Britain’s Brexit-Born Indifference And Antipathy To Peace In Ireland

There is a somewhat pessimistic belief among some Irish revolutionary republicans which can be best summed up as follows: “When it comes to Ireland the only thing the British respect or understand is the gun“. Finding justification through innumerable historical precedents, this philosophy continues to motivate those who seek a military end to the United Kingdom’s legacy colony in the north-east of the country. It is the reasoning of the so-called “Dissidents”, political activists and would-be insurgents alike, who see no other viable, short term path to freedom and unity but that gained through force of arms. The real tragedy, of course, is the casual manner in which the people of Britain so often provide fodder for this cynical reading of their attitudes to Irish affairs. From indifference to antipathy, in the eyes of many on this island-nation the inhabitants of the island-nation to the east have no regard whatsoever for the best interests of their neighbour to the west. On the contrary.

From the London Times:

People in Britain do not care about what happens to Northern Ireland after Brexit and would not strongly object to a hard border, research shows.

A study by the London School of Economics and Oxford University has found strong support among Remain and Leave voters for a hard Brexit.

Over half of Leave voters (52 per cent) said they would support full passport and customs checks after Brexit. Roughly the same amount of Remain voters supported an open border.

The report also found little difference between Remain and Leave voters on the possibility of a hard Brexit, with opinions from both groups falling within 5 percentage points on issues including UK immigration, trade barriers and the “divorce bill.”

The repeated claim by the domestic press, and by certain informed commentators, that there will be “no return to the violence or the Troubles of old“, has become something of a mantra for official Ireland. The belief that there will be no reversion to the decades-old conflict in the UK-administered Six Counties, regardless of what happens in the coming years, is the agreed narrative of the Brexit debacle. But with a possible “hard border” taking on the characteristics of a new “hard partition”, the bleak analysis by the Dissidents might find a larger – and more responsive – audience than many suspect.

 

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21 comments

  1. If trouble broke out again then there’s a good chance that the UK (government and public opinion) would just say “fuck the bloody Irish savages!” withdraw from the province and leave you to fight it out amongst yourselves. Cf. Palestine ?? There’s neither the will nor the resources in today’s UK to sort out your problems for you, an impossible task in any case. The NI situation is near incomprehensible to most ‘mainland’ Brits anyway.

        1. Yeah, I find the lack of an edit button in WordPress comments very frustrating. I understand the technical and practical reasons why it is set up like that but even a time-limited open edit option, 48 hours or similar, would do the trick.

    1. I wonder though. A fair chunk of British nationalism, of the Greater England variety, is bound up in retaining the last remnant of the Irish colony. It might not be conspicuous in the political or popular culture but dig down deep and there is something there. A revanchist feeling that Ireland as a whole is not really foreign, should not really be independent, and that the Irish should be subservient to the British. It’s an almost “enemy of my blood” thing. Maybe the “New Britain” might feel differently but it was “Old Britain” which carried Brexit. Or perhaps the Old has co-opted the New to its way of thinking?

      If Germany could “go mad” in the 1930s why not Britain in the 2010s? Not to the same extent at all, and Germany didn’t really lose its collective mind, but countries can be swayed by all sorts of historical, cultural, social and economic forces.

      The post-Brexit UK is showing every indication of becoming a far more insular and nationalist – and in your face – neighbour. That will surely filter out into popular sentiment.

      1. Could be, but I don’t really see it. The DUP were co-opted to save May’s skin (“bought and sold for Engish gold”, just like of old, a new “Parcel of Rogues”?) but their off-the-wall total bat-shit antediluvian creationist cant will find little resonance in C21 Britain. If anything it will simply add to the impression that Ireland, esp. NI is a very foreign place and so “nothing to do with us”. When the lifebelt turns out to be really a lead weight, I’m sure it will be happily abandoned. As I’ve already pointed out, the UK has form here.

        1. Maybe, but look at the UK reaction to the EU and Spanish position on Gibraltar. Yes, a few Tory politicians and the usual suspects in the Daily Mail and Sun went OTT but… One suspects that a fair chunk of the UK population would countenance more belligerent action should it ever be deemed politic to act so in Whitehall and Downing Street.

          1. Gibraltar, yes, but that’s a very different kettle of fish to NI. Gib is _perceived_ as little more than an extension of Sussex with better weather. The fact that the population there is very mixed, with not just Spanish folk but people from all around the Med, mainly from former British colonies, rather escapes popular attention. Rather it’s seen as somewhere to go on holiday, and if you’re sufficiently well-off, retire to. No one in their senses would retire to Norn Iron now would they? Chalk ‘n’ cheese.

