a level of intelligence to Leo Varadkar which I don’t believe is there. Someone above suggested the EU saw Mrs May as a sucker; I believe it was rather Dr Varadkar who took that role.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago

The ‘Irish Question’ has been around for about 100 years now. (I mean this particular Irish Question, not the great number of earlier questions).
There is no doubt in my mind that England is to blame for the problems in Ireland. But this is history and the problems continue. It seems to me that England can’t magically solve these problems and never could. Only the people in Northern Ireland can really solve them.
It is not true that England caused the same problems in Scotland or Wales. Scotland’s kings took over England, not vice versa – so SNP politicians are to blame for that one. In Wales there isn’t really a problem or no more than in Yorkshire and Lancashire – the dominance of London.
A couple of articles today are about London. To me, London is wealthier than the rest of the UK. Let us talk about the problems in Leeds or Birmingham for a change.

J StJohn
J StJohn
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

We have had leaders of Irish extraction in England
ï»żLeonard James Callaghan was born at 38 Funtington Road, CopnorPortsmouth, England, on 27 March 1912. He took his middle name from his father, James (1877–1921), who was the son of an Irish Catholic father who had fled to England during the Great Irish Famine

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

Yes, it is obvious that there never has been, and never will be, any good faith, on the part of the EU. Thus, as you say, we simply need to invoke that clause, and be free of the Withdrawl Agreement in 12 months. More people need to be aware of this clause.

David Jory
David Jory
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Sorry accidental flag. Fat thumbs!

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

The EU should be Taken to international court for violating 2365 of UN Act on Sovereignity in Independent countries,The tory Theresa may&Boris Johnson should be Sacked for agreeing to redrawing 1922 border with blair’s 1998 surrender..

John Molloy
John Molloy
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

It seems to come as a surprise to you, but the EU and, more particularly, the people of Ireland, opposed Brexit. (Not that the Republic of Ireland had any say, one way or the other) This was an English idea pushed through after a marginal majority in a referendum. Subsequent political machinations in Westminster have given little cause for confidence in good faith on the UK side. Accusing the EU of bad faith in relation to the problems in Ulster is rediculous.

J StJohn
J StJohn
3 years ago
Reply to  John Molloy

The brexiteers have won all elections after the referendum hands down. Not least the EU assembly vote where the novel ‘Brexit Party’ annihilated allcomers, for being insufficiently brexity.

nicktoeman4
nicktoeman4
3 years ago
Reply to  John Molloy

You are unspecific about the English machinations, forget the Welsh choice and the indifference of many, non-voting Scots. On the other hand the EU’s evil machinations are clear. I say evil because they break the delicate agreement between the communities in Northern Ireland and jeopordise the peace, which is exactly what they proclaimed to be aiming to protect. They have used the border as a lever for their own ends and interpreted the Protocol in the most pedantic and unsympathetic way possible, regardless of the risk to citizens’ lives. That is evil as well as hypocritical.

John Mcalester
John Mcalester
3 years ago

Brexit was always going to be very difficult for Northern Ireland. The success of the Good Friday agreement was in the ambiguity in the way that it was written. It allowed all sides to take what they wanted to believe in it and ignore the bits that they didn’t want to address.

Leaving the EU has torn that curtain of ambivalence down and has forced people to recognize that you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

To a certain degree NI has been politically used as a football between the EU and the UK but it’s probably closer to a difficult child in a divorce which neither parent really wants, but that doesn’t stop them for using it for their own interests.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago
Reply to  John Mcalester

What role would you ascribe to Ireland in this complicated ménage-à-trois?

John Mcalester
John Mcalester
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

Mrs Doyle from Father Ted: ” go on you will, you will, you will.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago
Reply to  John Mcalester

To use your earlier analogy, to me, Ireland seems to be like the other partner who’s currently enjoying great sex with the EU and who secretly can’t quite bring itself to admit that, despite the expected posturing to the contrary, it doesn’t really want the troublesome kid on the scene cramping its style and denting its carefully cultivated easy going image either.

Last edited 3 years ago by G Harris
Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

Like many others, Ireland will soon need to be careful picking up the soap in the EU showers.

Last edited 3 years ago by Ian Barton
Michael McVeigh
Michael McVeigh
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Absolutely, the EU used Northern Ireland to shaft Britain and will use anything, anytime to shaft Ireland without a care.

J StJohn
J StJohn
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

Child abuser

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

If Ireland can get on with NI as one country you would have a solution and be able to leave England out of it. England would suffer having the EU all around them but Switzerland seems to manage it.

