As the descendant of Scottish Presbyterian immigrants who fled to Ireland in the Killing Times, I often holiday in Galloway and the Borders, enjoying the culture, the language, the people, and the rich harvest of Solway cuisine.
This time however, Brexit was on the agenda. I spoke to several English Labour types, at the coal face of insecure employment, variable shift patterns, and temporary /zero hour contracts. A generation ago they were working class aristocracy, now they are the working poor. They have seen their collective bargaining beaten down by migrant workers. They have nothing to lose by leaving the EU. A drop in shareholder profits means bugger all to those whose only withdrawal is from a foodbank.
But in Stranraer, I gleaned an a snippet of what is an official whisper (Stephen O’Brien Sunday Times 19.06.16, p.22) Already there is speculation in Scottish Parliament that in event of a UK exit, the British – rather than seek to impose 499Km of hard border with the Republic of Ireland, with a target rich environment of checkpoints, customs posts and accompanying army of security guards – will by a simple Westminster vote, move such controls to the port of Cairnryan and all other points of entry to Great Britain.
This would mean a de facto retreat of the border to the Irish Sea, and all citizens of the north (British or Irish) would have to go through passport control on ‘entering’ [sic] the United Kingdom. Likewise all goods and produce originating in N Ireland would require an H M R & C certificate of origin to avoid UK customs duty. The north-south structures agreed in the GFA already provide the capacity to accommodate this solution, and the EU would be sympathetic to the peace process. Thus Brexit would de facto unite Ireland as a special economic/free travel area with the six-counties outside GB control or sanction.
One can already hear the howls of indignation from the DUP as they are asked for passports to enter Great Britain. Physiologically it is difficult to predict what this very physical sense of isolation from ‘the main land’ [sic] would do to the Unionist mindset. Never mind the rebooting of Scottish nationalist calls for another referendum.
So Arlene, be very careful what you wish and vote for.