BREXIT broke Britain but… will it break the “United Kingdom”?
In June 2016, I voted for the “UK” to leave the European Union. Actually, I voted in a perverse way for England to be expelled from the European Union.
Many reasons but I am old enough to recall that my father said that the Common Market (Luxembourg, France, Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Germany) should not let Britain join. His reasoning was that Britain could not join any club without wishing to take it over.
Of course Britain, Ireland and Denmark joined in 1973,
I am one of those socialists who believed that the Common Market was a rich mans club. But I have tolerated it (I am sure they are glad) on the basis that Ireland has done rather well out of it. The Common Market and its successors brought former fascist nations (Greece, Spain and Portugal) into mainstream European democracy.
And Ireland as the sole neutral nation was joined by Finland, Sweden and Austria.
I never liked the loss of national sovereignty and the putative United States of Europe. And it has to be said that the EU over-reached itself when it expanded to take in ten mostly Eastern European nations.
“Hubris” as the Greeks might say. “Schedenfeude” as the Germans and Austrians might say and “Karma” as everyone else might say. It was as much bad timing as anything…banks collapsing and austerity but free movement of Poles, Czechs, Slovaks and later Croats, Bulgarians and Romanians all fed into British (specifically English) xenophobia and the mass migration of Afghans, Somalis, Iraqis and others across Europe (largely as a consequence of wars that Britain supported) fed into British (specifically English) racism.
So when David Cameron put a EU “stay or leave” referendum into the Conservative manifesto in 2015, he assumed the answer would be Remain but it was alreday against a background of people losing faith in the European dream.
The bottom line is that people actually love their own nation states whether it is Portugal, Slovenia, Ireland or Britain and the further you travel from Brussels, Strasbourg and Luxembourg, few people really love Europe. At best and in pragmatic terms, Europeans like Europe but do not really love it.
So really with ham-fisted re-negotiation to present to the British public as a victory, Cameron was shocked at the Leave victory in the Referendum of 2016. The only people more shocked were the Leavers who actually won. I am convinced the Brexiteer leaders (Johnson, Gove, Rees-Mogg and the rest) only wanted a sizeable vote of 40% to use for their own ambitions and permenant discontent.
The past three years of Indecision seems to confirm that this is a result that nobody really wanted.
I voted to LEAVE.
If I have any regret it is that leaving EU will adversely affect people economically but I believe in the long run, it will work out ok on this island. And frankly every vote in every election affects somebody in an adverse way. Thatcher’s election victories affected mining communities, steel communities and shipbuilding communities. And Scotland and Wales.
So why did I vote to LEAVE?
Well, I had one vote. But it was counted twice. Once in the Norn Iron total. And once in the “UK” total. Safe in the knowledge that Norn Iron would vote REMAIN, I wanted my vote to count as LEAVE in the UK total. I knew that result would be close and I knew that this would provoke some kinda constitutional crisis.
And the Good Friday Agreement? Well it brought Peace. But it has been on Life Support and being allowed to die, thru Starvation. BREXIT has allowed nationalists/republicans to re-think the position. The Agreement is plainly not the Holy Grail. The Creative Ambiguity that we thought was so clever is just a load of lies. The additional benefit is that allows LetsGetAlongerists to re-think their position.
Of course, BREXIT itself and the Proposals, Deals and Agreements will be very different from the promises. More Creative Ambiguity. More Perfidious Albion.
And Scotland? Well we get a border down the Irish Sea. But the Scots wont get a border running from Gretna Green to Berwick, unless and until they get that Second Referendum. And they will.
As I wrote above, nobody except a few Eurofanatics really love Europe and stand to attention for “Ode to Joy”.It is pragmatic. Few except a few fanatics in the English Home Counties, Tandragee and Carrickfergus really care about another Union…the United Kingdom. It is just about pragmatism. Little Englanders would happily ditch Inverness and Crossmaglen and Glasgow and Coleraine.
I never really thought of myself as Irish and European. I resented that little maroon passport. But as Seamus Heaney might put it “be advised, my passport’s maroon” and good luck to those who choose the new British blue passport. But you choose a different nationality to mine.