I watched the Channel 4 news when Stanley Johnson claimed “There’s never been a hard border in Ireland” and that “There are plenty of countries in the EU where one country is in the EU and another country is not in the EU, and they don’t shoot each other. So why we can think that Ireland’s going to be such a disaster, I don’t know”. I was disappointed to see this, but not at all surprised. Within the Tory party there is a monumental lack of understanding towards the Northern Irish issue. Karen Bradley, the Secretary of State for NI admitted she was profoundly ignorant towards the politics of the North, and that she was “slightly scared of the place” before taking office. This begs the question why was she appointed to that ministerial post in the first place and perhaps more importantly, how can we trust this self-proclaimed ignorant MP to deliver a Brexit that is in the best interests of Northern Irish citizens?
The answer is that we can’t. And we need to prepare for a hard border once again. The Good Friday Agreement would be finished and that in itself is terrifying. If a Johnson-esque Brexit was implemented, it would mean Northern Ireland would become more divided as economic border checks would become part of their daily lives. What Jacob Rees-Mogg would like is to have people checked at the Irish border, carrying out inspections “just like during the Troubles”. What these senior Tories fail to grasp is that people who consider themselves Irish in the North don’t like having bags or cases rummaged through in order to pass into what they consider the same country. There can be no doubt, that if this hard border is implemented, the dissident Republicans that were banished with the Good Friday Agreement will emerge from the gutter once again, polarising a nation that has come so far.
The economic effects it will have will also be disastrous. It was no secret that NI’s economy was going to take a huge hit post Brexit, something Teresa Villiers failed to recognise when she was banging the Brexiteer drum, but the impacts a hard border will have on business owners will be devastating. The Agri-Food sector, which is the most integrated industry on the isle of Ireland will be damaged due to a common external tariff. The economy is heavily integrated with Ireland’s, the EU’s and the UK too. A hard border will only harm it.
It will also give way to an eventual Border Poll. When that day comes, moderate Nationalists who were once perfectly happy accepting that they were in the UK whilst maintaining their own Irish identity will choose to be part of the EU, not the UK. Moderate Unionists will begin to waver on their loyalties and could vote accordingly. In any case, the vote will be close and could easily result in the breaking up of the UK.