“History is all thud and blunder.”
— James Joyce
A hundred years ago or even fifty it’s the sort of thing that would have led to a war.
Among a set of proposals the European Union has put forward as a fall back position should Brexit talks get even more sticky, the idea that when England leaves the Union, Northern Ireland should remain. Quite rightly, the Union maintains that this will prevent a return to a hard border between the UK and Northern Ireland and the Republic and avoid giving the Good Friday Accords a bad case of the jitters and shakes. England, in the form of PM May has quite rightly pointed out that agreeing to the proposal would mean allowing the EU to partition the UK and with the stroke of a pen (or 27 pens as the case may be) dismantle the UK and its sovereignty. In effect the EU would be annexing Ireland.
One could point out that allowing a plebiscite that undermines the authority of Parliament was also a turn of the screw that undermined the sovereignty of the state but such thinking almost certainly exceeds the g-force limits of the PM let alone the average Tory. Frankly were not even certain the average Corbyn supporter could tolerate the reality of the situation for more than few minutes without their head exploding but there it is nonetheless.
What strikes us as even more interesting (or disturbing) is that this situation is exactly the sort of thing that used to lead to a war and, frankly seems destined to lead at least to a trade war now or in the not too distant future. And in fact, could lead to something worse.
Nonsense say the wise old heads. But of course that’s what they would say, isn’t it?
Consider the possibilities.
May commits political suicide and tells the Tories and the Brexit goons that saving the EU is worth more than maintaining the UK. That of course will lead her to becoming the political equivalent of a monarch being sent to the national razor. The Tories will revolt, Boris will lead the procession to toss May overboard and hold another election which, he/they will lose. And which in turn will send the Tories into the political wilderness for a generation or more.
Possibility two: May refuses the Union’s demands and there is large scale civil unrest in Ireland. May is forced to intervene to protect the status quo and the Good Friday Accord and…sends in the army. The Troubles return, May is thrown to the wolves and everywhere the blood dimmed tide…Corby is elected as the “peace candidate” withdraws the army (in “humiliation”) and cedes N. Ireland to the EU and Corbyn’s hold on power becomes tenuous at best as England slips into political disarray.
Possibility Three: May refuses, gets the boot, Corbyn becomes PM and presides over the de facto dismemberment of the UK as Northern Ireland is for all intents and purposes traded to the EU for a stack of cash and a cricketer batter to be named later. This becomes the rallying cry of the Tories (their version of the stab in the back) and they rail against Labor/Corbyn for proving to be (in their fevered state) everything they said he was: feckless, a Bolshevik, and a man who hates the home team. The UK then slowly disintegrates leaving England as a fourth rate EU rump and/or American satrapy.
Possibility four: May refuses to give in, Ireland explodes, she sends in the army and shuts the border and takes the EU to court claiming they are violating the sovereignty of the UK while the EU retaliates by accusing May and UK INc. of human rights violations in Northern Ireland.
A trade war ensues. Smuggling becomes rampant. The Troubles 2.0 begins and “terrorism” returns along with all of it ugly corollaries including assorted atrocities, hostage situations, and wounded soldiers on the BBC, and etc. And as a result, England becomes a pariah state, the economy tumbles, and suddenly, as Ireland disintegrates into civil war, it starts to reek (even more than it does now) of the 1930s.
And anything is possible.*
For a look at the issue see the following:
*Keep in mind that the Brexit goons, Boris and Farage chief among them, were either morons of an epic and baroque fashion for not taking this into account while they were prattling on about saving money for the NHS or they knew full well that the issue of Northern Ireland would lead to a catastrophe and they wanted it or they didn’t care. If the former than it is potentially their version of The Reichstag Fire and they are vile racist goons guilty of traditional English contempt for the Irish as well as politicas as gangsterism. If it’s the latter than they are epic morons who have stumbled their way into a shit show of operatic proportions and their bigotry is only slightly less disgusting because they come to it by accident though that will be small comfort to the dead and maimed if Ireland falls back into the vortex. In such a situation look for the usual suspects – assorted demagogues and politically feckless opportunities, righteous fear mongers and patriots – and look for them all to combust as if forced into a pressure cooker from which only a bloody mass can emerge.
And one might add, if only America had an actual president instead of a cross between a Batman villain and a third rate real estate thug. The stability of Europe as always is in the national interest of America and the indispensable nation is currently MIA.
Lastly, keep in mind they get newspapers and the internet in Ireland too. And among the people who are reading the news are those who used to be in the IRA. If you were a former bomb maker or “soldier” and you were looking at the growing spat between the EU and England, what would you be thinking? Perhaps you’d be thinking it’s time to dust off those old plans and remember where you buried the stuff you weren’t supposed to keep when the peace treaty was signed.
Things like this develop their own gravitational field which then generates its own set of vortices. What if, and what do you suppose they’re up to all start to gather momentum. In a vacuum devoid of leadership the best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity.
The sense of worry is making itself felt higher up the food chain. For details see the following: