The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

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Bruges Group Blog

Spearheading the intellectual battle against the EU. And for new thinking in international affairs.

The Merchant of Belfast

The problem of Ireland is one that perplexes both the UK and the EU during Brexit negotiations. Should Northern Ireland have a hard border after Brexit or should it remain as it is - flexible?

In considering the Irish Border question I am reminded of The Merchant of Venice or in this case The Merchant of Belfast. The EU after all created Article 50 as Shylock created the loan in the Shakespearean play. The EU knew the arrangements of Northern Ireland and Eire.  So, it must therefore perplex the reader that the Eu would attempt to take its pound of flesh from the UK without causing any harm to the UK economy over the issue of Ireland. The EU is bound by its own rules to create a level playing field. That is it cannot knowingly put one country at a disadvantage to others. However, the UK is comprised of 4 countries and therein is reflected a due lack of consideration by Brussels.

Few in Brussels believed that the British would vote Leave. But they did and they have. This naturally means that the devolved administrations who also carry the Pound Sterling appear in the role of Bassanio. Northern Ireland has the Irish Pound, while Eire has the Euro. Yet, both continue to trade and operate on a daily basis for the betterment of one another.

North of the Border people may claim to be Irish and British.  As Britain leaves the EU this will not change. South of the Border people naturally claim to be Irish. What consideration has the EU given to this? Now that the troubles are largely historic after the Belfast Agreement, it reflects the position of Shylock in the Merchant of Venice for the EU to knowingly harm either party when it is bound by its own rules not to do so. Just as Shylock was unable to take his pound of flesh without causing loss of blood. If the UK must erect a hard border then that will have consequences in the EU member state of Eire that were historically ignored.It will also have economic implications in Northern Ireland.

So, like Shylock the EU has put itself in an unenviable position. It had neither the foresight to see that someday someone would trigger Article 50 nor the ability to foresee that in sticking to its own requirements it would knowingly or otherwise parody one of Shakespeare's classic plays.

Northern Ireland is part of the UK and should not be given a special status for the EU to recommend changes to fit in with its own policy. The UK does not need to make regional amendments to that fact. The UK was accepted by the EU as one body just as Bassanio was by Shylock. The UK is leaving the EU in 2019. Parliament and even the EU both agree that.  Naturally that will include Northern Ireland. If anything is wanting after due consideration of all the facts it is flexibility to reach an agreement that brings harm to neither the UK nor Eire. That problem though was not created by the UK, but by legislation in Brussels.


​Passporting: Concerns & Realities
Send Morrissey to break the impasse
 

Comments 4

Guest - Calvin Barnes on Sunday, 26 November 2017 19:56

Northern Ireland does not have the 'Irish pound', they have sterling like the rest of the UK

Northern Ireland does not have the 'Irish pound', they have sterling like the rest of the UK
James Coghlan on Sunday, 03 December 2017 18:58

To clarify like Scotland the Irish Pound note is different to the English Pound note.

To clarify like Scotland the Irish Pound note is different to the English Pound note.
Guest - Alan Kennedy on Sunday, 03 December 2017 08:30

If you are going to write about Ireland ,do your homework and make sure that you get basic facts correct. Northern Ireland does not have "the Irish pound". The Irish pound or Punt ceased as a currency when Eire joined the Euro. Northern Ireland is part of the UK and as such has always had the pound sterling.

If you are going to write about Ireland ,do your homework and make sure that you get basic facts correct. Northern Ireland does not have "the Irish pound". The Irish pound or Punt ceased as a currency when Eire joined the Euro. Northern Ireland is part of the UK and as such has always had the pound sterling.
James Coghlan on Sunday, 03 December 2017 18:59

Perhaps I should have been clearer. Like Scotland Ireland has its own set of notes. They do not ALL say BANK OF ENGLAND!

Perhaps I should have been clearer. Like Scotland Ireland has its own set of notes. They do not ALL say BANK OF ENGLAND!
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Sunday, 17 December 2017