“Let’s go.”“We can’t.”“Why not?”“We’re waiting for Godot.”Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot
Interesting piece from David McWilliams on an unintended consequence of the Brexit vote. The title – ‘A nation once again? Don’t write it off’ – neatly encapsulates his argument and commits the obvious sin of deviating from a pro-unionist consensus. The line of reasoning he follows is:
The English lead the British out of Europe. The Scottish then go to the polls again, wanting to stay in Europe. They have to leave the UK to stay in the EU, and by a small margin they vote to stay in Europe but leave the English. Not unfeasible.
The rump UK becomes an entity involving a eurosceptic England, a modestly pro-European but compliant Wales and an ever-divided Northern Ireland. However it is a Northern Ireland shorn of its fraternal brothers, the Scots – in a union with the ambivalent English. There has never been the same cultural affinity between the English and the Northern Unionists.
He uses this a background to argue that a potential outcome of a #Brexit vote could be Irish re-unification. Unsurprisingly, unionists are leaping to his offence arguing that he has based his argument on assumptions that are incorrect. Ian Parsley has claimed McWilliams argument has reversed the economic strengths of north and south despite the fact that the north (unlike anywhere in the south) is consistently listed as one of Europe’s poorest regions. Unfortunately for Parsley, Eurostat data supports McWilliams arguments. Parsley does manage to conclude by extracting a no (to Brexit) argument from McWilliams article:
Indeed, it only serves to make a chain of events leading to Northern Ireland’s unmanaged and unplanned ejection from the EU and then potentially from a disintegrating UK even less palatable than Mr McWilliams suggests.
This is why no one in Northern Ireland should be taking the “leave” risk – Unionist or Nationalist, financially or economically.
Obviously a Brexit is potentially the most disruptive event that we will have seen in a long time. In the context of increasing Irish nationalist disengagement from politics in the north, an argument projecting possible Irish re-unification off the back of a ‘Yes to Brexit’ vote may simply erect yet another straw man for Irish nationalism (whether it also does so for
unionism British nationalism is a different question). While the contours of the political landscape won’t be clear until after that Brexit vote, a clear lesson for [Irish] nationalism from recent elections is that it needs to be more abrasive and assertive. Awaiting another potential false dawn that appears to be on the horizon is no longer an option.