Current Affairs Politics

Luxembourg And Ireland And The Hysteria Of Brexit

The reaction of the right-wing British press to yesterday’s alleged humiliation of the prime minister Boris Johnson by Xavier Bettel, his Luxembourgish counterpart, is summed up in this outraged headline from the xenophobic Express newspaper paraphrasing Iain Duncan Smith, the former leader of the Conservative Party and europhobic diehard.

“We saved you in the war!’ Iain Duncan Smith fury at Luxembourg insult to Britain

Is there any contemporary political or cultural event that the Brexit movement in Britain can’t trace or reference back to the Second World War or some other period of British military glory? Indeed, is there any event between 1945 and 2016, aside from the political and socio-ecnomic upheavals instigated by the ten year government of Margaret Thatcher, that even features in the thoughts of the Brexiteer faithful?

Things have now reached a stage in UK politics that it’s almost impossible to tell satire from genuine belief. For evidence of this new surrealism take this snippet from the increasingly intemperate columnist Rod Liddle writing in the resuscitated organ of the London establishment, The Times:

I notice an opinion poll has suggested that the people of Northern Ireland would now be in favour of a united Ireland, by a small margin, given their exquisite boredom and irritation at Brexit. I’m all for that if it means a united Ireland under British control. I think the Irish would be delighted to reacquaint themselves with the immeasurable benefits of rule from Westminster.

Irony? Humour? A serious argument? Who can tell when dealing with the opinions of a country where the fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists seem to have taken over.

36 comments on “Luxembourg And Ireland And The Hysteria Of Brexit

  1. terence patrick hewett

    The “fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists” have realised something which you have not realised: that one day Ireland will have to choose between independence and servitude – like the UK has had to choose.


    • We did that in 1916. And we were fighting real servitude, not the fictional, wholly delusional kind.


      • terence patrick hewett

        The brutal reality is that the pre-EU status of the Rep. of Ireland was that of a satellite of the UK but its current status is that of a satellite of the EU and US. The Irish state has required British trading links to survive: in particular the ability to export the Irish population through emigration to the UK and the wider Anglosphere.

        The Irish business model is based around the UK/US/Anglospherical model – a low tax and export-based economy with flexible labour markets. When this connection is endangered – expect a realignment in Irish politics effected by those people in Ireland with a stake in maintaining the UK/US/Anglospherical connection politically and economically.

        You need to up your game.

        Confidence in Ireland’s future can only be achieved if it stands on its own two feet and ceases to hold on to the hand of a nurse of any description.

        An independent United Ireland is a sleeping giant: what can be achieved with the technology of the 4th Industrial Revolution is ill-understood by politicians on both sides of the Irish Sea. But with the inclusion of the North it needs to be realised that there will be a price to be paid in identity and self by both the South and North of Ireland – unless a Zimbabwe style Civil War burnout and land loot is contemplated for the Six Counties.

        And just as there will be a price to be paid for an independent United Ireland, there is a price to be paid for the Faustian pact which Ireland has made with the EU: and that particular price will be total political, fiscal and financial tax control of Ireland by the EU – turning Ireland into a rootless, money-making plantation. Ireland will be asked to sell its heritage for short lived material gain – a handful of Euros – cheap at the price. Just ask Greece – just ask the Troika: it will be done very nicely with more fig leaves than a gallon of califig syrup but Ireland was squashed like a bug in 2008 and 2010 by the EU – it does not like opposition.

        To repeat – one day Ireland will have to choose between independence and servitude – like the UK has had to choose.

        After Brexit – and it is now inevitable – a political realignment is likely in Ireland of which no one can see the end. In reality that alignment has already started.

        The English never fell for the EU happy clappy, let’s all dance around the maypole, kumbaya shtick: and nor are the French or the German or the cynical Italian fooled by it either: that sort of nonsense is for the “little people.” For the English it was an entirely commercial arrangement: profit and loss and zero else. And to be brutally honest – nor has Ireland, Wales and Scotland fallen for it – where much of EU support is defined by antipathy to England – and antipathy towards England by some of the English – it’s all part of the great game.

