Wednesday 25 April 2018

This isn't the apocalypse - the English just don't want to be part of an EU superstate

'If withdrawal works out for the UK, other nations may well follow.' Photo: PA
'If withdrawal works out for the UK, other nations may well follow.' Photo: PA

Brendan Morley

Two friends of mine in London voted for Brexit last week. Both retired schoolteachers, the husband was a head of economics, the wife a head of modern languages, teaching French and German. Her grandparents were Irish. Their son is a futures trader in the City of London.

The couple have a cottage in a French village and the husband now also speaks French fluently.

They love Europe - they just don't want to be in the EU any more.

I was born and reared in Old Trafford, Manchester, and my parents were from Mayo. Like most Mancunians, I am, of course, a Red.

At no time have I ever felt the gulf in understanding between England and Ireland to be as wide, not even during the Troubles. The hysteria in Ireland over Brexit is just staggering.

I was not surprised by the result, as so many left-leaning, middle-class liberals had told me they would vote Leave.

More than 17 million people did so, from all parties and none. The UK has not suddenly fallen to a surge of racist and economically illiterate 'Little Englander' Neanderthals turning their backs on Europe and trashing their own country.

While migration clearly was an issue - net inward migration in the year to March was 330,000, that's the combined populations of Cork, Limerick and Waterford cities in one year - the biggest factor uniting Leave voters was despair that the EU would ever be reformed.

And they just don't want to be part of an EU superstate. That's all.

Anger with the EU is spreading across the continent, if not yet to Ireland - that's the same EU that left Irish taxpayers to pick up the €64bn bill for saving Europe's banking system.

If withdrawal works out for the UK - and Leave voters had factored in a couple of years of economic turbulence - other nations may well follow.

As for the British, they are gone, politically at least, from the EU for good - c'est fini, alles vorbei, it is over. But the time for judgment is at the end of this process, not now.

If you find a bookie offering odds on the UK still being in the single market in 2019, still buying German cars, French wine and Irish beef, but having cut a deal on free movement, take the bet.

The apocalypse is on hold. Get a grip.

Brendan Morley settled in Ireland 16 years ago

Irish Independent

Business Newsletter

Read the leading stories from the world of Business.

Also in Business