David Boulding
David Boulding
3 years ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

Switzerland has its own problems with the EU.

Andrew D
Andrew D
3 years ago

Let me suggest two possible solutions.
The first is that Ireland unites and – since that seems to be its preference, even in the north – remains a detached outpost of the EU, physically separated from that trading bloc by a trading partner which isn’t part of it. Prods who don’t like it can be offered a small bribe to go and live in Scotland (whence came many of their ancestors, and which I’m told is keen to encourage immigration).
The second (and my preferred) solution is that the whole of Ireland becomes part of Greater Britain, outside the EU and enjoying the continued benefits of a shared language and historical, economic and familial connections. There are details to be resolved about the extent of devolution, but Dublin would need to retain its own parliament – it might even have more power than it does now as a minnow within the EU (as we’re now seeing with Brussels’ insistence that it raise its levels of Corporation Tax).
Of course politics and history mean that neither of my brilliant solutions is likely to bear fruit, but can anyone suggest anything better?

Last edited 3 years ago by Andrew D
Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew D

The second option would indeed be an excellent solution. As for the ‘Prods’ leaving for Scotland, I’m not sure that this is the kind of immigration that Scotland would welcome. The ‘Prods’ are too white and too British.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Also would we get to send the Irish Catholics back

Fred Atkinstalk
Fred Atkinstalk
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Scotland already has more than its fair share of religious bigots (see Ethniciodo Rodenydo’s comment below).

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew D

Plan B or your second option is in effect a return to the situation in 1801, and a splendid idea.

The original (1730’s) Parliament Building still stands although now used as a Counting House for some Irish Moneylenders (I forget which).

It was also Sinn FĂ©in’s preferred option when they were founded in 1903. One Monarch, Two Kingdoms, rather similar to the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary.

Last edited 3 years ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
Andrew D
Andrew D
3 years ago

Yes, a fine Palladian building which could easily revert to its intended use

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago

Republic of Ireland Chose to leave The Commonwealth in 1949 a big Mistake,as england is its best customer,likewise for celtic Wales &Scotland

Neil Mcalester
Neil Mcalester
3 years ago
Reply to  Robin Lambert

If it was a big mistake then what price did they pay?
What other country in the entire world benefits from an arrangement as one sided as the Common Travel Area?

Frederick B
Frederick B
3 years ago
Reply to  Neil Mcalester

Well said. The CTA made sense so long as the Irish Free State was a dominion of the Crown, but as soon as it became a Republic in 1949 it should have become just another foreign country with no special access for its produce or its surplus labour.

Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago
Reply to  Frederick B

The CTA made sense, not because of the form of government in the Irish Free State (as was), but because of the common history and culture, and more importantly because of the extensive movement of people between Ireland and Britain, and most importantly, because of the complex web of relationships across the land border between Northern Ireland and the Free State. Those crucial factors continued after the establishment of the Irish Republic, and continue today. The establishment of the EU single market strengthened the cross-border commercial, culturel and political relationship, as did the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement.
Brexit has… complicated this on a number of levels.

Peadar Laighléis
Peadar Laighléis
3 years ago
Reply to  Robin Lambert

That was due to the then Taoiseach, John A. Costello, having a fit of pique during a state visit to Canada. The Orangemen in Toronto provoked him.

Jim Jones
Jim Jones
3 years ago

A splendid idea for all except for Ireland where the GDP per capita is almost twice that of the UK

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago
Reply to  Jim Jones

Only thanks to ludicrously low Corporation Tax, and for how much longer?

Ian Moore
Ian Moore
2 years ago
Reply to  Jim Jones

GDP is an exceptionally poor marker to use in relation to Ireland.

David Boulding
David Boulding
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew D

Scotland is peopled by the Irish who invaded Scotland. The planters were just going home to Ireland.

jannuary54
jannuary54
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew D

What about the U.K. re-entering the Single Market? Problem solved!

Andrew D
Andrew D
3 years ago
Reply to  jannuary54

I was looking for a democratic solution, not one that denied it

J StJohn
J StJohn
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew D

We voted to join the single market in the first referendum by a much larger margin than we voted to leave the EU federation.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
3 years ago
Reply to  J StJohn

The Single Market didn’t exist in 1975.

