According to apparently well-sourced press reports, officials from the United Kingdom are currently touring the capitals of Europe, briefing pretty heavily against Ireland’s position on the Brexit negotiations between the UK and the European Union. This is not the first time that such a diplomatic effort has been launched since Britain’s unexpected referendum vote in 2016 to leave the EU. But it certainly seems to be the most sustained effort by London to undermine Dublin’s arguments against the imposition of a so-called hard border around the British legacy colony on the island of Ireland. As on previous occasions, the UK has gained a less than sympathetic response from the Continental governments, despite its hopes of finding natural allies among the Eurosceptic administrations in Italy, Austria, Poland and Hungary. Whatever their views on the Union’s collective immigration policies or the over-centralisation of powers in Brussels, and so on, the bloc’s member states know the value of the unified customs union and single market and have no intention of compromising or imperilling it to meet the isolationist demands of the British. Or of xenophobic elements in the ruling Conservative Party and its hard-right allies in the Democratic Unionist Party.
On the latest Brexit shenanigans, Tony Connelly reports for RTÉ that:
The view from Brussels and Dublin is that Westminster is quite simply a parallel universe.
If anything the past ten days have made things a lot worse. One senior EU official has privately confided that we could be heading for a “cataclysmic” outcome.
In a nutshell, Dublin is angry that two years after the referendum, 15 months after Article 50 was triggered, six months since December’s Joint Report, three months since Theresa May promised the European Council President Donald Tusk that she was committed to a legally operable backstop, and with only three-and-a-half months before the October deadline, London has tossed a half-baked solution on the table.
The lameduck Tory prime minister in London, Theresa May, will surely go down in history as one of the country’s most ineffective leaders. Unwilling to face down the Brexiteer “nutters” in her own party – including several senior cabinet ministers – and reliant on a parliamentary deal with the politically toxic DUP to stay in office, she alternates from stumbling from one crisis to another to standing frozen with indecision. It would be laughable if it wasn’t so tragic. But as we all know, with a fair and equitable agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union looking as far away as ever, its Ireland which will bear the brunt of the UK’s Brexit debacle. And the reason for that, above all else, is Britain’s continued occupation of the north-eastern corner of our island nation. Once again, on the questions of peace, prosperity or a hard border in Ireland the ultimate answer is what it always has been: Brits out.
I would be more worried by the likes of the extreme right wing governments in Hungary and Poland. The EU who gave countless concessions to the UK over the years, exemptions on the work time directive and opt put of Schengen etc. are quite rightly play hardball. European Union ministers have flatly rejected a demand by Britain for a continued say over EU policy during a Brexit transition period, a proposal put forward incompetent David Davis. The UK are about to experience the reality of giving up a great trade deal with the EU and other world markets for a far lesser deal. The British DNA for arrogance will be well tested in the next few years.
Italy as well, given the tangle of confusion in Rome. Who exactly is charge of the coalition? And what of the Italian Deep State? In the case of Italy, it is one of the very few examples of a Western democracy where the quasi-conspiratorial term is entirely justifiable.
Well, what’s likely to happen if “Brits out.” is put into effect without planning and preparation? It could horribly easily happen, given the Little England mentality of many of the supporters of Brexit, and the desire which many show for Brexit without any deal or negotiation. How could the Irish government respond to a policy of “It’s all yours, pal. Just don’t expect us to do anything.”?
Planning sure, and reunification by gradual adsorption is preferable, but a plebiscite will always be the final trigger for the de jure reintegration of the Six Counties.
There will always be a recalcitrant or truculent separatist tradition among the pro-union community. Even with a democratic vote for unity.