Judging by the opinions expressed over the weekend by the main contenders for the leadership of the Conservative Party in London, it seems that casting Ireland as some sort of errant adjunct of the United Kingdom is now regarded as a useful way of attracting support among Tory MPs in Westminster. The latest contributor to this sly rhetoric is Sajid Javid, the Secretary of State for the Home Department (effectively the justice minister in the UK), who told the BBC that the deletion of the peace-protecting Backstop Protocol from the Withdrawal Agreement with the European Union was key to moving Brexit forward with British legislators:
“What I would do is focus on the one Brexit deal that has already got through Parliament, and that was the Withdrawal Agreement with the change to the backstop.
It’s the only thing that’s got through Parliament… I would try and renegotiate the backstop. And what I would do in doing that, is focus on Ireland.
“I think Ireland is the absolute key to all of this. You could sort of say it’s the tail that wags the dog on this…”
This of course deliberately echoes similarly charged language used by Boris Johnson, another would-be leader of the Tories, almost twelve months ago, when he complained about the Irish “tail” wagging the British “dog”. Incredibly, Sajid Javid has also claimed that under his premiership Britain would cover all of the financial costs of Ireland implementing a British “digitised” border on its island.
“In my department at the moment I’ve got border force and we’ve done work for months on what an alternative to that arrangement could look like and what’s missing is that goodwill.
What I would do is make a grand gesture to Ireland that we would cover all their costs – the upfront costs, the running costs – of a new digitised border.
I think it could be done in a couple of years but I think we could cover their costs.”
In related news Matt Hancock, the British Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, has suggested that Dublin accept the establishment of an “Irish Border Council” with London to manage the UK’s post-withdrawal frontier as part of his leadership bid with his Conservative Party colleagues.
So there you go. The British solution for its Irish problems. Annexation by digitisation.