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It's all very well having red lines which seek to establish the supremacy of British Law and Courts over the EU, establish the right to negotiate your own trade deals or implement immigration controls incompatible with EU law. These things are arguable policy objectives which may or may not have real economic and social consequences over time, but they are hardly matters of life and death or of the stability of the entire political system. Re-imposing a hard border undermines the peaceful resolution of a civil war North and south, and so is hardly a matter any Irish government is going to accept as negotiable.

In reality, Leo Varadker, and the minority Fine Gael government he leads is the least nationalistic major party and government possible in Ireland. Fine Gael is descended from the faction which supported the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1922 and accepted the partition of Ireland and the creation of the border as a price they had no option but to pay as the cost of obtaining freedom for the south from the British Empire.

There has always been a lingering sense that the N. Ireland nationalist community were betrayed as the price for independence for the south. Leo Varadker can't afford to be seen as betraying them all over again, failing in his duty to act as joint guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement, and indeed failing to give expression and support to the fact that a majority in N. Ireland voted against Brexit and voted to remain citizens of the EU.

Keeping the border open is therefore an existential issue for the government. Why should the DUP, which received only 28% of the vote in the last Assembly elections be allowed to hold the rest of the country to ransom? Supporting Brexit may have been a legitimate political choice before the referendum. Supporting it after it was decisively rejected by a majority in N. Ireland is a wanton act of political sectarianism calculated to undermine all the improvements in cross-community relations which have occurred since the GFA was ratified by referenda by majorities of 71% in the North and 94% in the south 1998.

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jan 20th, 2019 at 11:10:35 AM EST
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