Jos Haynes
Jos Haynes
3 years ago
Reply to  J StJohn

No one voted to join the Single Market (which was created in 1993). Major just signed us up without asking us. In 1975 we voted on joinng a trading bloc – that was the story – though if anyone bothered to read the Treaty of Rome they would have understood exactly where the EEC was heading. But the politicians lied then, as they lie today.
Here’s an interesting fact for you: the UK ‘s trade with the Rest of the World increased faster than our trade with the EU from 1999 on. By 2015 our exports to the EU were just 44% of the total (from a high of around 55%) and this despite the fact the EU had grown in population by 100 per cent since the ’75 Referendum as a result of enlargement. The picture is the same on imports though less marked. Considering the EU market is on our doorstep and there were no tariff barriers, why was the trade growth so much less than with others?
Perhaps it’s because trade thrives on complementarity not proximity. It will take time and education to show up the myths associated with the Single Market.

Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew D

We could always democratically decide to re-enter the Single Market.
After all, as we were told during the referendum campaign, the vote was about leaving the EU not leaving the Single Market.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  jannuary54

Because chump why would we (UK) want to join Eurozone trade where since 1973 Uk has been in Trade arrears(Red) for 45/47 years?..

J StJohn
J StJohn
3 years ago
Reply to  Robin Lambert

Because, twit, they’re our next door neighbours, and it’s best for all concerned if we get along, especially in trade, otherwise we’ll all be poorer

Chris Stapleton
Chris Stapleton
3 years ago
Reply to  J StJohn

There’s “getting along” and there’s getting shafted. I think I know the difference.

Phil Rees
Phil Rees
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew D

I like the second option but it is completely impracticable as long as Sinn Fein continue to wink and a nod see the rifle as a weapon of choice. The Republic has never itself dealt with the problem of the IRA, which has not gone away, but simply gone quiet. Any attempt to implement your option 2 would see that IRA immediately cease its quietness.
So your first option it must be, though that risks the north resorting to the rifle. But that would at least have the advantage of being the problem for the united Ireland to sort out and not the English.

J StJohn
J StJohn
3 years ago
Reply to  Phil Rees

There are quite a few English prepared to arm the unionists to prevent them being coerced. Like last time.

nick woods
nick woods
3 years ago
Reply to  J StJohn

It would interesting. to the Irish Army dealing with the UVF and UDA.They are the reason goods are sailing in from Stranraer as pre 1.1.21.Any EU “officials” from France or Germany stationed in Belfast to enforce their petty rules?The EU in it’s Potemkin village absurdity is irrelevant in the21st century.The Emperor is naked,the tiger only paper.Btw absorbing N.I would bankrupt Dublin.

Simon Baseley
Simon Baseley
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew D

Anything better? Yes. Draw a line from the Wash down to Bristol and declare everything below it the state of Southland. At a stroke Southlanders would be free from all the moaners and could get with giving ourselves more of the wealth which we create but currently have to hand over to others.
Excluded from Southland, the Scots could have the oil revenues and the Euro (good luck with that), the Welsh can see how they get on making a living from their main exports of doilies and lava bread and Northern Ireland, already the world centre for Balaclava production, could look to expand into other areas.  I have not yet come up with a final plan for those areas of England north of the line and I am willing to hear proposals from other Unherd correspondents.

Chris C
Chris C
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon Baseley

In Northern England, we would be delighted to lose the entitled third raters who have ridden the golden conveyor belt of privilege to positions they would not have achieved on their own ability (as Dominic Cummings put it, Boris lacks the competence which Britain deserves). And we would not be ruled by the City of London, which regards selling off British businesses to foreigners as “generating wealth” because it generates fees for corporate lawyers and Mergers & Acquisitions specialists.

rosie mackenzie
rosie mackenzie
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew D

Putting the EU border in the Celtic Sea is the obvious solution, and Southern Ireland recognizing that most of her trade is with the UK and America.

Last edited 3 years ago by rosie mackenzie
Neil Mcalester
Neil Mcalester
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew D

I find it fascinating when people propose solutions that they themselves admit will never work.

-“ The first is that Ireland unites and – since that seems to be its preference, even in the north”

There is around 25% support in N. Ireland for reunification. Do you suggest the other 75% should be forced out of the UK? Can you imagine what that will lead to?

Reuniting ROI with the UK would have, at a guess, maybe 3 or 4 percent support in the south and 50% would probably fight to the death to prevent it.

The IRA were just about defeated when Blair decided to stick his oar in and we’ve been paying the price ever since.

The only way to defeat a bully is to stand up to them, the only way.