        The EU does not understand the nature of the dialogue between the 4 nations of the 2 islands – a sometimes extremely violent game that has been going on for millennia – and for many it is the only game in town – and it is a game to which the EU and the US are not invited – except by proxy to be used as pawns to be played or discarded at will

        The Irish political class has an iron grip on the MSM but they will find it impossible to keep the lid on it after Brexit.


        • Ireland is not a satellite state of anyone. It is a MEMBER of the EU. It has a number of ties to The US.

          It is beyond cynical to see anything in the EU other than business arrangements as “Happy clappy” or whatever, seeing how it despite certain flaws HAS kept the peace in Europe for decades. It does provide tools for complex issues such as global warming…I would prefer an approach that puts more emphasis on innovation versus high regulation documents.

          True the EU needs a major rethink…….I don’t see how any observant person could deny that.

          The fact is that when European countries go to war the world has a tendency to get dragged in. The world will judge Britain if the EU is severely harmed, and they will not overlook it if anything bad happens to Ireland. That game is up.


          • terence patrick hewett

            NATO has kept the peace in Europe: no one wants a nuclear missile up the derriere. The UK does not want to harm the EU since it is not in its interest to do so: but the EU is doing a good job self-harming itself.

            Believe all the EU spiel if it makes you happy but this is about very unsentimental power and who shall wield it.

            And in cynical geopolitical terms Ireland exists as an English speaking cultural appendage of Anglo-America surviving off Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) with a monetary policy set in Brussels.

            And yes: unpleasant as the reality is, Ireland is an EU/US satellite.

            Once the UK is out of the EU, realpolitik will ensure that the caravanserai moves on.


        • piss poor priest-ridden Ireland before the EU a wealthy forward-looking country in the EU


      • Sometimes I think the English are in the large majority of a sort of servitude-but the EU isn’t the source.
        Could it be that The English are essentially oppressed by an extremely antiquated political system, and the near stranglehold of the “public school” crowd on political power? That’s not colonialism of course. However, it could be that their political system is “buckling”, and that it has been “running on empty” for quite some time.
        The English have never truly gotten a chance to kiss any “Old Regime” goodbye (They got the NHS and economic reforms from around that time, but it mostly didn’t touch the political system). Cromwell was a military dictator even in England, and the so-called “Glorious Revolution” was more like a Royal Coup.
        In some respects this does point to a charm history. And as you ASF and World By Storm both seem to tell, they have oddly selective memories over things like Peterloo, English Civil War, and a great deal more. However there might be more to how they ended up with such dysfunctional politics than “just spoiled”.
        This Dutchman has a very cynical, “mean puppy” take on why England’s history may in some sense have become a curse.
        I would add Non-Violent Revolutions, Revolutions with lower body counts than France or Russia for example, various types of Reconstruction governments from “Let’s Rebuild” to Communists in tone, and a number of other reasons nations may do an overhaul as other things England has never really had. It could be falling apart from too many centuries of relative stasis.
        I know your big thing in PR (to me that is several systems under one label), but if I were English I think my top two wishes would be an English Parliament, and total abolition of those “public schools”. (I wouldn’t support getting rid of ALL fee paying schools Britain or most countries. There are some subsets in the US I would axe but for largely different reasons from the British public school situation).


        • terence patrick hewett

          Hi Grace: After Brexit I will be posting two essays – one explaining how the English think to the Irish and the other explaining Ireland to the English.

          If it is true that the English do not understand Ireland and the Irish then the opposite is true: the Irish do not understand England and the English. If the English do not understand the long fight for Irish national freedom, the centuries of political and cultural conquest and the terrible impact of the Famine on Ireland’s consciousness, then the Irish do not appreciate what the Norman invasion of England in 1066 did to England and the English consciousness.

          Of course those in the US also have difficulty with understanding both Ireland and England and see through the prism of 1775-1776 and the gross sentimentality of Ireland’s diaspora.

