Risking making the greatest understatement of the decade, it’s fair to say that we are in a mess. Given that both the government and the opposition are committed to leaving the EU, and given that right-wing mobs are now gathering around Westminster with placards depicting executions and advocating political violence – a sure indication we have reached a pre-revolutionary phase of this unfolding shambles, there will be no re-run of the Brexit referendum and there will be no so-called People’s Vote. Those ships have sailed. Whether we like it or not, we are now heading into the abyss.
Getting the proposal through the Commons will require 325 votes. Before this crisis the government had, together with its confidence and supply purchase, a majority of one – with 326 seats. It no longer has this. With a conservative estimate of losses, the government’s vote is reduced to about 276; that’s 50 votes shy of the majority it needs. So, can this vote be passed? Of course, but nothing is guaranteed. We can exclude from the equation Sinn Féin’s 7 seats. The Irish republicans refuse to take their seats in the British parliament. This brings May’s shortfall to somewhere closer to 40-45 votes.
In practical terms this divergence means that British rule on the island of Ireland will come to an end, ultimately bringing about the conditions in which a border poll on the constitutional future of the six counties will be reduced to little more than a legal formality. Given the population demographics of the province and the mutual economic interdependence of Ireland and the six counties, the long-term consequence of this deal – if agreed – will be the eventual unification of Ireland.
From the moment the Brexit referendum result was announced there has been a phenomenal demand in the province for Irish passports – a sign of at least a pragmatic willingness to bury the hatchet.