We can no longer deny the fact that British attitudes to the island of Ireland will affect negotiationsby Stephanie Boland / November 27, 2017 / Leave a comment
How does one solve a problem like Northern Ireland? It’s a complex question—but one which the UK will soon have to summon up an answer to. So far, suggestions include an electronic border, a goods check at ports in to both the Republic of Ireland and the North, and—from republicans—the incorporation of the latter in to the former.
On the Today program, Brexiteer Kate Hoey insisted that no physical border would be necessary on the island, adding that, were such a thing to exist, Dublin would “have to pay for it.”
While Hoey didn’t quite go full “we’ll build a wall and make Leo Varadkar pay for it,” her follow-up remark asking why the Irish government doesn’t “actually become more positive about this and start looking at solutions with their closest neighbour” will have raised eyebrows in Dublin. (To say nothing of her suggestion that the Republic will likely follow Britain out of the EU.)
It is easy, from London, to underestimate the place of feeling in the negotiations. But although Hoey can claim that the UK is a “friend of the Republic of Ireland”—adding that “the relations have never been as good”—the sentiment is not necessarily reciprocated over the Irish Sea, where many feel that Britain must now lie in the bed they made in June 2016.
While the Spectator can point out the difficulties of Varadkar’s position in practice, his office can continue to claim they have been given little choice but to adopt it. One does not need to be a big fan of the Taoiseach to recognise that not only is the Republic of Ireland entitled to push back against problems which they had nothing to do with creating, but there is also growing resentment at their treatment by British politicians and press.
A recent Irish Times headline summarised this well when it declared, “Ignorance of Irish history means Brexit talks will not end well.” (That the article was penned by an immigrant to the country only gives it extra heft.)
Before the EU referendum, there seemed to be relatively little discussion about the difficulty of the UK potentially sharing a land border with an EU country—despite a good number of commentators, contrary to recent belief, doing their…