Fintan O’Toole: Rise of Germany the great unintended consequence of Brexit

The British are creating in reality the thing they feared in their paranoid fantasies

A group of  officials attending a meeting of the Congress of Vienna, in  Austria. Photograph:  De Agostini/Getty Images

A group of officials attending a meeting of the Congress of Vienna, in Austria. Photograph: De Agostini/Getty Images

As we take our seats yet again on the great Brexit merry-go-round, I have been thinking of the elegant, high-backed chairs in a dining room 15 miles south of Belfast. They are in Mount Stewart, the big house on Strangford Lough.

But you can see them in paintings of the Congress of Vienna of 1815 – the posteriors of the men who redrew the map of Europe after the defeat of Napoleon graced their seats. One of the men in the pictures is Robert Stewart, Lord Castlereagh, the British foreign secretary who was one of the dominant figures in deciding Europe’s future. Though he was born in Henry Street in Dublin, Mount Stewart was the family pile. So he took the chairs home from Vienna to Co Down as a memento.

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