Anglo-centrism and Irexit… January 23, 2017Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
Fascinating piece in the SBP this weekend by Tom McGurk. I don’t often go ‘wow’ reading an article anywhere, but I’ve got to admit he surprised me. I’ve long felt that his support for Irexit went beyond simple antipathy to the EU – and by the by, antipathy to the EU is a not unreasonable position. And for the first part of his piece it feels, and he says as much, like a retread of arguments he’s already articulated.
He writes, for example…
For months now, this column has been arguing that simply engaging in quiet diplomacy and hoping for the best from the EU – which has been the government’s entire strategy to date – is increasingly looking like an inadequate if not perilous misjudgment.
Given the now unmistakeable hostility evident all across Europe to Britain’s Brexit shopping list, intensified by Whitehall’s flirtation with a Trump presidency which Brussels now suspects wants to undermine the EU, why should the EU be magnanimous? Should they even care that a hard breast will actually cause more long-term damage to Ireland than to Britain.
That last is questionable, but he continues:
The bottom line in all of this is that because our government, by indicating from day one that seemingly in any circumstances create by Brexit we are committed to remain in the EU, we have effectively abandoned any real prospect of any effective negotiation on our part. Why should Brussels be concerned about any of our problems if they now from the outset that the day after Brexit, we will have taken our medicine irrespective and will e quietly staggering along in the EU? Ireland is too small, too take, and even has some past form that Brussels hasn’t always approved of.
Well yes, but he seems oblivious of the reality that that cuts both ways. If we are that small pray tell why would the UK take any notice of us at all. It’s pretty happy to ignore Scotland which is a constituent part of it. It appears unmoved by the implications of Brexit to the GFA as it is. What pressure does he believe the ROI on its own could possibly bring to bear in any negotiation?
He doesn’t actually say. What he does suggest is that Ireland might become like Switzerland, ‘part of the single market – the EU is their biggest trading customer – and they allow free movement, but like non-Eu members they are able to conclude bilateral trade agreements and continue to enjoy extensive FDI from the US.
But hold on, only a paragraph previously he writes that in addition to a hard Brexit ‘causing havoc with our trade, Britain rivalling our corporation tax and the catastrophic impact of Brexit on the border’… ‘add to this scenario Donald Trump’s US presidency unraveling the thousands of American-created jobs in Ireland’.
He doesn’t unpick the contradiction between that and a Swiss approach dependent upon FDI. Indeed he then goes on to say Lichtenstein might be a model for the RoI.
I was talking this last week to a left economist whose take – and they’d be as critical of the EU as many of us, perhaps more so actually, was that an Irexit would be catastrophic for this state economically. It’s not hard to see why. Where’s the percentage in Ireland becoming Britain’s mini-me, attempting to undercut it (should corporation tax fall, etc). Indeed the counter argument is that the RoI, taking account of the challenges offered by Brexit as outlined by McGurk, might find its English speaking, peripheral geographical position as a gateway to the EU as quite a positive new role for it in future.
But none of this is particularly new from McGurk. Nothing unexpected. Until we get to the last quarter of the article.
Do we have a political class with the courage and the leadership qualities to step out and defend Ireland’s interest? Apart from their inability to imagine an existence outside the EU, they also persevere with the dangerous presumption, that an independent Irish state can happily survive without the proverbial mothership next door.
Say again, Tom?
It’s a fascinating thought, but Brexit may also be about to expose another national secret, the extent to which our independence has always essentially been a proxy, dependent on our relationship with Britain. Ireland may be our motherland, but Britain has always been like an auntie or uncle with a spare bed available and a job down the road. Britain has bene the Irish people chosen escape route for so many reasons.
Do our Brexit negotiations forget that the comment travel area was more an umbilical cord than just an open road? In the past when our independence experiment [sic – wbs] was crashed by our political class, as it was frequently, they escaped the consequences by simply exporting their problems.
In the 50s almost half a million went and where did the majority go so recently aft erat Tiger crashed? In the years since we both entered the EU, who can dispute that commercially, culturally and psychologically, increasing Britain and Ireland are becoming almost the same entity?
Huh? What? Really?
And he says:
Indeed, the notion that EU membership lessened our dependence on Britain is a myth, in fact the levels of direct business investment and cross-border trade have mushroomed since 1973.
There is so much there, so many assumptions, so many misconceptions (not least that trade=dependence) that I’m at a loss to know where to start, but one thing is for sure.
I guess at least we know where he stands, that all the stuff about the EU – about us being ‘the patsies of Europe’, about ‘our’ sovereignty, independence and so on appears at root be a rather cosmetic facade for a political position that would, it would seem, be quite content to turn the clock back to… well, when? Pick a date, any date between 1780 and 1948. And what sort of relationship does he really envisage this – to coin a phrase ‘semi-state’ that Ireland clearly is in his eyes with the UK. What was it I wrote last week, Scotland on steroids (notably he again doesn’t mention anything about the internal tensions inside the UK, perhaps that comes with a conceptual focus trained so strongly on London), Catalonia, home rule, something else?