Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. That New Testament warning springs to mind reading this contribution in The Irish Times from two pro-Brexit academics in the United Kingdom, Peter Ramsay, who teaches law at the London School of Economics, and Chris Bickerton, who lectures in politics at Cambridge University. Their opinion piece, calling for greater cooperation from Ireland on the UK’s difficult withdrawal negotiations with the European Union, begins with a line designed to win over Irish hearts and minds:
We have always believed it would be better if Ireland were united under one sovereign Irish government.
The article then spells out in a seemingly reasonable fashion why Dublin and Brussels should drop their “backstop agreement” with London, which ensures a border-less system of regulatory alignment on the island, in favour of minimal customs arrangements around the British-administered Six Counties. A proposal the authors speak of in highly positive terms, arguing that it will have little impact on north-south communications and development, and will maintain existing diplomatic and economic relations between both nations.
All of which seems quite reassuring until you read a similar piece from the duo published somewhat earlier on the campaigning europhobic website, The Full Brexit, where they write in rather less assuring – and rather more bellicose – terms:
…some cameras and some capacity to make spot checks will probably have to be added at the border, however inventive the technical solutions available.
The UK government should therefore take the backstop off the table.
To remove the backstop, however, means doing precisely what the UK government has refused to do ever since the negotiations with the EU over Brexit began: to assert its sovereignty in Northern Ireland.
The chief anxiety is that Northern nationalists will react to any re-imposition of a physical border with violence. This particular example of shroud-waving is perhaps the most egregious example of the Remain elite’s “Project Fear”.
What is most striking about the discussion of a return to violence in Northern Ireland is not the potency of the actual threat but the willingness of politicians to invoke that threat as a reason for avoiding any change. The potential threat of violence by tiny organisations, which represent a very small part of the Nationalist population in Northern Ireland, is being exploited to frustrate a decision made by the majority of the UK population as a whole. Behind the intransigence of Michel Barnier and Leo Varadkar we find potential threats from diehard republican grouplets, effectively recruited as the armed wing of the European Union. In London, we find a British political class that has been willing to send its armies on bloody adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan, but is unwilling to face down even the slightest hint of violence closer to home to ensure that a democratic decision over the constitutional future of the UK can be implemented.
In other words, if the Irish object with unexpected vigour to the imposition of a “hard border” around the north-eastern British legacy colony on the island of Ireland, the government in Britain can always fall back on its old policy – and send in the army.
And this, a chairde, is the argument of the intellectual Brexiteers and Leavers in the UK?
And they ask, mouth open and aghast, “why are The Irish so difficult?
Well, firstly, I think it is time that we started asking questions, about why the Irish Times is giving space yet again to a couple of foreign academics to sound off about the Irish being inconvenient. They are very uneasy about letting Irish Academics, who actually live and work in the country, set out their ideas, unless they are conservative and anti-nationalist. what would be more useful is if they actually used the print space to discuss the looming crisis in Ireland, which is beginning to take on a familiar historical shape, as swirling out of the mists of time, comes the ghostly shape of Ireland pre 1914. lets be clear here. In he last few day, we have had the Irish Prime minister issuing a legal warning tot he London government, of the banning of all UK aircraft from Irish airspace, on April 1st 2019, as the Uk is disconnected from the continent-wide EUROCONTROL traffic system, and further announcements that the All Irish electric grid is going to be disconnected from the North on the same date. (leaving the north with a collapsed grid and semi blackout conditions. ). Add to that all the other border issues, and frankly, who cares about the fact that a few London politicians and academics are discomforted. Given the seeming inevitability now of a hard BREXand the relentlessly ticking clock, the discussion should be about the forthcoming crisis. The Uk government has now had to admit that it is in the middle of making emergency plans to stockpile food, medicine, fuel, etc, for the disruption that BREXIT will cause. Does anybody think this will leave the North of Ireland untouched?….The Irish government also needs to have its feet put to the fire. The dangers of civil disturbances in the North, with BREXIT driving it, are a serious possibility. The Dublin Government seems to have no plans to deal with any of this. Unbelievable. It really is. discuss.
These two are among the most pathetic academics to wade into the border debate, their blog reactively attacking all the criticism they received for this article and others they published on the issue with childish retorts. And hilariously they’re supposed to be leftists. I listened to the new Dead Pundits Society podcast today which courts one of their fullbrexit colleagues and listening to the same ignorant drivel go unchallenged and even celebrated made me truely wonder for the state of the “authentic” British left