But let us be absolutely clear on one thing, no matter what he has said in his latest panicked announcement, neither Boris Johnson nor the British government have been on this track from the beginning. In fact, they are extremely late to the party. Our hope – and it is a sincere hope – is that these measures will be enough, but the greatest likelihood is that the gate has been closed long after the horse has bolted. People were always going to die of this virus. There is no way to stop a virus. But Boris Johnson has by his wilful inaction and arrogance set Britain up to fail – and fail bad.
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.’
Irish people, beat down by austerity, sick of the homelessness and the housing crisis, have turned to Sinn Féin in numbers; the only party for a united Ireland – a Republic for all the children of Ireland. As the counting trundled on, one win after another put to bed forever the idea that Ireland cannot awaken from the nightmare of its history, a story imposed on us for centuries by British soldiers, their occupation, laws, and atrocities. At long last our day has come, and the wave – the ‘surge’ – of emotion that rushed through the Republican movement was equalled only by...
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...
In his more sober moments – not that they’re many, even Johnson knows he isn’t driving the Brexit bus here. His mistake is a classic one. Like Cameron and May before him, he thought he could use the racist far-right to his advantage, but the outcome is always and everywhere the same – this particular tail always ends up wagging the dog, and Johnson is being wagged. We all are. The genie is out of the bottle in British politics. The far-right in the guise of the Brexit Party, UKIP, the EDL, and every thuggish messiah of British nationalist street politics is on the march.
Britain is making these preparations because Britain’s domestic political and military leaderships understand what will happen – not what might happen – when food and medicines are cut off from the continent and when the stockpiles are exhausted (which will succumb to corruption). Brexit, the Brexit we now face, presents the United Kingdom with certain unavoidable realities; war in Ireland and a renewed and intensified IRA bombing campaign in England, food and medicine shortages, civil disorder, and widespread rioting over England, Wales, and Scotland.
Students of the far-right are well acquainted with this strategy of waiting. Since Oswald Mosley and his British Union of Fascists, all the essential ingredients of true ideological racism – white supremacism and fascism – have been patiently waiting in the undergrowth, moving through a series of permutations; the National Front, the BNP, UKIP, and the Brexit Party – to name a few. Farage is not like the more obvious racists. He’s not like Nick Griffin or Tommy Robinson.
There are plenty of open calls for violence against Muslims. “Punish a Muslim Day” was not a one-off, it was merely a call to action from the far-right that, thanks to the internet, came to more people’s attention. Theresa May and Boris Johnson know about these calls for pogroms and acts of violence. In fact, they are no longer threats. Muslims all over the United Kingdom are regular targets of violent attacks and routinely subjected to Islamophobic hate speech.