BoJo’s Internal Market Bill has once again thrown the UK cat among the EU pigeons as the Right-wing of the ruling Conservative party at Westminster battles to ensure the UK has an effective Brexit deal in the bag by Halloween - Covid 19 or no Covid 19 pandemic!
While there has been much discussion that the latest bill - which passed through the Commons last week - may have broken international law, the bill’s actual existence actually lifts the lid on the real crisis facing BoJo’s Tory loyalists - who do the English dump first, Scotland or Northern Ireland?
Or to put it in hard fiscal terms, which nation (or nations!) of the existing United Kingdom could England Wales financially benefit from by cutting that country adrift in a post-Brexit British Isles?
With Scottish nationalism once more on the ascendancy after a past General Election hiccup, and Northern Ireland firmly in the ‘Remain’ camp and still championing the outcome of the 2016 EU referendum specifically in the Province, it is abundantly clear the folk who run Westminster need to cut their losses somewhere.
Six years ago in an earlier article, I teased out the subject of dumping Scotland and keeping Ireland: https://www.thepensivequill.com/2014/08/theyve-scot-no-chance-republic-would-be.html?m=0
After all, how much more North Sea oil can the Scots provide for the English Government in London? While Welsh nationalists may shout ‘what about us’, the political reality is that there’s a better chance of a snow storm in hell than Wales voting to become an independent nation adrift of the UK.
Northern Ireland has become an increasingly expensive sideline for the Westminster Government over the past almost 100 years. It took a global pandemic to get a three-year suspended Assembly back on its feet.
With all the problems of a potential border in the Irish Sea, would it be easier for London to agree an all-island set-up with Dublin, give the Scots their independence and make the English/Scottish border the real future border with the EU.
After all, Scotland did vote ‘Remain’ and it would be inevitable that an independent Scotland would want to rejoin the EU as soon as politically possible. Indeed, the key question which the pro-Union community in Northern Ireland has to address is: what advantage is it to London to keep the Province in the UK?
Now that Unionism is no longer the majority political ideology in Northern Ireland given the results of three past elections, the pro-Union community is constantly being lectured that it has to ‘sell’ the benefits of being in the Union to so-called non-Unionists.
However, when the contents of the recent Internal Market Bill are taken into consideration, perhaps the real ‘hard sell’ should be as to why London should keep Northern Ireland?
If the Internal Market Bill is proven to be a breach of international law, what is to stop the London Government bringing in legislation which effectively ‘dumps’ Northern Ireland out of the UK, creating a united Ireland in all but name?
Was it not the so-called staunch pro-Union Prime Minister Maggie Thatcher who said during a parliamentary speech in November, 1981: “Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom; as much as my constituency is”.
Maggie’s ‘As British as Finchley’ speech seemed to have been forgotten conveniently four years later when she signed the Anglo-Irish Agreement in November 1985 to give Dublin its first major say in the running of Northern Ireland since partition in the 1920s.
The worst case scenario for Unionists in both Scotland and Northern Ireland is that London concludes it would be economically viable to have a mini-UK of just England and Wales and get rid of both the other nations.
Perhaps the bitter medicine which the pro-Union community in Northern Ireland must face is that an all-island scenario may be their only way forward to secure some kind of position within the UK.
However, the persuasion tactic will be to persuade the Irish Republic that it should rejoin the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, especially if Brexit isolates the Republic not just geographically, but also economically.
Ireland in 1911 - when the entire island was part of the British Empire - was a founder member of the Empire Parliamentary Association, which became the CPA in the years after the end of the Second World War.
The present CPA represents more than 50 national and regional parliaments, not all of whom were members of the former British Empire.
What must be recognised in today’s post pandemic global market is that Ireland - north and south as an island - must be part of a major financial grouping if it is not to suffer the economic Celtic Tiger-style meltdowns of the past.
Long gone are the days when a unionist politician could be disciplined for going south of the Irish border on official business. The pro-Union community must realise that what happens in the southern 26 counties radically affects what happens in the northern six counties - and vice versa.
The new coalition government in Leinster House has clearly shown that when it comes to dealing with the Shinners, old foes in Fine Gael and Fianna Fail can come together to keep out Sinn Fein.
Is this a blunt message to the republican movement; if there’s no role for your Sinn Fein party in the 26 counties, then there’s certainly no place for you Shinners in a united Ireland?
If Westminster can push through the Internal Market Bill, could it be persuaded to pass the New Anglo-Irish Treaty which brings the Irish Republic back into the CPA to guarantee Southern Ireland’s economic survival in a post Covid 19 market?
Listen to Dr John Coulter’s religious show, Call In Coulter, every Saturday morning around 9.30 am on Belfast’s Christian radio station, Sunshine 1049 FM, or listen online at www.thisissunshine.com