One of the more caustic social media responses to the United Kingdom’s chaotic Brexit negotiations with the European Union has been the satirical suggestion that London’s next proposed solution to its customs disagreements with Dublin and Brussels would require the microchipping of Irish people to monitor their movement in and out of the UK’s contested enclave in the north-eastern corner of Ireland. It seems that we are not too far away from that dystopian sci-fi future with news that the British authorities are considering the use of a smartphone cross-border tracking app for people living in the Six Counties, or the neighbouring counties, following Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.
The idea that Irish citizens would install British government surveillance technology on their phones to facilitate inspection-free travel into the northern part of their own country is just off the scale in terms of madness. The suggestion is untenable at a voluntary level, and impossible to impose at a compulsory level. At least not without widespread civil resistance or unrest of one sort or another.
To compound the impression of the Brexit lunacy gripping the government in London, we have the UK premier, Therasa May, stating her belief that any future referendum in the troubled region on reunification with the rest of the country could well yield a positive result. However, such an assumption under the multiparty and international accords of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) obliges Britain to actually hold such a plebiscite. So how can the United Kingdom deny a border vote to the inhabitants of the Six Counties on one hand by claiming that the demand does not exist for it, while on the other the prime minister herself admits that the outcome of such a poll is uncertain? Surely then the political and legal requirements are in place to hold a unity referendum under the GFA?