‘Any port in a storm’ is the watchword of those who defy the democratic mandate won by Brexit in 2016.
Whether it’s frightening old ladies with tales of unavailable medicine if Britain reverts to trading with the EU27 on the same basis as most of the rest of the world, or spooking the healthy over a shortage of apples (though most people never eat one). But the most enduring has been the border between Ireland and the British colony of just six counties in the northeast of Ireland.
Though that colony has long ceased to have any strategic or economic purpose for Britain, its potential loss to the Crown has achieved iconic status for the Tory backwoodsmen driving Brexit at Westminster, and to British and European liberals alike. Surprisingly, the Irish republicans who have fought tirelessly for the re-unification of their small island for centuries are now much exercised by it too. In truth, England’s difficulty over Brexit is Ireland’s opportunity. Irish unity is much more likely to come about because of Brexit, and sooner than anyone can have imagined.
The proximate cause is the decision of the citizens of the north to remain in the EU, whilst the majority in the British state voted to leave. They did this despite the hardline unity-with-Britain parties – principally the DUP – campaigning hard for Brexit. The formerly viscerally anti-EU Sinn Fein was on the winning side in the north despite its support base being in a (narrowing) minority in the gerrymandered statelet. Thus, if people in the north want to remain in the European Union, the solution is obvious and achievable by democratic means – a border poll as provided for in the internationally agreed Good Friday Agreement – and the reunification of their country.