A Border Poll one day? Then let’s do it right

In yet another eventful couple of weeks in politics, what caught my eye the most wasn’t plans for a national broadband service, fanciful budget splurges or cringey speeches and interviews. It wasn’t mini-electoral pacts across dozens of seats in England and the ever-changing sands of political alignment over the Great Brexit Divide. Closer to home, it wasn’t even Lady Hermon stepping down, loyalist paramilitary threats to UUP candidates, a stage-managed Sinn Fein leadership contest or the tiny dramas of other …

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Breaking the Union: Brexit, Boris and the Backstop

Analysed too closely, the Tory leadership race and its implications becomes more surreal by the day. Understanding its rules, relating to this, is futile: we can only observe and remark, our noses pressed with disbelief against a window of a strange and distant court that will soon decide our immediate fate. At this crucial point, we can all agree whatever is coming will mean something for us. The only questions are what, how and when. The who will likely be Boris Johnson, less probably Jeremy Hunt. Both Eton …

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Big Votes, Big Mess

According to Lenin, there are decades in history where nothing happens, and then sometimes weeks where decades happen. If that is true, then Brexit seems to have given us a third category entirely: a weekly cycle of impossible drama and contradiction that merely feeds into another baffling cycle of the same, where weeks feel like years, years sometimes like weeks, where so many things change, and yet, finally, nothing ever does. It’s like UK has sold the rights of its …

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UK Media Must Up Its Game

Here’s a question for future historians: will the UK media be blamed as much as its politicians, should Brexit really hit the skids in just a few weeks’ time? If not, it really should. Take one story as an example from the weekend: Jacob Rees-Mogg’s fanciful suggestion that a £13.8m shipping contract awarded by the UK Government as part of its emergency No Deal preparations may have collapsed from political pressure from notoriously anti-business Leo Varadkar. The premise? Arklow Shipping Limited, the …

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Future Ireland / Breaking waves – Considering a New Ireland in 2019

As the drama in Westminster continues, it’s fair to say that in 2019 and beyond, Northern Ireland’s often petty and tedious politics will be interesting, as an international spotlight passes over old scars and immense change looms once again. At times, it feels like we are back on a familiar shore, where the waves grow bigger and the very sand is moving below our feet. Brexit, now, is like a meteor landing in the distant sea. Suddenly, many of the …

Read more…Future Ireland / Breaking waves – Considering a New Ireland in 2019