It should be no surprise that UK has no intention of honouring ‘backstop’

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It should be no surprise that UK has no intention of honouring ‘backstop’


Bordering on madness: UK Brexit Minister Dominic Raab on Downing Street. Photo: DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images
Bordering on madness: UK Brexit Minister Dominic Raab on Downing Street. Photo: DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images

Why are we surprised at the failure of Britain to honour the ‘backstop’ for the Irish Border? In the words of Theodore Hoppen in his book ‘Governing Hibernia’, the Irish Border was described as ‘Partition or squaring (some) circles’.

The long-held view in British political circles – especially, but not exclusively, among Conservatives – is that Ireland being an island was not in itself proof that it was a nation. This, Hoppen states, was not accepted by nationalists. He goes on to say that this almost self-willed blindness was in common with O’Connell, Parnell, Redmond and de Valera.

However, as time went on this kind of view was more and more obliged to overlook the growing fissures that were developing between the Protestants in the North and the Catholics/nationalists in the south. Each side felt its view was so obvious that no explanations were necessary. The nationalists saw the Ulster Unionists as ‘suffering a species of false consciousness’ and thought that the ‘Irish Problem’ would be solved by Sinn Féin members taking their seats in Westminster; failing to realise that if after Griffith’s election victory in 1918, that had they taken their seats in Westminster we would be still part of the UK as much as Yorkshire is today.

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