Northern Ireland and staying in UK
A chara, – The latest policy paper by the eminent historian Paul Bew to the policy think tank Policy Exchange is an interesting development (Ronan McGreevy, “Leading historian says case must be made for Northern Ireland to stay in UK”, News, June 19th).
He argues that the incoming British prime minister must consistently make the case for the union between the Six Counties and Britain.
Prof Bew contends that the preservation of the union should be the “absolute priority” of the next British prime minister.
The entire “peace process” which culminated in the 1998 agreement was predicated on the notion, as set out in the 1993 Downing Street declaration, that the British government had “no selfish strategic or economic interest in Northern Ireland”.
Consequently, Paul Bew’s intervention is not insignificant.
His candour and honesty are to be welcomed as it helps to debunk the myth that the British government is in any way neutral on the question of the constitutional position of the Six Counties. – Is mise,
A chara, – You cite Lord Paul Bew, who teaches Irish history and politics at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB), as saying, “Theresa May’s successor must make the case for the union consistently”. He also highlights what he describes as the “intellectual weakness” of the case for a united Ireland”.
He has published his paper through Policy Exchange, a right-of-centre UK think tank which is frequently cited as influential on Tory Party policymaking, together with a foreword by Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs, and who proposed the Brady amendment to pursue alternative solutions to the backstop.
Ironically, he describes the nationalist case for a united Ireland as based on falsifiable or insupportable suppositions, when it is the DUP and British government which have singularly failed to show any practical alternative solution to the backstop working anywhere in the world.
He argues that “a new, modern case for the union must be developed, based on the principle of consent”, when that is precisely what is enshrined in the 1998 Belfast Agreement, then resisted by the DUP, and which Brexiteers and unionists are now so anxious to undermine.
Northern Ireland voted 56 per cent to 44 per cent to remain in the EU and it is the DUP, with 22 per cent support in the recent European Parliament elections, which is pursuing a Brexit agenda, in cahoots with a Conservative government, against the consent of the majority.
Perhaps the good professor needs to examine the “intellectual weaknesses” in his own position. – Yours, etc,