The defeat of Theresa May’s deal is the latest episode of a political crisis that is engulfing these islands.
In normal circumstances, a Prime Minister who lost by over 200 votes would tender her resignation. But she is running a Tory Party that is divided between a faction who dream of a return to the British empire –and a pro-business element who worry about the effect of Brexit on their economy.
They hate each other – but they hate Jeremy Corbyn even more because he threatens their privileged life style. So they will prop up May like a zombie to keep running Britain.
The result is that Ireland is careering towards a no-deal, hard border – much to the glee of the DUP. This is despite the democratic wishes of people in the North.
The only way this deadlock can be broken is by a change in strategy by the Irish government.
They should demand a border poll to give people in the North a right to decide if they want partition or not. They should hold a simultaneous poll on the South to see if there is democratic support for a different type of Ireland. This is only logical way to prevent a hard border. A number of polls suggest that there is growing support for this option amongst many who are sickened by the antics of the DUP.
The political establishment, however, do not want this poll. They say it is divisive and would inflame passions. But all referenda are divisive as the Repeal vote in the South showed. Even if they are ‘divisive’, they are still necessary as a democratic mechanism to sort out fundamental issues.
The real reason the Southern political establish do not want a poll is that they fear a united Ireland might eventually threaten their own rule.
This is why they are operating a cloak and dagger strategy to pave the way to accepting hard border.
This morning Irish Independent is reporting on a private conversation held between Simon Coveney and Shane Ross, when they thought they were not being recorded. Ross had bungled a press question by indicating there might be checks on the border between the North and South. He then asked Coveney if that was the right answer. Here is how Coveney replied:
Yes, but we can’t get into where they’ll be at this stage. They could be in the sea, they could be… But once you start talking about checks anywhere near the border, people will start delving into that and all of a sudden we’ll be the government that reintroduced a physical border on the island of Ireland.”
Shane Ross: “Yeah, but I didn’t know what to say.”
This snippet shows the real strategy of the Irish government. In the event of a no deal Brexit, they will follow EU orders and put up border posts. The DUP will push for the same on the other side. Both will then tell their population that ’they had no choice’.
There is, however, a choice – either we get a vote on partition – or a hard border is imposed on us.
People Before Profit proposed a border poll in the Dail on November 21st and won 26 votes in favour. But the combined establishment of FG, FF and Labour voted it down.
In the coming weeks, we will have to return to this option to avoid a hard border.