And that applies to the EU and SF equally. Nothing else will work.

Zorro Tomorrow
Zorro Tomorrow
3 years ago
Reply to  Neil Mcalester

A recent Ashcroft poll found 51% of NI support unification if 6% don’t knows are included. https://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/slight-majority-for-unification-in-northern-ireland-poll-1.4015170

Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago
Reply to  Zorro Tomorrow

In what sense do the “don’t knows” support unification?

Andrew D
Andrew D
3 years ago
Reply to  Neil Mcalester

You only quoted the first half of my sentence. The majority I was referring to was for remaining in the EU, not for reunification.
On the latter, the last survey I saw was 47% in NI who wanted to remain part of the union and 42% who wanted reunification. As we all know the boundary was rigged to ensure a Protestant and unionist majority in the north, but demographics will turn that round eventually.
I didn’t propose a solution that I admitted would never work. I proposed a solution which I acknowledged would probably never happen. Not the same thing.

Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew D

“the boundary was rigged to ensure a Protestant and unionist majority in the north”

Given that no feasible border could ever satisfy everyone, couldn’t you make the case that it was actually the democratic thing to do, to have a border that ensured a large majority of its inhabitants felt themselves to be on the right side of it?

rosie mackenzie
rosie mackenzie
3 years ago
Reply to  Neil Mcalester

The IRA had been comprehensively infiltrated and roundly defeated. Blair made a craven capitulation on all fronts to a defeated enemy and allowed a foreign power to have a say in part of our country in the future. Hence the South’s impertinent interference now. It is incredible. But then everything he did is incredible.

Last edited 3 years ago by rosie mackenzie
Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago

Blair’s “craven capitulation” was endorsed by a referendum in Northern Ireland (by a larger majority than the Brexit Referendum, interestingly enough). Notwithstanding your personal assessment of the security situation, all sides in Northern Ireland, and the Irish and UK governments, judged that concessions were needed to achieve peace.
The peace is not perfect, but countless lives have been saved. One hopes that brinkmanship around the Northern Ireland Protocol will not undo this.

Neil Mcalester
Neil Mcalester
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul N

The peace is a very long way from perfect. The majority that voted for the GFA, myself included, naively expected republicans to play fair. What we got in return for compromise was a rewriting of history and SF continuing to be run by the IRA army council.
The NI protocol is a case in point, the Irish Sea border contravenes everything that the GFA was supposed to protect, but that’s ok because it suits a nationalist agenda.
Countless lives have been saved perhaps, another way of putting it is that the IRA stopped murdering women and children because they were given what they wanted without having to go to the bother of getting their hands dirty. Their implicit threats of violence hang over the whole island. A peaceful society will never emerge from such a birth.

Michael McVeigh
Michael McVeigh
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew D

Eventually, when England gets its own Legislative Assembly & Scotland/Wales demand further power, the UK will transform to The Federation of the United Kingdom.
Then the EU will eventually collapse and Ireland will join the new Federation of the British Isles.
Peace at last.

Andrew D
Andrew D
3 years ago

Peace indeed, but not in our time

Chris Hopwood
Chris Hopwood
3 years ago

 “and Ireland will join the new Federation of the British Isles”………….and I will win the lottery on Saturday!

Chris Stapleton
Chris Stapleton
3 years ago

This “Federation of the United Kingdom”: would it involve the continued outward flow of English money? I think it would, so no thanks.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago

Agreed, such largesse must cease immediately.
The recipients are universally ungrateful, and like a ‘substance abuser’ continually bleat for more and more.
We must jettison these beggars for once and for all.
We ‘owe’ them nothing!

Sam McLean
Sam McLean
3 years ago

I am not ungrateful Charles: I will be forever grateful that it causes such pain to bitter little men like you. It’s just a shame that you and your ilk will all be dead soon. Slainte! p.s. please send more money.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago
Reply to  Sam McLean

Spoken like a true beggar. Thank you for being so frank.

Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago

Maybe they should establish the Democratic Republic of Threadneedle Street, so the Banksters can make their own rules, make loadsamoney, and not pay any taxes to support the freeloaders in the Home Counties.

