Fintan O’Toole: Ireland’s difficulty becomes England’s opportunity

Britain’s new Brexit strategy is a cynical reversal of the Irish adage. But it won’t work

Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern signing the Belfast Agreement in 1998. Photograph: Dan Chung/Reuters

Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern signing the Belfast Agreement in 1998. Photograph: Dan Chung/Reuters

According to the well-known model created by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, the first three stages of grief are denial, anger and bargaining. In their approach to Northern Ireland and the Irish Border, the Brexiteers have broadly followed this pattern.

First, clothing their naked indifference in wilful ignorance, they denied that the problem existed at all. Next, they resorted to anger at the bloody Irish, the perpetual disturbers of the British peace without whom Brexit would have been, as promised, the easiest deal in the history of the world. And now we are at the bargaining stage.

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