Brexit, the Irish border and human freedom – Marxist-Humanist Initiative
The Irish border has been at the centre of debates on whether, and how, the UK can leave the EU. These discussions, however, focus on the issue of trade – the movement of commodities – not on the movement of people. This lack of attention to the realities of the lives of living, breathing, human beings fits with a broader, global, trend towards more authoritarian restrictions on human freedom. I also draw attention to the human dimensions of restrictions on immigration and immigrants in Ireland, North and South. I argue that immigration and immigrants are going to become even more restricted in the context of Brexit. I also note the possibilities for resistance to restrictions, and a grassroots movement for human freedom, in existing pro-immigration and pro-immigrant campaigns.
From Dr Hillary J. Shaw
Visiting Fellow - Centre for Urban Research on Austerity
Department of Politics and Public Policy
De Montfort University
Very interesting article. The N/S Irish border is a total fudge, being the county boundaries that existed in 1922. As a glance at any such boundary anywhere today will tell you, these were never at all intended as international borders. Roads cross and recross them, major and minor highways - the main ’transport casualty’ of the fudged new border in 1922 was the northern Irish railway system
where as with roads, lines crossed and recrossed the border, and some lines that might have been viable in a united Ireland were closed. The Irish and UK govts attempted to ’fix’ the border issue in 1925 but as detailed at
this just resulted in a politically-embarrassing result that both govts hushed up. The issue of Irish sovereignty has always been tied up with wider issues, like the British bases in S ireland that Churchill was furious at the UK relinquishing, shortly before WW2. And long before that of course, with English ’plantations’ (i.e. colonisation), and then ’internal colonisation’ as Ireland was used as an internal agricultural resource, even when its own people were starving in the Famine.
Race-wise, the issue of race has always been conflated with religion, as ’Catholic’ and ’Protestant’ are of course not actually ’races’. There have also been considerable population exchanges, in past centuries, between Ireland, esp the North, and Scotland, where again a race/religion conflation between Catholic and Protestant is apparent, e.g. in Glasgow.
As for Brexit, this is perhaps the most prominent of many issues that the UK electorate were unaware of, either deliberately not informed or nobody had really thought these things through, before the simplistic in-out referendum of 2016. Simplistic, because such referenda usually include measures such as min turnout, and a requirement for e.g. a two thirds or at least 60% majority, not just a theoretical 50.0001% majority, for such a major change. OK, we hashed it. That’s why we need a new referendum with more choices, e.g. 1) Out, 2) In, 3) Norway, 4) Canada Plus, maybe 5) Out but deferred if no agreement.....in fact a ’proper’ referendum now would likely put the whole issue to bed because the electorate has changed. both demographically and in terms of what we now know about Brexit, and the result would likely be something like 55-45 to Remain. And the whole ghastly N/S border issue could be buried, along with the ’Troubles’ before it.