Friday, 28 July 2017

The problems are all somebody else's

Amongst the many problems which the Brexiteers never really thought through is the question of the arrangements for the border between the UK and the Irish republic.  If the UK were willing to consider remaining in the single market and customs union, then the problem would be greatly diminished, but given the outright refusal of both the government and most of the main opposition party even to consider such an option, the issue could end up becoming one of the major obstacles to progress.
Initially, some in the UK Government seemed to be suggesting that the Irish Republic could carry out UK border checks in its ports and airports, seemingly insensitive to the way in which treating the Republic as being somehow ‘part of the UK’ for customs purposes would be received by an independent state.  Subsequently the UK Government has suggested some sort of ‘hi-tech’ land border across Ireland, a suggestion which has not gone down well in Dublin, which sees any reintroduction of a land border as being in danger of re-opening past divisions and damaging both parts of the island.  Their response has been to propose that the Irish Sea should become the border.
Unsurprisingly, the idea of imposing customs and passport checks between one part of the UK and another (effectively treating the north as part of the Republic for customs purposes) has not gone down terribly well with the DUP in the north of Ireland.  One of their responses has been to suggest that there are only two options – there will either be a hard land border, or the Republic will have to follow the UK out of the EU.  As an exercise in cold logic, it’s hard to fault that, although as an understanding of political reality it fails miserably, and would lead inexorably to the imposition of a hard border. 
But it also underscores the underlying attitude of many Brexiteers from the outset on two points in particular.  The first is that Brexit only ever made any sense at all as a precursor to breaking up the EU, and the second is that the problems caused by Brexit are somebody else’s – in this case, the Republic of Ireland.  It’s another example of the UK’s sense of entitlement and exceptionalism that the problems should all be resolved by others bending down before the might of Britannia.  


Anonymous said...

Then, there is Gibraltar!

G Horton-Jones said...

Then there is Wales!