Jim Jones
Jim Jones
3 years ago

Well England wouldn’t be the richest nation so perhaps not

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago

So: was it worth the UK staying in the EU so that we could keep Northern Ireland?
To ask the question is to know the answer.
The author is right. Decades of insult to the English have made the English flex their electoral muscle and finally, finally, finally vote for what’s best for the English. What is the actual benefit to England of being in a union with Northern Ireland, by the way?
Thanks to a lot of things, but mainly thanks to Blair, we now have a constructive English nationalist government for the first time in 300 years. Like the horrid, bent little regional parties of the minor countries always have been, it’s focused on what’s best for England. These nasty, racist, parasitical little cesspits can all go under the bus, frankly.
Every Labour government inflicted on England has relied on Scottish “voots”; none has ever won a majority in England, and now thanks to Blair never will.
I abstained in the Brexit vote, but if I’d realised it was a chance to get shot of Scotland and Northern Ireland, I’d have voted Leave.

Eileen Conn
Eileen Conn
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

A federal system for the whole of the British Isles is a logical solution. But it couldn’t be a stable one with one of the 5 main parties ie England being so large compared with the rest. There would have to be moves to devolving governance to the English regions somehow, and there the dominance of London and SE in England is another obstacle. Can future articles and discussions also comment on this issue of how to remove the domination of England in the UK and of London and the SE within England. And also include consideration for the other islands that have their own independent governance arrangements eg Jersey, Guernsey, Isle of Man.

Phil Rees
Phil Rees
3 years ago
Reply to  Eileen Conn

That amounts to saying that the answer to the problems of NI and Scotland lies in destroying England as it currently is. No thanks, we can manage just fine.

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
3 years ago
Reply to  Eileen Conn

I think I will settle for independence for England, Leaving NI and Scotland to do whatever they want.

Chris Stapleton
Chris Stapleton
3 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

That’s more like it.

marklucas8809
marklucas8809
3 years ago
Reply to  Eileen Conn

It is an interesting thought experiment to consider a federal UK, and yes the problem is what to do about England, approximately 80% of the total. A first step would be somehow to get away from the reality that whoever is Primeminister of England is also the UK Primeminister.
Many in England are frustrated by the over-dominance of London and the Home counties, and governance by a narrow elite of Etonians. Yet it is hard to imagine England being split after 1,000 years as a unitary state, fun though it is to imagine re-establishing the Heptarchy.

Red Reynard
Red Reynard
3 years ago
Reply to  Eileen Conn

Eileen, there is a lovely shiny building in St James’ Park, in Newcastle upon Tyne; it was designed and designated to be the political seat of the ‘Northern Assembly’. The wonderful Mr Blair tempted, nudged, and cajoled the people of the North East to take part in a referendum for a ‘Northern Assembly’, the people – those who could be bothered to take part (like me) overwhelmingly threw out the very idea; and very sensibly, too.
Although there is a Mercian Independence movement, so who knows….

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago
Reply to  Red Reynard

Blair should tried retrospectively for High Treason.

Chris C
Chris C
3 years ago
Reply to  Eileen Conn

No country in the world trades on WTO terms. They all have deals which give them better terms than the WTO version.
But I am forgetting, Boris said “F*** Business”.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago
Reply to  Eileen Conn

No, exactly wrong. A federation must explicitly recognise the supremacy of England among the constituent countries, and its dominance must be properly reflected, otherwise England gets milked by racists in Scotland and wherever else. No, no, no.

Chris Stapleton
Chris Stapleton
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Cake and eat it time. Independence and the continued supply of English money. Very funny.

Chris Stapleton
Chris Stapleton
3 years ago
Reply to  Eileen Conn

Divide England into bite-sized regional chunks for eventual consumption by the EU, whilst maintaing the outward flow of English money. No thanks.

David Boulding
David Boulding
3 years ago

Blair was dividing the UK into regions for the EU so he could be President of Europe, hence devolution. Blair’s hand poisoned everything he touched

Gavin McDaid
Gavin McDaid
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

You should ask your English government to deliver English independence.

Peter Dunn
Peter Dunn
3 years ago
Reply to  Gavin McDaid

England is not ‘dependent’..never has been.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago
Reply to  Gavin McDaid

What English government? England is under direct rule from Westminster.

Gavin McDaid
Gavin McDaid
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

I’m using your own words back at you.

machina22
machina22
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Not quite true about every Labour government relying on Scottish votes. The following elections produced majorities for Labour even if you cut out Scotland entirely:

  • 1945 – majority of 142 without Scotland
  • 1950 – miniscule majority of 2 without Scotland
  • 1966 – majority of 76 without Scotland
  • 1997 – majority of 136 without Scotland
  • 2001 – majority of 124 without Scotland
  • 2005 – majority of 40 without Scotland

It does dramatically reduce the number of Labour governments, however. And if Scotland were to leave then it would make future Labour administrations vanishingly rare.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  machina22

Demographics,and racial Change Would Not happen Now..Lib-lab-Cons-Green-Plaid-Snp ARE the problem..

