A chara, – Denis MacShane (“Get ready for the Brexiternity”, Opinion & Analysis, December 30th) makes much of his feelings of Englishness and Irish passport and accuses us of schadenfreude and short-sightedness in failing to realise that “as the offshore western islands of Europe [we] are all part of a common whole, and if England or Britain loses so too will Ireland”.
In many hours of discussions with both Leavers and Remainers in the UK and supporters and opponents of the EU elsewhere, I have failed to detect any great sense of schadenfreude or a denial of the UK’s right to leave the EU if it so wanted.
As far as I can see, most Leave supporters do not have a problem with an independent Scotland, or a united Ireland either.
English nationalism is no more meritorious or wrong-headed than Irish nationalism or any other nationalism. It is a political choice citizen of a nation are entitled to make, just as it is a valid political choice to create a European Union of nations which has been spectacularly successful at reducing the wars and conflicts that had been endemic in the centuries prior to the creation of the union.
It is clear to me that many in the UK never subscribed to the overarching peace-making ethos of the EU, and in that context, they are better off not being a member. What they shouldn’t expect, however, is that the EU will now still have much time for the concerns of a non-member. Whether the UK sinks, or swims, is now its own business.
Contrary to Mr MacShane’s assertion, we are now no longer “part of a common whole, [with] England or Britain”, and being a neighbouring island does not make it so. We are members of a European Union and our interests will be increasingly tied to that union.
We have managed to hold on to the Belfast Agreement, a common travel area with Britain, an open border with Northern Ireland, and customs-free trade in goods with the North.
But other than that, our relationship with post-Brexit Britain will be little different to that of Germany, France, or the Benelux countries, for example.
We didn’t choose Brexit, the UK did, and in so doing it chose to erect greater barriers with neighbouring states. – Yours, etc,