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Why we should stop worrying and learn to love Brexit
So why should Ireland embrace Brexit? Here's why:

First, even the most ardent Anglophiles in the EU have been shaken by the nature, tone and implementation of Britain's negotiating stance since the referendum of 2016. From the self-imposed "red lines" of the prime minister, Theresa May, to the lack of understanding regarding the complexity of EU decision-making, the Brexit process has ruthlessly exposed the conceit and bloated self-importance at the heart of the Tory political class. While this has always been obvious to the majority of the Irish population (even in the post-Good Friday agreement, queen visiting, rugby in Croke Park landscape) for Brussels-based decision-makers this has been an eye-opening experience. Nobody now asks why Ireland needs a backstop. It's obvious to all. Dealing with the Brits is like being in a coalition government: it never ends well for the junior partner.

Second, with the British no longer part of the EU, Ireland can (for the first time since joining in 1973) set out a clear vision for the future of Europe. Up to now, Ireland's position on the further development of the EU has largely been defensive and negative. It usually involved hiding behind British positions on difficult issues. "No" to tax harmonisation; "no" to a digital tax and a shocking disengagement with combatting climate change. Yet, a renewed focus on the key drivers of Irish wealth - global trade and the European single market - could provide Ireland with a clear path towards a more positive and constructive engagement with their continental partners. And here, it will be possible for Ireland to act as a facilitator in bringing together other like-minded members such as the Netherlands, the Scandinavians and the Baltics (as is already occurring informally through the so-called "New Hanseatic League"). This mechanism can - if backed by diplomatic and political resources - act as a valuable counterpoint to the much-vaunted Franco-German core of European integration.

Thirdly, Irish public policy since independence in 1921 has been defined by the unwavering commitment to lessen economic dependence upon Britain. A fact that has been casually forgotten over the past decade of Anglo-Irish detente. Notwithstanding the often-ignorant rhetoric of Irish republicanism, it was not until the 1990s that the economic landscape emerged that allowed Ireland diversify its trading base. Brexit will further allow Ireland - as a committed and active member of the EU - to emerge as a key global location for inward investment irrespective of corporate tax levels (a point continually misunderstood in Brussels). Exports to Britain will always remain important for elements of the Irish economy (most notably agriculture and associated food and drink industries) but Brexit offers a real opportunity to transform Ireland into a global business hub within the EU. Ironically, it also facilitates the long held dream of modern Ireland's founders to limit economic exposure to Britain.

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Feb 20th, 2019 at 04:23:53 PM EST

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