J StJohn
J StJohn
3 years ago
Reply to  machina22

Worth remembering though, Blair only forced though student loans for English students, with the support of the Scots MP’s. Who were promised that the English would pay tuition for the Scots students, as well as their own children.

rosie mackenzie
rosie mackenzie
3 years ago
Reply to  machina22

That is why the left want to break up England and always have. Lots of little Burnhams and Khans is what they want ruling us.

Last edited 3 years ago by rosie mackenzie
Chris C
Chris C
3 years ago

Because those people are elected by the local electors. They don’t have someone two hundred miles away imposed on them by parasitic bankers from the Home Counties.

Phil Rees
Phil Rees
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

This gets my vote for the best and most realistic comment so far.

M H
M H
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Labour won most votes in England in the 1945, 1950, 1951, 1966, October 1974, 1987, 2001, and 2005 elections.
Labour won most seats in England in the 1945, 1966, October 1974, 1997, 2001, and 2005 elections.

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Quite a few of the staunch Northern Irish Proestants actually moved there from Scotland in the 19th century & confusingly Catholic Irish moved to Scotland- so have a sort of swap?

J StJohn
J StJohn
3 years ago
Reply to  kathleen carr

Scotland only voted ‘Remain’ because of their Irish contingent

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago
Reply to  J StJohn

I didn’t know that-I thought it was the old sentiment of auld alliance. I know the divisions cause problems with some football supporters.

Chris C
Chris C
3 years ago
Reply to  J StJohn

The vote was 62:38, I believe.
That’s a lot of the population you are going to have to imply have no valid view (24% of the votes cast), before you can get to level pegging.

Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris C

Who knew there were so many Irish people living in Scotland?
I’ve also read that Wales only voted leave because of their English contingent. Is that true?

Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

“we now have a constructive English nationalist government for the first time in 300 years. Like the horrid, bent little regional parties of the minor countries always have been, it’s focused on what’s best for England. These nasty, racist, parasitical little cesspits can all go under the bus, frankly.”

How on earth did the Conservatives get the name of the Nasty Party? I’m mystified!

Jim Jones
Jim Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Except we don’t have an English nationalist government we have a reactionary populist one but they seem to have fooled you with their shtick

Dustin Needle
Dustin Needle
3 years ago

I worked in Belfast for a while and don’t dispute the general image of NI as presented in para 3. I simply refuse to believe that it was beyond the intelligence of EU/UK mandarins to simply put GFA at the centre of the new arrangement and work around that. But as the author says – “Why would the EU listen? Why would it do as it’s told?”
Well maybe because they keep telling the world they are a “peace project”?
The UK politicians who cheered the EU on in it’s attempts to weaponise the border agreement are culpable here. They didn’t have the courage of their convictions to push through and seize the process to openly destroy Brexit, preferring instead to hide behind flying flags and nonsense like the “People’s Vote”. I hope they all rot in hell.

Last edited 3 years ago by Dustin Needle
Ian nclfuzzy
Ian nclfuzzy
3 years ago
Reply to  Dustin Needle

The EU even has a Nobel Peace Prize!

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Dustin Needle

Boris (the one that promised not to put a border in the Irish Sea) negotiated the deal, won an election with the “oven ready deal” and signed the deal…but Remoaners in the Lib Dem and Labor party are to blame!

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

“…but Remoaners in the Lib Dem and Labor party are to blame!”
That is correct Jeremy. Remainers and Remoaners wanted only to block Brexit, without a care for the consequences. Sometimes Jeremy, you have to look at yourself in the mirror and acknowledge what you have done.

Chris C
Chris C
3 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

Get real. Boris negotiated the agreement.

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

“..the Tories sold Electorate a pup & Brexit Party believed the establishment,”
The Tory Party and the entire establishment, almost to a man, bitterly opposed Brexit.
“Do you believe the Scum globalists will bow to democracy?”
Well that is pretty much what they were obliged to do.
If you want to use abusive language perhaps you should restrict your comments to your Twitter account.