          So until Brexit – have a nice day.


          • 850 years of forced subjugation the Irish know the Brits only to fecking well, chum


          • Once again you are seriously mistaken about certain things. First of all, if England’s problem has to do with even going back to the Norman Invasions. Then abolishing The Monarchy would be the first step, not leaving the EU. Although largely of German heritage now, The Monarchy largely is a product of the Norman invasions.

            Also if the problem is from Norman invasions other solutions could include a new legal code, and a bunch of other internal things. Reforming Parliament along more Scandinavian lines is another avenue to be explored. Of course, maybe I’m biased, as I sort of think that’s what you should do anyway!!!!

            You misjudge too the character of sympathy for Ireland in the US. For one thing there is a long history of Irish sympathizers who were not of Irish origins themselves. Abraham Lincoln would have to be the most admired individual on the list. He came from English American Puritans although claims his mother’s people fought for Cromwell are pretty unproven at best. Then you have slave-born Frederick Douglas. Abolitionist and suffragist Susan B. Anthony. Suffragist Carrie Chapman Catt. You also have many Jewish American radicals who sympathized with Ireland’s plight.

            Not sure what you mean by prism of 1775-1776? If you mean that wanting out of the British Empire, was a worthy goal, maybe. Or maybe if you mean that having a Monarchy wasn’t fabulous.

            Either way, it’s hard to deny that Ireland is objectively better off as a Republic than as part of the UK, I don’t see anything particular “sentimental” about not wanting Ireland to remain a country that seemed destined to do nothing suffer. Prior to Independence with the Republic, and the GFA with the North that often seemed to be the reality.


            • terence patrick hewett

              You will have to wait for the essay Grace: I am a professional engineer and a Catholic who has worked and lived in 16 countries and 4 continents. As a genus, engineers are analytical by persuasion and do not suffer from groupthink: we are ruthless in getting rid of things that don’t work.


              • “As a genus, engineers are analytical by persuasion and do not suffer from groupthink: we are ruthless in getting rid of things that don’t work.”

                And modest too, self-evidently.


              • Having worked with my share of engineers I’d have to disagree. I’ve seen plenty of groupthink among engineers.


              • “After Brexit I will be posting two essays – one explaining how the English think to the Irish and the other explaining Ireland to the English.”

                Terence, if this is along the lines of your arguments built on your expertise in engineering and the shining future of British technology after Brexit on this site a short while back best of luck with that project.


          • I’d say the NATO argument only applied to The Cold War-which is over.

            As for this “Satellite” thing, what the hell is the basis for that? The Irish Republic has never once been anything but an Independent Nation in the eyes of The US State Department. Ireland does not have the same legal status as Puerto Rico or Guam and never has.

            If you want to argue The English as a majority language undermines a country’s independence, you’d have to claim that the Caliphate still exists because most of its former countries still speak Arabic. Or that Spain and Portugal still control much of North and South America where Spanish or Portuguese is the majority language. Last time I checked majority language was never a criteria for recognizing an independent nation.


      • Is it possible that this is actually a case where they are simply mistaken about who their real oppressor actually is. Which is to say not the EU-although it has problems.
        Could it be that England is simply a victim of an extremely archaic political system that has been “running on empty” for quite some time? And the EU is simply an easier target?
        In one sense, this map DOES point to a charmed history. The other side of the coin is that they have never really gotten a chance to say “Goodbye” to an old order or regime. There are some people who think England’s super-stable history may have actually become a curse. Here is one Dutchman who says it all better than I can:
        This article is pretty cynical and “mean puppy” about why England needs to change-and it’s probably been long overdue since Queen Victoria was a baby. I’d add Non-Violent Revolution, revolutions that maybe weren’t as blood as France’s or Russia’s, Reconstruction government with flavors ranging from “rebuild” to “Communists” to “common sense land reform” or whatever, and more to the list of other reasons nations get a fresh start, that England has never really had…for centuries. One theory says Cromwell immunized them against Republicanism for centuries because they simply weren’t ready and got a military dictator.
        It could be that England’s insanely overdue need for change is at a sort of breaking point like the Soviet Union was in its last days.
        As for how England could change? I know your top answer would likely be PR (to me that a variety of systems with varied merits under one label. However, if I were English my top two wishes would probably be an English Parliament, and total abolition of what they call “public schools”. (I don’t advocate total elimination of ALL fee paying schools, only individual schools or subsets of schools with problematic records, where legal justification can be found for revoking their charter. I’d say if you neglect a mission to provide education to poor but promising students for over 300 years, the legal case could be found.)


