For the first time in modern Irish history, the Irish electorate has been free to devote all its attention to Ireland and the many problems we have here – and many of those are hangovers from British rule or products of the post-colonial mess England left in its passing. Our efforts to pacify Britain and convince it we’re more than animals – our inferiority complex – have created a quasi-collaborationist middle, professional, and political class which has failed Ireland, which has failed the 1916 Republic and its promise of ‘the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland.’
As if on cue, no sooner was Brexit Day over than news began circulating of a notice posted for residents in a Norwich tower block telling people to speak English or go home. ‘We do not tolerate people speaking other languages than English in the flats,’ said the notice, before going on to encourage immigrants to return to their own countries and free up housing for white English-speaking British people. Monika Wiśniewska, a Polish author living in England, took to social media to describe how Polish people were now being described as ‘vermin.’
Less than fifteen minutes in I was too dejected to listen any more. The social media feed was telling me I wasn’t alone. Another over-hyped empty announcement from ‘the only person who can win our independence,’ another dead-end from ‘the only show in town,’ and another painful frustration from ‘the only party that can do it.’ Of course, I bought none of this. Reason and the experience of the past six years warned me to expect nothing, but hope – that twisted trick the psyche plays on us – had me thinking there was a chance; slim and unlikely, but a chance.
You may have noticed that Brexit has entirely replaced terrorism – the staple of British news between 2001 and 2016 – in the British broadcast and print media. Not even the suicide bombing of the Manchester Arena in May 2017 was able to unseat the Brexit agenda from our television screens for more than a month, which is interesting considering the British media’s prior behaviour in response to non-fatal terrorism stories and acts of terrorism in other western countries.
In 2014 we saw ourselves as a small nation in a David-versus-Goliath fight. Realistically, in the beginning we did not expect to win. One theme repeated frequently at the time was that we just wanted to be a nuisance, that we wanted to have a bit of craic, upset the apple cart, and maybe – if we got lucky – give the English political establishment a bloody nose. We saw ourselves as a pesky younger sibling trying to make a point. But something changed. At some point in August 2014 it dawned on us that we might win – that we had a real shot of securing independence.
Xavier Bettel, we can be sure, speaks for the vast majority of European leaders. The United Kingdom’s shambolic handling of its departure from Europe is a serious matter. Not only does this threaten the health and well-being of ordinary people in the UK, it poses a serious risk to the peace and security of Ireland – an EU member state, it promises serious and far-reaching economic consequences for the United Kingdom and the European Union, and creates – by damaging the integrity of the institutions which have preserved peace and coöperation since the end of the Second World War...
Boris Johnson, our new Prime Minister, is a man who shamelessly stood in front of a bus during the Brexit referendum campaign and told voters that leaving the European Union would return £350 million every week to essential public services like the NHS; all the while knowing this was untrue. Since moving into Number 10 he has repeated over and again that his government is engaged in ongoing negotiations with its European partners, when the European parliament and commission have unequivocally stated this is not the case.
For perhaps the first time in over three centuries the angry man on the street in London has been forced to accept that – in theory – the Scottish people and Scots Law can rip from him his assumption of his dominance over Scotland. In theory, we have the power to derail and stop Brexit, and this has predictably provoked him to rage. The response, if anything, demonstrates the utter lack in England of any semblance of self-reflection; telling Scotland to ‘fuck off’ when the majority in Scotland want to do just that. Outsiders looking in must be awfully confused...