      2. This is almost exactly my opinion on the issue. Although I expect with climate change it is more likely that the UK annexes Ireland and learning lessons from the past, kills ever single inhabitant than they just up and leave.

  2. Just remember: If it is true, you don’t need to tell people, they will already know. Only one thing requires constant repetition.

  3. I think that we are now moving towards a catastrophe in the North of Ireland. A “Third Partition” now appears inevitable. it will not be peaceful, as communities on both sides of the border find themselves cut off from fiends, relatives, facilities, etc, except via rigorously controlled border crossings, with full requirements for passport and customs checks. It might mean travelling miles, to get to a pub that was previously just over the road, but is now cut off behind a security border fence. Leaving aside the very serious social, economic and community consequences of what is to happen, there is a legal enforcement of this, as the European Union will insist, as part of Irelands continued membership of the EU, that the standard EU border controls and barriers are installed that are required along the border between EU and non EU states. Take a look at the Greek Turkish border on that one. The consequences, several years into a “Third Partition”, are going to be dire. I do not think that either community in the North has any appetite for a new war, but for certainty, the new reality will raise tensions, seriously impoverish the North, etc. There will inevitably be an escalation of violence, from fringe Loyalist and Republican groups.
    However, I have a proposal. The thing that really scared the london government and the Unionist bananaa republic regime at Stormont, was the emergence, in the 1960’s, of a massive Civil Rights movement, which was attracting tens of thousands of demonstrators, had a well organised leadership, and had to be violently suppressed by the Stormont regime.
    So my thinking is that there is something that can be done. To paraphrase John Lennon, “What if they gave a border and nobody came”. Realistically, if enough people take the civil rights action route, a paetition border simply becomes impossible, unless it is reinforced by armed border control forces, and a security fence. (see Palestine)
    IF: The renewed civil rights movement, north and south, takes mass action against a hard border, it cannot survive. by physically damaging border installations, ignoring official crossing points and travelling via “Unofficial Roads”, (there used to be hundreds of them) and boycotting the border, they will utterly discredit the border policy. They will make it impossible. They will also make it ridiculous. if the “Unofficial Roads” are blocked, (in the war, it was by “Cratering” with demolition charges) then the local farmers can do what they did previously, and fill in the holes with tractors, etc. also mass illegal border crossings, refusing to conform to the border controls, etc, and this needs to be supporterd from the Sout, as well as in the North. As the British discovered in India, 50,000 people can make the entire Indian administration collapse, whereever the people do not want it to act.
    I am going to use these pages to call for a mass demonstration, on day one of BREXIT, against the new border controls. Break the law, but peacefully and non-violently. The PSNI simply could not cope with a mass arrest of several thousand people. The Garda would be most unwise to interfere. this is a simple policy, that will completely shred a hard border, if applied. NO WALLS. NO BARRIERS OR NO PEACE.
    Comments please

        1. It was the size of the thing, the level of co-ordination and the fact that it crossed borders that particularly stuck me. The odd sporadic local incident/demo here and there is so easily ignored.

    1. I suspect that mass agitation will occur if border posts and cameras go up on the UK side. I cannot imagine local communities tolerating that. They will be attacked, blockaded, picketed and so on. Which will lead to confrontations.

  4. According to the uk election results map for NI, the actual border may be Antrim and Down only, with a sort of “Gaza” strip area between North Down and Belfast.

    Has anyone read The Art of War?
    Or played Chess much?
    “Never attack your enemy where they are strong, always attack their weaknesses.”
    With that in mind, why is the “left”/more open minded/friendly side of society being stoked so much at the minute?
    What’s the long term goal of such a move?
    Isn’t the Irish establishment firmly under the thumb of the british and US, and haven’t they been for many years?

    1. Thinking the very same thing myself, but cannot think of a framing that doesn’t come off as re-partitionist *shudder*.

      May compromises on Irish border, her govt collapses. May doesn’t compromise on Irish border, EU lamentably shrug shoulders, walk away from negotiations regretfully saying “oh well, hard Brexit it is then, we tried…” Which will shortly collapse May’s govt.

      Either way a Corbyn govt before April 2019 and a lot of clamouring to postpone or cancel Brexit. Could still be a hard Brexit, or an EFTA/EEA outcome but the next 18 months of UK politics are going to be interesting in the proverbial Chinese sense.

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