Outside the marginals

a commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010 & 2015 elections

Two Fingers May

So it’s in the post – two fingers to the EU. And the Tory backbenchers will wet themselves with excitement and the Daily Mail will be ecstatic.

But Theresa May is giving  two fingers to more than the EU.

It is two fingers to the 48%. The referendum exposed a rift in the country; invoking Article 50 puts a wedge into that rift and the next two years will hammer us apart.

It is probably two fingers to some of the 52% – they did not all support the brutality of the Exit that the three Brexiteers are driving towards.

It is two fingers to the Scots. But then the Scots are used to getting two fingers from the Tories. However, you can only do that so many times before you open up the fracture between Scotland and the “rest of the UK”.

It is two fingers to the Republic of Ireland. “But they are not part of the UK – why do they matter?”. Because we are going to enforce on them – probably with the usual English subtlety – new border controls. If we (both) want an “open” border between the Republic and Northern Ireland, there has to be a hard border somewhere – otherwise all claims about Brexit controlling immigration into the UK are value-less.

So do we have a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Rest of the UK – a sea border is after all easier to police – and give two fingers to the Unionists in Northern Ireland. What price “the Union” then?

Or do we tell the Republic that the price of an open border with Northern Ireland is a hard border between the Republic and the Rest of the EU as defined by us?

It’s two fingers all round. It worked in the days of the Empire – why shouldn’t it work now?

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