Brexit – What Next? – a view from Ireland

The vote in the UK, by a small majority, to leave the European Union appears to have taken even the leave camp by surprise.

It is a source of amazement that people can have led such a crusade without thinking of how a decision in their favour might be implemented.

The campaign in Britain to leave the UK has unleashed restless forces of primitive nationalism. Furthermore, it has given comfort to a dangerous segment of the UK population, xenophobic in outlook, and caught up in some time warp even in this 21st century.

And what about that poster on the Leave side? An illustration unworthy of anyone who purported to argue a rational case, showing a throng of unfortunate refugees and implying that aid to suffering humanity would break the nation.  Shame on anyone who had any part in the production of that piece of misleading and fear-inducing propaganda.

Is there any good news in all this?

Well the UK has never been a comfortable and enthusiastic member of the European Union.  If now, rational consideration of the economic and social fallout resulting from going it alone, has brought home the wisdom of European co-operation, then this fiasco might indeed produce some good.  Certainly, a vote by a small majority to remain would have left UKIP and the Leave side snapping at the heels of any future UK government and holding them hostage for years to come.

So now what?

A new election and a new pro-EU government might be the excuse to ignore the result of the recent referendum or call another.  (No more giggling at how we in Ireland have a practice of doing just that in order to get the right result)

If the UK trigger Article 50 and proceed to leave the EU it is as clear as day that Scotland will seek full independence in order to re-apply for membership of the union. Bye bye UK and thank you UKIP who will have had the distinction of being remembered as the United Kingdom Independence Party who actually broke up the United Kingdom.

And what about our friends in Northern Ireland?  Are they to be separated from the rest of us on this island by a hard border?  It had best be a hard one and a high one, 300 miles long if the UK is to protect itself from the free-to -travel remaining hundreds of millions of EU citizens. Think of the Berlin Wall or the Trump plan to protect the US from his feared swarming hordes of Mexico.   That is just not a runner.  Imagine the nationist response if this island was to be divided by a wall? The more practical alternative would be to set the UK independent boundary at the mainland of the UK.  But can you imagine Northern Unionists being happy having to show their passports in order to enter the UK mainland?  Neither would they be likely to respond favourably to the misguided and premature idea put out by Sinn Fein calling for a border poll.  We in the south are seeking a warm relationship, and perhaps, in the long run, an eventual mutually agreed happy civil partnership between the peoples of this island, but not a gunshot wedding of the sort believed achievable by Sinn Fein.

Oh, and remember UK, the rule is “no free trade without free movement”, you take it or leave it.

These are indeed interesting times ahead.  There are economic opportunities for us in the midst of this uncertainty as we find ourselves as the only committed members of the EU having English as the everyday spoken language.  Let us make it clear to one and all that, whatever the outcome in the UK, Ireland Inc. is open for business and ready to provide whatever services the people of Europe, or the world, might require.  This continent has been divided for too long. Too many people have died in its wars over centuries, bloodily so on a frightful scale in the lifetime of people still living. We in Ireland who believe in the idea of greater co-operation between the peoples of Europe are not taking part in any effort to break our unity asunder.

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