  2. I don’t know what exactly gets taught in British schools about WW2-Would that vary from “public”, private, versus “state” schools?

    I was taught that the “term” allies, wasn’t just a stupid politically correct misnomer or fiction. That really it was a bloc led by The Third Reich, Fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan vs one lead by The US, UK, and USSR.

    Some right wing assholes in The US and Russia try similar games and Britain (not to mention liberals in their own country) doesn’t like it at all.


  3. I’m not sure telling the UK public that you needed to pretend to be open to a No Deal exit, so you could use it as a negotiating ploy with the EU, was the smartest move given the EU also receive UK media. Johnson’s entire approach to negotiations has been to antagonize the EU. Anonymous EU diplomat are now briefing that the EU has run out of patience with the UK. That the best thing all round would be for the UK to exit, resolve its internal problems and then apply for re-admission. One gets the impression the odds of the EU refusing an extension are increasing rapidly. Even if they got a GE and/or referendum on the calendar.

    How long before a UI is THE defining issue of a GE in Ireland?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I tend to agree. Purely from a democratic point of view, the British voted to exit the EU in a referendum. So I’m not adverse to the idea that the manner of the exit and it’s future relationship with the EU should also be voted on in another referendum. Perhaps a multiple choice one. But cancelling referendum outcomes because you don’t like the outcome is a perilous game to play in the long run.

      The UK-EU well has been poisoned and will remain like that for years to come. Better the UK exits for a period of self-imposed exile or purgatory but hopefully with good relations with it’s neighbours.

      But the backstop must remain at the core of that relationship.

      Though, and here I don my republican strategy cap, the esteemed FitzJames Horse blogger was right when he said that a vote for Brexit was a vote to fatally wound UK rule in Ireland. Everything that has stemmed from 2016 is moving in that direction.


      • Agree with you entirely. FJH would have been right, even with May’s WA Brexit. From the vote tallies in Republican areas, it looks like he wasn’t alone. At the end of the day this was always England’s choice and they have no one else to blame but themselves and the Tories. Brexit belongs to the English Tories, lock, stock and barrel.

        One moment of farcical comedic relief could be the FBPE crew manage to undo prorogation, parliament forces Johnson to request an extension and the EU says no. Could you imagine the look on their faces? They’d probably turn around and promptly pass May’s WA, with an NI backstop instead of UK wide. Which would f reunification, so not funny at all actually.

        Liked by 1 person

      • The big problem is that their constitution has no clear rules on things like referendum or “repeat referendum”.

        If they were to try a “multiple choice” referendum, that might be a better option than just a “Keep re-doing it until you get the result you want”.

        As for putting themselves in “self-imposed purgatory”. Are you still confident even after Operation Yellowhammer that England won’t have any severe consequences such as massive food shortages, NHS implosion or even Civil War?

        Liked by 1 person

        • “Purely from a democratic point of view, the British voted to exit the EU in a referendum. So I’m not adverse to the idea that the manner of the exit and it’s future relationship with the EU should also be voted on in another referendum. Perhaps a multiple choice one. But cancelling referendum outcomes because you don’t like the outcome is a perilous game to play in the long run.”

          +1 ASF

          Liked by 1 person

        • Yep, I don’t think it will get that bad, sans a reunited Ireland or a renewed independence campaign in Scotland.

