Diary Day 321: leading Irish figures speak out. Brexiters get upset when border controls affect them. Gove is caught lying again. Car sales fall again. Business organisations get restive. Ken Clarke still resists. 

My #Remainer’s Diary Day 321: another thing about day 320. Irish ambassador Daniel Mulhall wrote in the London Evening Standard that he was “dismayed” by the Brexit vote and still fails to see its rationale; that it seems based on “misapprehensions about the EU’s nature and purpose” and disdain for the EU’s achievements. He points out the major challenges it poses for Ireland, both economically and in relation to the border, and calls for efforts to understand each other’s concerns. He hopes the UK will stay in the EU, or failing that, at least stay in the Customs Union. 

I am anguished by the harm the Brexiters have thoughtlessly inflicted on Ireland. The British-Irish relationship was bad for so long. Since the Good Friday Agreement it has been returning to health, until 23rd June 2016. I say thoughtlessly, but some Brexiters did this damage not thoughtlessly but recklessly, and they deserve contempt. 

Mr Mulhall was in London for four years and saw the whole referendum campaign up close. 

The £100m-per-seat DUP is in the completely wrong place on Brexit. With 56% of votes in Northern Ireland having been for Remain, how they got 10 seats – no, any seats – at Westminster in the General Election is a mystery to me. 

Writing in the Belfast Telegraph, James Anderson, Emeritus Professor of Political Geography at Queen’s University, Belfast, called a hard land border across Ireland a “disaster waiting to happen”. 

Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, on a visit to Northern Ireland, said in a speech at Queen’s University that it was up to advocates of a hard Brexit to come up with proposals as to how a hard border would work, and persuade citizens, students, academics, farmers and business people that it was in their interests. “They have already had 14 months to do so, which should have been ample time to come with detailed proposals. But if they can not, and I believe they can not, then we can start to talk meaningfully about solutions that might work for all of us.”

He said that European identity is “an enhancement, not a dilution of who we are. And in my opinion it’s a tragedy of the Brexit debate that it appears this common European identity is not valued by everyone on these islands.”

Absolutely right. 

The Irish passport office is inundated with applications from people of Irish ancestry in the UK and across the EU for Irish passports. Brexit has made it matter where our ancestors were from. One of my ancestors on my father’s side came from Ireland. He was an immigrant. So completely did it not matter that most of my family don’t know. I found it out from the register of births, marriages and deaths, merely from curiosity. 

There was general hilarity at the Daily Mail’s screaming headline “shambles at EU airports” (in capitals filling half the front page, as usual) complaining of British holidaymakers having to queue while their identities are checked against relevant databases.

What has happened is that the European Council, in response to the Paris and Brussels terrorist attacks, adopted new rules in March requiring Member States as from 7th April to carry out systematic checks against relevant databases on EU citizens who are crossing the external borders of the Schengen zone. The Council stated at the time: “Alongside the ongoing roll-out of the European Border and Coast Guard, the reinforcement of the Schengen Borders Code reflects the EU’s joint commitment to preserving the freedom of movement within the Schengen area and ensuring the security of EU citizens.” 

The Schengen zone includes 22 EU member states plus Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. The UK is not in the Schengen zone. Nor is Ireland. 

I feel sorry for the Irish citizens caught up in this, and for British Remainers, but not at all sorry for Brexiters. You got what you voted for. This is what taking back control actually means. 

The retorts of Remainers on social media were barbed. The satirical website Newsthump summed it all up with a spoof news item about fictitious Brexiter Simon Williams, who voted leave to “keep forriners out”, and now insists that tighter border controls should not apply when he is going on holiday. It wasn’t really funny at all. Too close to the bone. Good satire then. 

Michael Gove allegedly told a Danish audience that the UK “does not have the capacity to catch and process all the fish in British waters” and foreign boats will be able to catch “large amounts”.

The Lib Dems branded him a hypocrite. Brexit spokesman Tom Brake MP said his comments had exposed “yet another lie of the Leave campaign”.

Alan Sugar said Gove and Johnson should be in prison, or at least they should have a criminal record, for their lies during the referendum campaign. He added: “I promise you in five years’ time, three or four years’ time, people will be kicking themselves for leaving the European Union.” 

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said that just under 162,000 new cars were registered in July, down 9.3% on the same month last year. This is the fourth month running when new car sales have fallen. 

Mike Cherry, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, asked the government to delay the planned increase in the National Living Wage. He said: “It’s vital that the NLW is set at a level that the economy can afford, without job losses or harming job creation. Cost pressures on small businesses are building, and with most recent economic indicators underperforming, we are now facing the reality that the NLW target may need to be delayed beyond 2020.” 

The message to low-paid people who voted for Brexit in the belief that it would benefit them is: that worked, didn’t it! 

The Institute of Directors has published a paper called “Bridging the Brexit Gap: Options for transition”. Studiously it avoids criticising Brexit, without which none of this hand-wringing would be happening. You are a bit late, chaps. Where were you during the referendum campaign? Some of you have some serious thinking to do about having funded the Conservative Party, whose misjudgements and internal wrangles are to blame for this whole mess. You fed it, it grew into a dragon and now it is devastating the country. Are you going to deal with it? 

Ken Clarke MP, Father of the House of Commons, vowed to go on resisting Brexit. He told the FT of the “wave of anger and frustration” that had swept away the former consensus. He said: “I’ve just never seen anything like this present mad situation.” 

One thought on “Diary Day 321: leading Irish figures speak out. Brexiters get upset when border controls affect them. Gove is caught lying again. Car sales fall again. Business organisations get restive. Ken Clarke still resists. 

  1. As a remainer on grounds as emotional and romantic as economic and political, I found much reassurance in this article. In such a depressing state in which I perceive the UK, crumbs of comfort such as this are highly significant.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s