Brexit stuck in Northern Ireland
by Gabriele Bonafede
Impact of Brexit is difficult to calculate. More difficult as long as pandemic’s effect scramble the picture. Yet, in a few issues the damage imposed by Brexit to the UK is already utterly clear. For what concerns export of fishing industry and food and processing sector, Brexit impact has been worse than expected by Brexiteers.
The same goes for Brits living abroad and the financial sector. But the worst impact comes, as predicted, for the survival of UK as a whole nation. The Union is crumbling and risks to fall apart, principally for what concerns Scotland and, above all, Northern Ireland.
Brexit created a border as planned, between the United Kingdom and EU. It created divisions, and divided the United Kingdom in Leavers and Remainers. But it divided UK also physically, geographically and institutionally by creating a border within UK itself – between the UK and Northern Ireland.
And it is in Northern Ireland where Brexit stuck with no hope. Contrary to the Ever Given ship stuck on the Suez Canal weeks ago, hopes to get Brexit ship moving on Northern Ireland’s narrow flows is almost hopeless.
Brexit stuck in Northern Ireland, interlocked forces
As largely predicted by Remainers, local and international forces to get Brexit moving in Northern Ireland are too powerful to be by-passed. The Good Friday Agreement brought peace for 23 years in Northern Ireland. And the mechanism of Good Friday Agreement relies on three main factors: (1) Willingness of two different communities to live peacefully without borders on one side and/or the other; (2) Therefore, no borders on both sides; (3) Flourishing economy thanks to absence of borders on both sides. (4) All of that guaranteed by being within the same continental community – the European Union.
Now Brexit got stuck in NI precisely on the very meaning of Brexit: leaving EU and creating borders. Thus eliminating the very factors ensuring lasting peace in Northern Ireland.
Boris Johnson’s cabinet has been willingly leading Brexit ship to get stuck on Northern Ireland. It ignored the problems of NI since the beginning, falsely stating that no borders would be created by Brexit. In other words, he said that a policy to create borders would have not create borders. This is only one of the many paradoxes of Brexit. With Brexit, problems in NI can only worsen by the day. Flow of peaceful thinking will get stuck as long as trade is stuck, and the choice is inevitably between the pan and the grill.
Creating borders is the very core of Brexit. It is the most dangerous of all Brexit’s effects, because the longer Brexit is blocking peaceful thinking and trading, the worse NI and the UK’s situation will get.
To be, or not to be, that is the question
Brexit cannot be unstuck from the narrow reality of Northern Ireland. There are only two possible outcomes. Either UK will get self-dismantled for the sake of Brexit ship, or Brexit ship will be dismantled for the sake of UK. That is, either UK will continue self-dismantling to make Brexit floating, or UK will dismantle Brexit and re-joins EU.
United Kingdom has to answer the question: to be or not to be.