          Though I have been guilty of OTT rhetoric myself, I still believe we are looking at several weeks-months of confusion in the event of a no-deal Brexit followed by a sustained period of economic recession over the longer term rather than a more dramatic cliff edge crash and burn of the UK economy.

          That may well spark political unrest, maybe violent protests as the recession drags on, but “civil war” or anything like it remains highly unlikely.

          I’m guessing more like Thatcherite Britain on steroids than Yugoslavia.


  4. Yep, an all round nice guy that Mr Liddle: “On 5 May 2005, he was arrested for common assault against Monckton, who was 20 weeks pregnant at the time. He admitted the offence and accepted a police caution…”.


    • Some of his post-2016 writing has been completely off the wall stuff. I get his basic points about democracy and referendums and all that. But he has wholly bought into the Brexiteer slave state line, the evil EU,and the generally toxic politics of a resurgent English or Greater Britain nationalism. Indeed, he is now one of its chief policemists.


  5. Fruit cake, loonie or closet racist ?. Which is Rod, or is he all three.?. Fcuking bastard more like.


  6. Hi,

    The quote by Liddle actually appeared in the London Times



  7. In today’s world, there is no such thing as “independence” in the romanticised sense of the concept that people tend to cling to (perhaps there never really has been). It’s all about interdependence. So talk of Ireland being a satellite of the EU or the UK or the US is talk for talk’s sake, intended to be provocative. Not a single nation on earth can claim to be totally independent, not even North Korea which relies on China for its survival. We are talking about levels of autonomy within a world of interdependent nations. So the issue for any nation is this: What partnerships/alliances are best for us? In my view, the EU is far and away the best bet for Ireland.


    • I’d say even with The EU the ROI can absolutely be described as an Independent country in the sense that it definitely was not
      Part of The UK. The ability to elect an independent government, is a great achievement for a nation that had no such thing for 700-800 years.

      To trivialize that because Ireland has taken the world by storm with Microbial Fuel Cells or whatever-although it would be nice if it happened- is just silly.

      Similarly when people say Ireland “might as well rejoin the U.K.” if Irish language revival hasn’t been what some have hoped is wildly more self-harming than Brexit. Of course it would be terrible to see a language die (unless it’s death by evolution into at least one new language) and measures to prevent that outcome are worthy. Yet, if you want separate languages to be a prerequisite for national independence? Spanish or Portuguese is common in the independent Presidential Republics of North and South America, does that mean their independence from Spain or Portugal is bogus? No!!!!!!

      The EU does need reform and probably should give more power to Democratic govt. the Lazarus currency idea is one that deserves a long look. Member nations are not satellites and have never been made to join against their will.


  8. samebutdifferent

    Lovely to read such insightful comments as always. The engineer guy sounds like the typical self-righteous brigade who appear to have it “all figured out”.

    I have only three points.

    One. The EU allows Irish people to earn euros and grants the visa free ability to live and work in 26 other countries. I really can’t find an argument to leave this arrangement.

    Two. At the moment any death in Northern Ireland or Éire can not be directly attributed to British or Irish policy decisions. If the borders go up then this will change. Even if one person dies as a result of this it will have been a total failure.

    Three. Ordo Ab Chao. I really do believe that we may see greater unity between both our islands in the future. This chaotic display may be the prelude to a deeper conversation on the nature of union and neighbours. Often I feel the issue is that we don’t all have a common history lesson. I’m thinking of Chinese history more in my quest to find an answer. If we follow the conclusion of the “three kingdoms” period then that which is united, Britain, will divide and that which is divided, namely Ireland and parts of Europe, will unite.

    Tell Hari Seldon earlier in the thread that engineers have existed through all manner of ludicrous and anamolous empires. I do commend his anti-modesty.


  9. I read today that Prime Minister Johnson sees no need for a border poll.

    So now you know folks it’s what prime minister Johnson says that goes, not what the people of Ireland and the GFA days.

    Johnson I think is telling you to GIRFUY.

    Things never change!


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