Monday 23 October 2017

Irish man in the UK on election shock: 'Within a year boringly stable Britain has gone bonkers'

Cormac Breen
Cormac Breen

Cormac Breen

So, it seems that within a year, boringly stable Britain has gone bonkers. Two shocks in a row, and it feels like the British are heading for a crisis of confidence not far from what Ireland experienced with the bailout.

We can only look on with bemusement, and struggle not to flavour that with a hint of schadenfreude. It has been difficult to hear the talk of booming Britain with its bumper Brexit boost - A Nation Once Again set to bestride the world, a beacon of free trade.

Now we will see less austerity; policies will be more centrist. But for the Irish in Britain, the import of this hung parliament is almost all about what it means for Brexit.

The likely hardness of Brexit across a range of election outcomes went from low to high and back again.

A large Tory majority would’ve given Theresa May the room to negotiate a softer outcome. That would’ve become more difficult as her majority reduced, before swinging the other direction under Labour and the SNP.

Now it seems, at the time of writing, that there will be a Tory government staunchly supported by the hard-Brexit DUP. But it will also need the support of both the Eurosceptic wing and the ‘continuity remain’ section of the Conservative party.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Conservative leader Theresa May cast their votes early on Thursday
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Conservative leader Theresa May cast their votes early on Thursday

There is no negotiating stance which will satisfy all of these groups. And the clock is ticking. Is it the job of the EU to save Britain from itself?

Read More: Three ways Ireland - and the Irish in Britain - will be in for a bumpy Brexit ride

Meanwhile, citizens of the world, so derided by Theresa May last year as “citizens of nowhere”, will feel less uncomfortable. For the many of us in Britain for whom Irishness is only one strand of our identity, it will be a relief.

Will businesses, particularly financial institutions, still want to move, in whole or in part, to the rest of Europe? I suspect they will.

They will continue to work quietly on their plans, but announcements will be delayed until the political mood becomes clearer.

Those of us looking to take our experience back home will need to be patient – but not for too long.

You know, for the great British public, Brexit was never really a thing until it became a thing – the solution to everything, almost. But of course it isn’t.

I suspect it will soon become a distraction, an irritant. Many voted for Jeremy Corbyn’s people-before-profit agenda, which is far more concrete than the vague (and in many cases false) promises which carried the leave vote to victory.

The abolishing of university fees will not be down to Jean-Claude Juncker and his band of Brussels bureaucrats.

Of course Brexit will impact Ireland more than the UK. So could we have a (patriotic) role to play? To perhaps do everyone a favour, and respectfully point out to our British friends and colleagues where their real problems lie?

Online Editors

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