Brexit – A dirty word in any European Language.

I don’t know about you, but I am sick of Brexit.  Mind you I was pretty sick of the petty squabbles our Westminster and Stormont politicians kept harping on about even before the Brexit vote.  So here is my semi reasoned view of the situation.

We hear a lot about the wonderful democratic process that we went through to get to the current impasse.  Don't forget it still has to get through parliament and the other 27 countries.  I don’t often agree with Corbin, but while people on either side of the Brexit debate were either slagging off the EU or singing its unequivocal praises, I remember that his expressed opinion of it was “seven out of ten”.  In other words it isn’t perfect, but it’s better than nothing.  That was probably the most honest thing that was said in the whole convoluted lead up to the referendum.  There was so much drivel and misinformation told by both sides, few voters could have made a reasonable voting judgement.  The result sucks on that count alone.

We are told that we must stand by the democratic decision of the voters.  OK, I admit it, the majority of people who bothered to turn out voted to leave.  But it was not a landslide; only 3.8% more people voted to leave than to remain.  Really?  A change of this magnitude is happening on a 3.8% margin?  Add to that the gross overconfidence of the remain campaign (don’t forget here that the Tory government were so sure of a remain vote that they didn’t even bother to put together a plan for what would happen if people voted to leave), and I doubt if it would be unreasonable to say that a greater proportion of leave voters turned out.  27.8% of the electorate did not vote.  Would some of them have made the effort had they not been led to believe that a remain vote was a certainty?

And what of the endless posturing by both sides that has been going on ever since?  Would some of the leave voters have changed their minds had they known about all this?  It wouldn’t take too many mind changes to reverse the result, yet the intransigent UK government refuses to think about another vote.  There is a good president for a second vote too.  Remember the Irish referendums on the Treaty of Lisbon back in 2008/9?  The turnout went up in the second vote, and the result swung the other way.

So, what happens if Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK end up crashing out of the EU without a deal (as looks increasingly likely).

Firstly, if the world’s sixth largest economy suddenly finds its access to Europe drastically curtailed, there will be a recession in the UK.  I don’t think there can be any doubt about this.  The same applies to EU economies.  Reduce their access to the UK, and economic meltdown will be the result.  Recession on that scale will not leave the rest of the world immune either. Now there is something to look forward to!  I can’t even speculate on what will happen here on the Island, but it is unlikely to be constructive.  I do however think that our DUP masters are missing a trick in ruling out special status for Northern Ireland.

Many businesses are talking of fleeing the UK to preserve their links with the EU.  Now imagine what would have happened if the DUP had any imagination.  An Irish Sea border could have been used to encourage UK businesses like banks to move to the North instead of places like Frankfurt, thus preserving both their UK and EU links, and creating a vibrant NI economy.  The special status thus would have strengthened the Union, while growing the Irish economy with some worthwhile and well paid jobs.  Since Project Kelvin brought high speed internet connections to Ireland, we already have the basis of the necessary infrastructure, all that was needed was a little lateral thinking…..but the DUP don’t seem to be very good at that.  As Connolly once said, ‘England’s difficulty is Ireland’s opportunity’, but then the DUP were never going to see the sense of a nationalist slogan, even if it showed the way to Northern Irelands gain.

Instead we seem, like the proverbial headless chickens, once more to be running aimlessly towards our own worst ending.  Watch this space.


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