For my part, I don’t believe much of the hype about the effects of the UK pulling out on the EU. That’s not to say that there won’t be any. But my own view is that, as with technology, we overestimate such effects in the short term but underestimate them in the longer run.
So I don’t believe in the three-match accumulator leading to the inevitable break-up of the UK being touted by two Irish commentators I hold in the highest esteem, ie David McWilliams and Fintan O’Toole. This comes under the former rather than the latter.
More telling is that two members of the present Cabinet [both called Theresa? – Ed] are talking out of different sides of their mouths when it comes to the likely effects of the UK pulling out will have on the border. Well, how long is a piece of string? [Er, about 499 km? – Ed]
This goes to the heart of why calling a referendum on a deal you haven’t actually done is so disingenuous. It allows the Secretary of State to pick and choose from separate and conflicting scenarios in order to answer the question in the most politically advantageous way.
The Home Secretary (who has been conspicuous mostly by her absence from this campaign thus far) is likely taking the least politically sustainable scenario implied by Leave’s mega-promises on Immigration and suggesting that ‘taking control’ of the UK’s border’s must mean controls at Cross.
She has a point, up to a point. As I have argued here before, any departure will see the ignition of seriously political will to close as many potential gaps as much as possible. But if Ireland remains in (and they have plenty of incentives to do so), single market rules will apply.
I’ve not seen the figures for populations flows, but surely they are likely to be affected by any attempt by post-Brexit UK to close the doors on immigration? How does a post-Brexit UK deal with that without tightening control at the land border or English/Scottish ports?
There are other unquantified risks around smuggling and cross-border criminality, but let’s not gild the lily too much. The truth is that the Secretary of State must have had briefings on all of these potential scenarios as part of the day job.
If she has it is odd that in all of these unambiguously risky shifts should result in a single solution (ie in terms of checks at the border) providing us with a single providential promise that nothing will change?
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty