Bordering on the ridiculous

Posted By: September 12, 2016

This Editorial in today’s Irish News of Belfast further points out the apparently endless implications of Brexit.
And further reveals that  English leaders themselves do not even know what they have wrought in their right-wing surge of English nationalism— and  in their “to hell with the consequence “-attitude  for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.It is one of the great ironies of the time that the country (England) that never showed any respect for borders (the very meaning  of Empire) is now consumed about its own borders.”
— Fr. Sean Mc Manus
Irish News Editorial. Belfast. Monday, September 12, 2016

As it becomes increasingly clear that the British government’s attempts to find a viable Brexit strategy are floundering, Taoiseach Enda Kenny was fully entitled to stress over the weekend that, in all the circumstances, the option of a united Ireland must remain on the agenda.

Mr Kenny, addressing the British Irish Association at Oxford University, said he accepted there was no evidence to suggest that an early border poll might lead to unification, but drew a comparison to what turned out to be an unexpected but unstoppable sequence of events in Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

It can also be expected that Mr Kenny was fully aware of the deepening confusion over British intentions in the wake of last June’s disastrous EU  referendum.

Firstly, prime minister Theresa May last week had to publicly rebuke her Brexit minister, David Davis, over his assertion that it was unlikely the UK could remain in the EU single market after the forthcoming negotiations.

Then, at the weekend, Downing Street was forced to distance itself from another key Brexit figure, international trade secretary Liam Fox, who was caught on tape claiming that Britain’s financial woes were caused by internal factors rather than any malign EU  influence.

He alleged in colorful terms that the UK had become too ‘fat and lazy’ to achieve progress over exporting, with business people preferring golf to boosting the country’s prosperity.

The gaffes from Mr Davis and Mr Fox, and the previous appointment of Boris Johnston to, of all posts, the Foreign Office strengthened the view that the British government may aspire to leave the EU by triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty but has no real idea how or when it can reach such an outcome.

A potentially even more serious setback emerged when The Guardian newspaper reported on Saturday that, under post-Brexit legislation proposed by the European Commission, British passport holders would have to apply online and pay a nominal fee before they could travel to other parts of the EU.

It will be widely assumed that any such measures could not possibly apply to the only land border between the UK and the EU but the entire debacle illustrates why Irish citizens from all backgrounds, north and south, are so alarmed by the unfolding shambles.

The Welsh first minister, Carwyn Jones, on Friday became the latest senior politician to openly discuss the potential break-up of the UK, while the prospect of a second vote on independence for Scotland is rapidly gaining ground.

Brexit’s grave implications for Ireland are also obvious, and the debate over reaching a democratic consensus on unity can only intensify in the coming months.