David Slawson
David Slawson
3 years ago

The great disappointment with this article is that the author completely ignores the fact that it was EU intransigence that rejected the current border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and insisted that it be placed between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. Yes, Theresa May’s incompetent negotiation abetted the situation but the EU knew exactly the consequences of their actions. Sadly, these consequences have come to pass.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
3 years ago
Reply to  David Slawson

I don’t think the EU did know exactly the consequences, but I don’t think they cared very much either, because they killed two birds with one stone; one was that they could demonstrate loyalty to a member (which without sufficient thought advocated a policy it thought would bring union closer), while the other was that they obtained a massive source of leverage to thwart Brexit, or failing that,exact never-ending concessions.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 years ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

Spot on, and a point that seems conveniently ignored by most people.

David Boulding
David Boulding
3 years ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

Martin Selmayr articulated it by saying the cost of Brexit would mean territorial loss for the UK. The EU has shown itself to be a hostile foreign power.

nick woods
nick woods
3 years ago
Reply to  David Boulding

Selmayr’s grandfather was convicted of war atrocities by a Jugoslav court and imprisoned.Thr US managed to get him released and he went on to head the West German secret service.America turning a blind eye to prominent unreformed Nazis in the EU is a byword, notably. Walter Hallstein the first European president and founder of the ECJ.

John Molloy
John Molloy
3 years ago
Reply to  David Slawson

More nonsense. The imposition of a hard border on the island of Ireland would have breached the Good Friday Agreement. Not that that would have stopped Boris. However, he needs a trade deal with the US and he won’t get it if Brexit results in a hard border. The EU is, as usual, only following its own rules.

J StJohn
J StJohn
3 years ago
Reply to  John Molloy

The UK has a common travel area with the republic. It was the EU, not the UK, which required a hard border.

rosie mackenzie
rosie mackenzie
3 years ago
Reply to  John Molloy

The Belfast Agreement says nothing about the border. It does however say the constitutional place of NI within the UK shall not be changed without the majority consent of the people. It is that part, the central part, which has been violated at the EU and Southern Ireland’s insistence, and is being upheld now by the aggressive IRA backing Biden regime.

Jim Jones
Jim Jones
3 years ago

Yh the man you despise really saved you with that eventually the Tories would have tired of NI but know we can’t get rid of you without the consent of the Northern Irish people

David Boulding
David Boulding
3 years ago
Reply to  John Molloy

The splitting off of NI with the UK also breaks the GFA.

Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago
Reply to  David Boulding

If only someone had pointed out the problems that might follow Brexit. Oh, wait…

Last edited 3 years ago by Paul N
Louise Henson
Louise Henson
3 years ago

Talking of blaming the English is convenient but wrong. It was the EU that weaponised the Irish border to try if possible to overturn the result of the referendum or failing that to maintain as far as possible the status quo.
And I would then ask why Northern Ireland is always somebody else’s problem to solve? It’s your country. From our perspective your refusal to live together peacefully with your fellow citizens is becoming beyond endurance.

Phil Rees
Phil Rees
3 years ago
Reply to  Louise Henson

Hear hear to your final sentence.

rosie mackenzie
rosie mackenzie
3 years ago
Reply to  Louise Henson

There were just two nations living in NI and it was generations before one side started attacking the other out of resentment and grievance. Given the number of new nations we have taken in on the mainland, do you really think there won’t be similar strife down the generations, greatly multiplied?

Chris Bradshaw
Chris Bradshaw
3 years ago

I don’t think England cares any more. I think that, as with Scotland, many here would be glad to be rid of the, pardon the word, trouble. None of the grievances are of any concern to generations under 40 on the eastern side of the Irish Sea; indeed with the decline in Christian practise and lack of focus on the British Isles in much school-level history teaching, they are probably downright confusing to many. I get the feeling that the growing consensus in England is “Leave them to it.” This could uncharitably be translated to “Give ’em enough rope.”

rosie mackenzie
rosie mackenzie
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Bradshaw

If people don’t care about a foreign power annexing part of their country then they are irredeemably decadent.

Chris Hopwood
Chris Hopwood
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Bradshaw

NIreland has never bothered to cultivate the British – it has separate political parties and would like to have separate laws (but want Britiah money. That’s why Brits regard it’s people as Irish and would be glad to be shot of the place

Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Hopwood

“N Ireland …would like to have separate laws” 

It does have separate laws, as does Scotland.
As for separate political parties, it is up to Labour and the Conservatives whether to organise in Northern Ireland. Labour don’t, but at least they no longer expel members who move there. The Conservatives do organise in NI, but for some reason they don’t get many votes.

