Saturday 1 October 2016

Priority now is to tell mandarins in Brussels that there can be no return to a Border

Published 25/06/2016 | 02:30

European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker. Photo: Getty
European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker. Photo: Getty
One of the biggest cheers on Thursday night was for Alex Salmond (pictured) – who would now bet against a second referendum on Scottish independence? Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

I don't do shock, and yet the news from our nearest neighbour across the water was deeply unsettling. As late as 11 o'clock on Thursday you could get odds of 9/1 on that vexed issue that has hung over all our heads since David Cameron went for the biggest gamble of his political life.

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Well he lost.

As did the bookies, and the markets and probably the rest of us. Make no mistake, the consequences of this result are almost entirely negative.

For Ireland they may be bad but for the North and Britain they are simply disastrous.

This result was quarried out of ignorance and arrogance. It was the product of alienation and isolation.

The irony is that those who so embraced a Brexit may also have voted for reduced living standards in a measure that was never likely to improve their circumstances.

The wider consequences for the UK are seismic.

One of the biggest cheers on Thursday night was for Alex Salmond - who would now bet against a second referendum on Scottish independence?

One can only imagine the attitudes in the rest of Britain: "Good riddance to those pesky Jocks."

And does anyone think that those 'Little Englanders' will be any better disposed towards the North, and the £5bn shelled out annually to supplement it?

For our own Government there must be only one priority and that is to spell out to those sleep-walking mandarins in Brussels that there can be no return to a Border.

The relationship between Ireland and Britain is not only special, it is unique.

There must be a Common Travel Area between us. The Border even at the height of the Troubles, was porous, the referendum result is not a mandate for restoring it.

With sterling tumbling, the exodus Northwards to buy cheap petrol - and everything else - could become a stampede. So this must be spelled out as a single national interest priority.

Then there is the danger of the contagion risk for the rest of Europe.

Germany and France may never have struggled to suppress their schadenfreude, bidding the Brits a hasty and gusty adieu.

But for Ireland, what we need to see is a Europe of sovereign states.

With Cameron's departure, one can expect a succession race between two candidates: a moderate pitted against a hard Brexiteer.

The Tories are in disarray, to put it mildly.

Corbyn has been dismal for Labour, so let's not be too surprised by the calling of an autumn election as a new leader seeks to shore up some kind of solid mandate.

With sterling under pressure and so much economic uncertainty, Ireland can expect a buffeting.

The angry disenchanted of Britain have released a genie from the bottle.

The old joke about 'Fog in the Channel. Continent cut off', no longer seems quite so funny.

Irish Independent

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