BRITAIN is unique among the great nations of Europe. It has neither fought to forge its borders, nor have its borders been drawn by another power. Shakespeare's Richard the Second put it best,
“This fortress built by Nature for herself,
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall,
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands”
A century ago the UK ended the Great War at incredible cost, which the continent has never had the grace to repay. The general election of that year was against the backdrop of both the victory and the cost. For Ireland, as for much of Britain, the cost was felt closer to home than the victory.
Sinn Fein won a landslide and withdrew their MP's, illegally, from Westminster. A bitter insurgency followed that ended splitting Ireland in two. Sinn Fein and other Irish parties that split from it never accepted this division. They continually ignored Unionists in the North and in 1937 de Valera held a snap referendum that overturned the Free State settlement and instead founded a republic in all but name that claimed again to represent all of Ireland.
This claim, the official position of the Irish republic, served as the casus bellithe IRA needed to wage an insurgency that led to over 3,000 Irishmen slaughtered in their own land. It took 60 years to reach a Good Friday Agreement that left the North in limbo. An uneasy status quo was locked in place by numerous cross border bodies but in the end Dublin never gave up.
It is simply unnatural to have an island divided and only animosity can maintain such a division. The moment that animosity falls, reunification becomes inevitable. Only, it has always been felt this will mean the North leaving the UK to join the South. It would be supremacist to ignore that reunification can also happen from the South to the North.
North and South Korea this month ended their 65-year-old war. In the end maintaining the division simply had a political shelf life. It is far too early to second-guess the long term outcome but it could well be Pyongyang has simply had enough to playing second fiddle to its neighbour.
The Republic of Ireland owes its strong economy to one thing and that is an advantageous tax regime, in essence skimming a fair bit of the profits made from turnover elsewhere in the Single Market. The UK alone loses a sizeable chunk (estimated by GlobalBritain.org at corporation tax revenues of £10bn).
But the UK and the EU have both finally cottoned on. The UK is lowering its corporation tax rates and the EU is applying ever more pressure on Ireland to raise its rates. Dublin is still heavily indebted following the 2008 crisis.
Ireland will soon find itself without big friends in Europe. To be fair it deserves nothing less. Instead of using the UK Irish bonds to force Brussels to compromise it has clearly chosen Kaiser over King and jumped straight into the arms of a power that is set on extorting huge sums from us and to erode our sovereignty from within with customs partnerships, preferential treatment for EU citizens and all manner of wheezes.
A No Deal is looking likely now and that will leave the Republic in a very sticky spot. In the years following Brexit Dublin will need to decide if a Europe without the UK is the best fit for it. If not the only real long term alternative is to come home.
The UK it left no longer exists and in many ways for the better; universal suffrage, a welfare state, a modern footloose economy where natural regional disadvantage no longer matters. Modern communications and energy fed to us by wire mean the republic has the great advantages of scenery, land, lack of migrant-based crime and violence our own big cities endure.
The best way for it to keep its outward looking, low tax, light touch economy and maintain links with the UK is for the border to go entirely.
The republic alone would have something like 50 seats in Westminster, equal to all other MPs. No Commission. No Qualified Majority Voting. No imposition of directives it cannot influence.
It is not so bad an offer for those of an open mind.