The latest round of rubbish regarding Brexit and its relationship with the island of Ireland comes from Arlene Foster, the leader of the DUP. Let’s start with what she’s said:
“The Irish government are actually using the negotiations in Europe to put forward their views on what they believe the island of Ireland should look like in the future. We’ve heard from the foreign minister of the Republic of Ireland just yesterday talking about his aspiration for a united Ireland. He is entitled to have that aspiration but he should not be using European Union negotiations to talk about those issues. What he should be talking about are trading relationships.”
Right, the first line is almost comic in its intent. Why wouldn’t the Irish government put forward its view on what they believe the island of Ireland should look like in the future, given how much Brexit has the potential to change things? I’m not talking about unity here, put that to one side for now; I’m just talking about Foster being outraged that Ireland would be seeking to shore up their own interests as a nation throughout the EU negotiations. Wouldn’t they be acting remiss if the opposite were the case?
Second of all, whatever Simon Coveney has said about wishing to see a united Ireland in his lifetime (admittedly, not a helpful thing for him to be talking about right this second as this clouds the Brexit issue), there are many in the Republic of Ireland who are extremely weary about a united Ireland, as it happens. The Irish have a good thing going here; do they really want to have to police a small but determined band of unionists who have suddenly been forced to join their country against their will? Most of the politicians or former politicians in Ireland I’ve ever spoken to answer that question with a firm “no”. A united Ireland is sometimes spoken of in the south in flowery terms; the practical reality is somewhat different, however.
Finally, what the Irish are upset about is the trading relationship. The border issue is many things, but it is also a trading issue, and if the north and the south are in different customs unions, this is a major trading problem for the Irish. So, what would Arlene Foster have the Irish government do? Not care at all about the Irish border? Hypocritical, when she herself is existentially worked up on the same issue, albeit with different priorities.
Yes, what Varadkar has done is somewhat risky in some senses – but it is also utterly logical.
There is so much rubbish being written about Ireland and Brexit at present, I almost feel broken by it. At some point, the government will have to make a decision on the Customs Union issue, and that is all because of the Irish situation. It was always thus. Sorry that the UK has a border issue of this magnitude to cope with, Brexiteers; I know you all wish it would just go away. However, it’s not going anywhere.