“Project Fear”. This reductionist argument has become the unionist response to the growing debate on Irish unity. Drawing on English Brexiteer propaganda it is astonishing that political unionism believe that this is how to engage with Brexit. In the context of the majority in their artificial statelet wanting to remain the attitude is so nuts, I find it hard to believe it is actually being used.
Every single economic expert states the obvious truth that “We are going to be worse off economically”. This is met with a sliding scale of response from: “they need us more than we need them”, “we can eat seaweed”, “rationing during World War Two was good for your health”.
This part of Ireland will be worse off in every single economic respect in six weeks’ time. That is a fact that is met with a DUP smile aimed at reassurance and “as long as there is no border down the Irish Sea”. Lord Cardigan could not have mustered it on his best day before the Lightening Brigade headed off to a loud “Huzzah”.
But that said we were given a warning to this home grown nihilism. That harbinger of all good news, Nelson McCausland, did declare to us that it did not matter what the implications were of Brexit he just wanted out. And how we laughed. In those halcyon days post the Fresh Start Agreement, when we were still thought everyone treated the Good Friday Agreement as untouchable, we saw Nelson as just a little emotional that night. Some of us even thought that deep down the sensible heads in the DUP were pro-EU and pro-devolution. Turns out Nelson was serious. And his party was serious. Well I suspect they became Brexiteer serious after they found themselves in the position of a ten seat powertrip in Westminster and became a Brexit morphe of Farage, Johnson, Rees Mogg and that king from Game of Thrones who burned his daughter to death in pursuit of more power.
There is one small element of truth in the accusations that this is pointless scaremongering. There is a huge population which is not one bit scared and who think it is great. The representatives of the British cabinet who are mentioning the potential for a border poll on our island assume people will see it as a negative. They are not in the living rooms or on the pitch sidelines in Belfast and Clonoe where people are reading these statements out with big wide smiles and start singing the theme to the Christmas Coke ad. The same people don’t want Brexit and want the Good Friday Agreement to work. Irony doesn’t begin to describe what is happening.
In the land Westminster forgot, the political landscape has utterly transformed in two and half years. The internal solution looks like it has had its day, unless something miraculous happens. The population that agreed to the compromise of the principle of consent in the Good Friday Agreement, and who worked to persuade their own community that a devolved government could work for Irish citizens too, finds itself watching those who were implacably opposed to anything except a six-county based solution burning that down and creating the environment where an all island future, becomes an increasingly likely outcome. All while shouting “project fear”.
You couldn’t make it up.