Tuesday 25 September 2018

National pride rather than bleak vision has to drive Irish renewal

A nation can 'take back control', but then it must make the right choices for the way ahead, writes Ed Brophy

US President Donald Trump. Photo: Getty Images
US President Donald Trump. Photo: Getty Images

Ed Brophy

Of all the slogans of our turbulent age, none has been more potent than "take back control". That enticing message was enough to persuade a majority of British voters to quit the EU. It also took centre stage in Donald Trump's victorious US presidential campaign. After all, what else is building a wall but taking back control?

But translating the slogan into the reality of governing has proven altogether trickier. In Britain and the US, people now realise there is a price to pay for control - one that may ultimately outweigh any benefits. In Britain, both the Conservative government and Labour opposition are openly divided over the extent of control they wish to exert. The British government's own forecasts last week suggested that by leaving the single market in order to control immigration, the poorest regions of the UK - those most in favour of taking back control - would suffer the most economically.

Meanwhile, in the US, the physical limits at the Mexican frontier and China's growing economic power have made border and trade control far less workable in practice than in theory.

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