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THE IRISH BORDER - WHERE BREXIT REALITY AND FANTASY COLLIDE

THE IRISH BORDER - WHERE BREXIT REALITY AND FANTASY COLLIDE

Remain versus Leave had been a polarizing dichotomy since long before the referendum but it was only thanks to the impending fracture within the Conservative Party this previously philosophical conundrum morphed into a practical question and, since 2016, an actual real world policy.

It's been mostly treated as a matter for debate and division, testing the political system to its limit but - in the mainstream media and in Westminster - it's also been about navigating towards a solution that'd both appease short term demands of those in government while hoping for a long-term resolution able to satisfy the fundamental objectives of those involved; in a form capable of getting through Parliament.

In a way it's testimony to the faith people have and the robustness of the system we've gotten this far. But reality can only be denied so far, when facing it requires a consensus outside the echo chamber or, in this case, where reality and policy are irreconcilable.

The European Union has carried out its side of the negotiations with reasonable utility. Strip away the rhetoric and whatever latest expediency might be occupying front page spin doctors, and there's a simple reality flashpoint that's defining all that comes beyond: the Irish question.

The Irish Question was at the forefront of British politics a century ago and it's back with a vengeance today.

Ironically, given Britain's lamentable behaviour towards Ireland - culminating in the export of Scottish protestants to Ulster in the 19th Century and Home Rule Partition in the 20th - it's this very divide and rule cynicism that's coming to the rescue of the United Kingdom in 2019. Not because of any foresight by the Atlee government responsible for enacting Home Rule (and setting up the Northern Irish border) but because the solution to centuries of sectarian violence and the peaceful removal of that border came about because of Thatcher's single market and Blair's Good Friday Agreement; and this whole peace process between otherwise impossibly opposing interests was facilitated by the treaties of the European Union.

It was the mutual respect for national sovereignty in the context of a transnational union that ended the violence and allowed peace in the island of Ireland. That and nothing else brought the protagonists to the solution.

For all the fire and brimstone partisanship of the loyalists (now the DUP) and the foxhole guerrilla tradition of the RA (now Sinn Fein) the Belfast peace accords signed in 1998 were signed unconditionally by all parties.

There can be no return of a border in Ireland. Nobody wants a return to the decades of terrorism and conflict. It's woven into the Irish Constitution and an irrevocable component of the United Kingdom.

There can be no breakdown of the United Kingdom that looks to sever Ulster from the mainland and sell the Unionists down the river.

The Belfast Agreement must be honoured because it enshrines the only reality of peace in Ireland; not because it chooses one particular solution from many.

Do you as an individual voter care about making a choice that condemns millions of Irish and British citizens to a violent degraded future, by throwing up a border or selling out Northern Ireland's sovereignty?

Do you as an individual voter choose to face this choice without flinching and let these undisputed facts define the subsequent possibilities of your own political position? If not, you're trying to deny reality. This is a path with no destination except  a coming day of reckoning; whatever capital you might enjoy in the short term.

It's irresponsible and playing fast and loose with your fellow human beings, to try to evade this simple truth. 

In 2016, it could be argued, most hadn't considered these points in detail and that few of us realised certain facts were irreconcilable.

There's nothing criminal, after all, in voting against treaties that imposed limits on the freedom of the British government to act any way it wants; nor in voting against continuing to subsidize far away peoples at the expense of those close to home.

But that was then and this is now.

Today there's no excuse for not knowing the consequences of a choice that stands in opposition to the material truth of the real world.

It's no use blaming intransigence in Brussels or Dublin. All they're doing is following the only path available, given the circumstances. They're not so much holding their nerve as dealing with the facts.

The House of Commons isn't to blame for refusing to enable a government whose own "red lines" fly in the face of reality.

The Brexit Tories aren't to blame, in this instance, for voting not to break up the United Kingdom; whatever opinion you might have on their overall strategy.

In the end, the duty of care lies with the government and the voter.

Passions rise in Westminster because Brexit is a failure in this duty of care. Remainers are so motivated against Brexit, even to the unusual extent of refusing to accept the referendum result, because it strikes at something more fundamental than democracy.

It's a question of human tolerance, caring about the future of one's fellow citizens and refusing to choose what's expedient over what's right. For many of the Remain voters, this isn’t even a choice.

WRITTEN CONSTITUTION VERSUS PARLIAMENTARY CONVENTIONS

WRITTEN CONSTITUTION VERSUS PARLIAMENTARY CONVENTIONS

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