In the short term, the DUP has been caught out by “Brexit”. The UK leaving the EU would cost Northern Ireland tens of millions of pounds over and above the Barnett formula – money which, therefore, will simply not be replaced. The DUP campaigned for a course of action which will come at a direct and particular cost to the people it purports to serve (in addition to making break-up of the Union likelier). Total lunacy does not begin to describe it.
Nevertheless, Nationalists have been caught out too. The sudden reality of having to work out, in reality, a scheme for withdrawal from the EU has caught Brexiteers without a plan. It was all good in theory, but Johnson, Hannan, Farage et al have absolutely no plan and no idea in practice.
And so it is with a “United Ireland”. Again, the idea was that a border polls would deliver a theoretical majority for the concept of Irish unity, but it is now obvious that Irish Nationalists have no plan either. Messrs Adams, Eastwood, Kenny et al are as clueless about delivering a “United Ireland” in actuality as Messrs Johnson, Hannan and Farage are about leaving the EU. There are even the ridiculous notions both express – notions about the EU allowing the UK inclusion within the Single Market without also insisting on free movement of labour are as daft as notions about British subvention continuing in the event of Irish unity.
Put simply, there is no plan for Irish unity. And the lesson of June’s referendum is that pursuing a theoretical option without a practical plan results inevitably in total chaos.
So Nationalists too have been caught out. They want a “United Ireland” but have shown not the slightest inkling to do the hard work and plan for one.
We are already paying the price for “identity politics” after Britain’s ridiculous “Independence Day” last month left us all 8%+ worse off. It is time to consign it to history in Ireland. Those who want constitutional change have never had a better chance – but they had better come up with a plan right now.