Sometimes I wonder if people haven’t gone total screeching mad. I don’t mean eccentric, I don’t mean erratic, I mean bonkers. With a strong streak of masochism tossed in .
I find these gloomy thoughts elbowing into my head as I look away from the layer of snow on my garden and read a Guardian report which implies that there are a number of very influential, delusional people knocking about. Once again, need I say, we’re talking Brexit.
What does the Guardian report in essence say? That it’s time to pick up the can that was kicked down the road last December. You’ll remember back then we were promised a frictionless border. Now it’s time to put that promise into law.
Tricky. Very tricky. “UK negotiators have been warned that the EU draft withdrawal agreement will stipulate that Northern Ireland will in effect remain in the customs union and single market after Brexit to avoid a hard border.”
The big hole in that commendable aim is that Britain in the person of PM Theresa May has declared the UK will withdraw from the customs union and the single market after Brexit, But the prop that’s holding Theresa May’s government up, the tube that’s feeding her party oxygen, is the DUP. And the DUP is like Ruth in the Bible:
“Entreat me not to leave you, or to return from following after you; for where you go, I will go; and where you lodge, I will lodge; and your people shall be my people and your God my God.”
In other words, the DUP doesn’t care if its British masters are deeply embarrassed, they’re going to be trotting at their tail come hell or high water.
A better image might be of a driver of a loaded car. The driver has promised that, because some people asked her to, she is going to drive that car, fully loaded, and park it firmly on a busy railway line. The people on the train can’t believe the car occupants would be so stupid. “For God’s sake, tell them not to do it! The collision will damage the front of our good train and it’ll smash that car and everyone in it to unrecoverable bits!”
Meanwhile, just as the car is about to take off for its date with destiny, the DUP emerges from the bushes and throws itself on the car bonnet. (Yes, Virginia: a bit like Gerry Kelly and that police landrover, only worse – a lot worse). “Bring us with you!” the DUP shrieks. “We are a part of you – you MUST take us with you!”
Except that the DUP doesn’t speak for many of us here in this rancid-smelling little NEN. In fact, they don’t speak for the majority of us in the NEN. The majority of us want to stay well clear of suicide cars. But the DUP says: “It doesn’t matter. Whither they go, we go. And you too”.
It’s a simple syllogism:
Our pongy little NEN, says the DUP, will have a frictionless border.
But the DUP also says our NEN is an integral part of the UK: whither the UK goeth, our NEN goeth.
Therefore if the UK leaves the customs union and the single market, so too will our NEN, and a far-from-frictionless border will appear in Ireland.
A word in your shell-like ear, Arlene. And Sammy and Nigel and Ian. Please oh please stop battering on the windscreen of that car and begging them to let you in. Being hit by an express train will not be a pleasant experience. Or put more bluntly: anyone who gets into that car is bonkers.