When People in the British Empire struggled to free themselves of colonialism, they had to pay a price. India was divided into artificial States, East Africa was split into colonial constructed boundaries that cut across hundreds of years old tribal settlements and the Middle East is still grappling with territorial disputes. With that experience behind it Britain should have known that the so called freedom from Europe wasn’t going to be without a territorial price. Northern Ireland is the territory that England will have to offer in return for freedom.
Financial consequences apart, it is territory that will have to be sacrificed whether now or later. It is finally dawning on the leave leaders seeking a deal and some no deal with EU, that Northern Ireland is the price that England will have to pay for wrenching itself from EU. Many leavers are still in denial and think what happened to others in the colonies cannot surely happen to England. Reality unfortunately does not treat any country as the land of gods.
Blaming EU negotiators for not showing flexibility is silly. A country that has been giving lectures to the rest of the world on rule of law and follow procedures seems extraordinarily to want to be excluded from following rules itself. Is there any reason Britain should not follow rules of membership it signed up to and respect membership obligations that bind the club together in a vision?
The EU came together with a vision. That vision has four pillars essential to it staying together. The EU has already given enough concessions to UK for it to remain attached with the European family. To expect the EU to weaken the pillars that maintain its unity for the sake of keeping Britain as a partner is quite frankly an ingenuous call. Do the leavers think Britain is so important that others should fall beneath the bus for the British? It is interesting that some Conservatives still think that England is above all the laws and rules it makes for ‘others’. Isn’t it arrogance beyond call?
It shouldn’t be difficult to understand the Northern Irish conundrum. Coming out of EU means that there will no longer be free movement of people or goods between the United Kingdom and Europe. Agreements will have to be made that benefit both Britain and EU.
Ireland (Southern Ireland) is part of EU and wants to stay in there. If there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and rest of Ireland, then surely goods can go without paying duties into each other’s territory and consequently into Europe. Similarly people can freely move in and out as if UK never came out of EU. However as Europeans go into Northern Ireland and then seek to go to England, they will be stopped at ports and airports as they will have to show passports. The British on the other hand could go into a part of Europe, that is Ireland, without problems!
It is the goods that EU is concerned about. Without a border, Northern Ireland could become a haven for smugglers trying to bypass EU tariffs. Without a hard border, the UK will effectively be within EU without having to follow its rules. So why would the EU permit that? Is it rocket science to understand that?
The problem is that if a hard border, really meaning a customs border, does come into existence, the Irish problem will start all over again with Republicanism resuming the campaign to unite Ireland while Unionists desperately trying to stay within UK.
Northern Ireland is the elephant in the room. It cannot be ignored but everyone wishes it wasn’t there. The only way the issue will be resolved is for England to let go off Northern Ireland and let it decide its own future, whether to emerge as an independent country or join the rest of Ireland. No doubt Sinn Fein is waiting for that moment. Sinn Fein is the largely Northern Irish Catholic party that wants to break away from Britain and join Republic of Ireland (Southern Ireland currently).
Even if stop gap agreements are made, somewhere in the future the so called independence of England can only become a reality if Northern Ireland is sacrificed. The alternative of course is to stay within Europe and trudge along with a unity Government in Northern Ireland as it was before the referendum.
If Northern Ireland moves away from UK, Scotland will inevitably want to do so as well. Brexit is an expensive territorial cost for England and Wales.
Nigel Farage is perhaps the only Brexiter who was honest enough and said that Brexit was about independence and nothing else. However he didn’t spell out the Irish dilemma, just as he didn’t venture into ultimate financial down turn for UK after Brexit. Freedom always comes at a price, both financial and territorial.
The choice in the final days of this faltering deal making exercise is simple. Either sacrifice Norther Ireland in the long run and gain freedom from Europe, or remain within Europe and keep the shaky status of Norther Ireland as it is.
In some ways it is the Northern Ireland’s Unionist Party (protestants who want to remain in the Union with Britain), the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) which can make a decision for Britain now. It can keep on propping up a Conservative Government’s Brexit plans and lead to ultimate separation of Northern Ireland from UK or it can ditch that support, bring down Conservatives and insist on a second referendum to reverse the Brexit decision.