The problem with Brexit and the Irish border is that the British government is unclear on the distinction between the post-Brexit Irish border and one of those new smart phones with an infinity display. Brexiteers are trying to convince themselves that one of those things can be made borderless with technology, then the other jolly well can too. Brexiteers are counting on a high tech solution which will allow them to have their dream of a virtual no border which is really a hard border. It will be a sort of quantum Schrodinger’s border which manages to be simultaneously a border without being a border at all.
Unfortunately for the swivel eyed members of the Conservative cabinet who’ve apparently been bitten by a Ukip vampire, it’s only the technology for the smart phone which currently exists in our universe. You can buy one of those in any mobile phone or computer retailer near you. The borderless hard border that’s no border on the other hand, isn’t yet on special offer for Black Friday in your local branch of Curry’s. There are two terms for hoping that technology which hasn’t been invented yet is going to solve all your problems. The polite term is science fiction. The more realistic term is bat-shit crazy delusional.
The Irish government isn’t prepared to wait until the UK government can buy a solution to the border question from Shift-Shaft, the mobile network run by people on glue, and is growing increasingly frustrated by the British attitude. So frustrated that someone in the Irish foreign office leaked an internal report from Irish diplomats which essentially boiled down to the following:
“Those Brits? Jeeeeeeezus, Mary, and Joseph. They’re feckin mental eejits who make Dougal from Father Ted seem clued in so they are. See David Davis? See Dougal? Dougal’s the one with his finger on the pulse. Small or far away? Small or far away? David Davis’s understanding of the Brexit process is both small and far away at the same time. And don’t start us on that English upper class stereotype that is Boris feckin Johnson. He gives balloons a bad name, at least the gas that fills a balloon serves a useful purpose. The only surprising thing about that refugee from an Edwardian melodrama is that he doesn’t have a moustache to twiddle. He’s so thick he doesn’t even realise that in this scenario, the UK’s the one that’s been tied to the railway track. They are so screwed. And we won’t even be mentioning Michael Gove on account of the nausea. There are wee worms living around hydrothermal vents at the bottom of the Pacific who’ve got a firmer grasp on the realities of the negotiations than any of that lot. There’s more of a chance that Mother Brown’s Boys will come up with some innovative comedy than there is of any those clowns coming up with a solution to the border issue. For feck’s sake.”
And that’s the diplomatic version.
The anger and frustration from Dublin is perfectly understandable. So far Britain’s approach to the question of the Irish border has been that of someone who throws their dinner on the floor, smashes all the crockery, and then demands that Ireland and the EU clean up the mess, make a new dinner, and take pottery lessons so they can replace the broken plates and mugs. Ireland, not surprisingly, is of the view that it was the UK which caused this problem and it’s incumbent upon the UK to sort it out. Sadly however the British nationalists who animate the Brexit project have as much interest in what’s good for Northern Ireland as they do in what’s good for Scotland. Bugger all, in other words. Little England is going to get what Little England wants, and everyone else needs to fix any resultant problems because they’re not Little Englanders and so don’t need to be considered.
With the question of the Irish border post-Brexit, the issue of British exceptionalism comes crashing into cold hard reality. British nationalists have been so used to getting their own way in these islands for so long that they’re constitutionally incapable of conceptualising a situation in which they don’t have the upper hand. However that’s exactly where we are with the Brexit negotiations and the Irish border. This time it’s not the UK dealing with a country with less than a tenth of the population and a fraction of the GDP, this time it’s the UK dealing with the Republic of Ireland and 26 other members of the EU. Britain has promised that there will be no perceptible change on the Irish border, no border installations, no barriers to freedom of movement. It’s up to Britain to deliver.
Back in the real world, rather than the one inhabited by this Conservative bunch of no-marks, there’s only one realistic solution to the question of the Irish border. The Northern Irish DUP whose votes Theresa May depends on will never consent to a situation in which Northern Ireland remains in the customs union and the single market but the rest of the UK leaves. That would require customs checks between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. But if there is going to be special treatment for Northern Ireland, why not special treatment for Scotland, which voted to remain by an even larger margin than Northern Ireland did. Is it because of fear of violence? That’s hardly a resounding demonstration of having faith in democracy is it.
When the UK voted by the slimmest of majorites to leave the EU, people were not voting for hardest possible Brexit, the Brexit which the Tories have chosen to interpret in their own interests and not in the interests of the country. So there’s only one solution that actually works, and that’s for the whole of the UK to remain a part of the single market and the customs union. The Tories won’t agree to that, and Labour lacks the courage to stand up to the Brexiteers.
That means that all that is left is for Ireland to veto any deal. Ireland will receive assistance from the rest of the EU to make up for the damage to its economy. Britain will be on its own and the resultant mess is likely to lead to both the reunification of Ireland and to Scottish independence. The British state might aquiesce with Brexit being turned into a coup d’etat by right wing market extremists, but that doesn’t mean that Ireland, or Scotland, are going to suffer the consequences. One day soon, for both Scotland and Ireland, the self-inflicted arsewipery of the British state will be the problems of a small minded state that’s far away from our reality.
The Wee Ginger Dug has got a new domain name, thanks to Indy Poster Boy, Colin Dunn @Zarkwan. http://www.indyposterboy.scot/ You can now access this blog simply by typing www.weegingerdug.scot into the address bar of your browser, the old address continues to function, the new one redirects to the blog. The advantage of the new address is that it’s a lot easier to remember if you want to include a link to the blog in leaflets, posters, or simply to tell a friend about it. Many thanks to Colin.
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