Ireland loves exactly what Britain hates about Europe
London and Dublin’s mental geographies have embarked on different trajectories
Although Ireland will be deeply affected by Brexit, we have to an extraordinary extent been unaffected by the Brexit debate. The main arguments and fears of the Brexiteers are essentially alien to us. We don’t share their wish to return to an imagined past. Unlike the UK today, we are confident about our ability to promote our interests in the modern interdependent world. Xenophobia in Ireland is not on anything like the scale we have recently witnessed in the UK. Nor do we share the insularity of the Brexiteers. Quite remarkably, today it is the UK rather than Ireland which, in the words of the song, thanks God it’s surrounded by water.
In Ireland and Britain, we increasingly perceive reality in quite different ways. The reasons a majority in the UK voted to leave the EU are, paradoxically, the very same reasons that an overwhelming majority in Ireland want to stay. This is true of each of the six main arguments of the Brexiteers.