Last edited 3 years ago by Paul N
Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

I broadly agree with your post, to the extent that I am familiar with the situation in NI. However, I think it’s a little unfair to suggest that the Conservative party chose to ‘morph’ into an English party. It wasn’t really their choice, but largely a combination of Celtic grievance (justified or otherwise) and devolution.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago

Granted, I always drag this up when the status of NI is called into question in terms of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, but that agreement was a long grass agreement to disagree between the UK and Éire (note the accent on the ‘E’ there, vitally important to include it and surprised the author missed it off given his obvious leanings) and was predicated on the Principle of Consent of ALL the parties involved, not just Northern Irish Catholics as now seems to be the case.

Andrew Anderson
Andrew Anderson
3 years ago

The IRA was a terrorist organisation, like ETA and Isis. When Gebler writes this that “the IRA and the British State were at war. We call it the Troubles but trust me, it was a nasty, dirty, vicious civil war”, he puts terrorists on a par with a liberal democratic sovereign state (for all its faults). Anyone who can’t see how objectionable this is should read Who Was Responsible For Troubles, by Liam Kennedy.

Northern Ireland was and is a divided society, but the IRA, and the Loyalist paramilitaries whose activities were largely in reaction to theirs, had no legitimate grievances that couldn’t have been resolved peacefully: that’s what happens in a democracy.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
3 years ago

The Protocol is not just down to the English. The Scottish Government popped up frequently in Brussels during the long years of negotiation to encourage the Commission to be as tough as possible. Presumably Sturgeon thought that the worse the final deal for the UK, the better the case for independence. Essentially, she was willing economic damage on Scotland and every other part of the UK in the hope of advancing her cause. I don’t think treasonous is too colourful a description of her behaviour.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago

Correct, she should suffer the same penalty of her late hero Sir William Wallace.
Smithfield is still available for such a spectacle, but who will provide the firelighters?
.

rosie mackenzie
rosie mackenzie
3 years ago

English remainers were doing the same.

Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago

Ah, the Scooby Doo defence – “Brexit would have been a magnificent success if it hadn’t been for those pesky kids.”

Last edited 3 years ago by Paul N
Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago

the Conservative party has, sadly, morphed from a British political party into an English one

Why is that sad?

dunnmalcolm966
dunnmalcolm966
3 years ago

What a self pitying article. It’s interesting that the first group of people the author mentions are ‘the prisoners’ ie terrorists. Why should they be anything other than bottom of anyone’s priorities?

Dorothy Webb
Dorothy Webb
3 years ago

This is a very sad article. I love the Irish people, north and south. It’s sad that there are little groups of fanatics on both sides who won’t come to terms with history, who won’t forgive each other – or us English who are always being blamed for things that certain men chose to do in the past. It would be great if the south chose to be reconciled to us and rejoin the UK instead of being bribed to remain in the EU. We have got the same heritage and we ought to stick together through thick and thin. There is a lot of talk of hatred these days, and of racism, but those who are most guilty won’t admit it.

Chris C
Chris C
3 years ago
Reply to  Dorothy Webb

They don’t think we have the same heritage. They spent a century or more fighting to re-establish their longer-term identity. Eire is not going to rejoin the UK. And frankly, if there were any chance of that (which there isn’t), the susceptibility of the English for public school t*ssers like David Cameron and Boris Johnson would knock it on the head.
So there is a UK outside the EU, and an Eire inside the EU, and there is therefore necessarily a border between the two.

John Molloy
John Molloy
3 years ago
Reply to  Dorothy Webb

We were united in the EU. Your country decided to leave. Why, exactly, should we have followed?

William Cameron
William Cameron
3 years ago

The Eu used Ireland as a device to extract advantage . In doing so it publicly claimed it had created its first colony.
The subsequent fudge is largely unworkable -and is an EU bureaucrats delight in that it affords them huge power over day to day supplies- with zero political accountability.
This mess is all due to the EU . The Uk would have been better to have torn up all the discussion and gone for WTO terms . That would have neutralised the ill intentioned EU . It would have placed the Eu – with its huge export surplus to the Uk in the position of supplicant.
Having said all that none of this justifies violence against anyone.

Chris C
Chris C
3 years ago

“The Uk would have been better to have torn up all the discussion and gone for WTO terms . That would have …… placed the Eu – with its huge export surplus to the Uk in the position of supplicant.”

The EU takes 45% of our exports.
We take 6-8% of theirs.
Who would be the supplicant? Which side can’t do without the other?