Brexit(eer) Myths about Ireland

I wrote this 18m ago, and it is both depressing and amusing to see some of these tropes being trotted out still. .So, to add to the debate, lets revisit

Its instructive,  and amusing in a “poke ’em with a stick” manner to see the brexiteers view of Ireland. Below are some of the favourite myths they propagate, or perhaps even believe, about Ireland.. Lets explore, and explode 

The EU made Ireland vote again and again until we “got it right”

Hmm. No. Here’s what happened on the Lisbon treaty. We didn’t like the first version. That was in mid-2008. There was a complex stew of reasons, not least that people in Ireland are very used to referenda, and often use them as a way to give the government de jure a good kick. A major part of it was the poor campaign run by the yes side, run by the luckless Brian Cowan. As a mature, sane nation which wanted to keep on the good side of the EU we …renegotiated. We got lots of concession which every other nation agreed to. And we then had a second look and agreed, in 2009. Ireland has loads of referenda. Sometimes we vote yes, then years later no, and nobody blinks an eye. Why? Well, polities evolve.

The UK bailed out Ireland

Err. No. Or, yes but only a tiny bit. A total of 68b was put in place from the EU, the IMF etc. Of that, 3.8b was from the UK. So 5%. Why would they do that? Well, a large and troubled RBS subsidiary, Ulster Bank, was operating in Ireland. Meanwhile, Ireland is the 5th largest destination of UK exports (more than China and India together) (Source: so it makes a tiny bit of sense to keep the economy on track. This is also why Denmark gave a bilateral – Danske subsidiaries in Ireland. So, thanks, lads, appreciate it but look here…

The UK is Irelands biggest trading partner

That’s not the case. In 2016 we exported twice as much to the USA as we did to the UK and as much to Belgium as to the UK. If we look at exports and imports of trade and services we see the below. So the UK is a large and important trading partner, but not the bee all and end all.

Services Export (€b)Services Import(€b)Trade Exports(€b)Trade Imports(€b)
UK %19%8%134%14%
EU as % UK179%345%294%140%

There’s no need for a border coz the CTA

The Common Travel area is not a freedom of movement and work agreement. Nor is it a Free Trade Area. Still less is it the Customs Union. See here for a detailed discussion on that:

Secretly, Ireland hates the EU

It’s a bloody good secret. See here

Anyhow we are only in it for the eu handouts

GNI sources

Well, where are they then? Coz this suggest they are a vanishingly small part of the national economic cake 

Ireland will be treated badly as the only EU English speaking state

No, we wont. Or rather, why would we be? True, the UK having spat the dummy, we and the EU lose what used to be a pragmatic open business-friendly state. But clearly that was a facade. Anyhow, the language of world business is English, and will be for a while (But, learning some chinese would be a good investment)

Ireland owes England for <insert here>

Its hard to know where to start with this. Im as Republican as a radish but looking over 800y of meddling, outright colonial extraction, invasion, subjugation and benign to malign neglect, really? WE owe YOU? Get up the yard.

The EU is imposing a border, not us

So, let me get this right…the central message of Brexit was for Britain to “take control of its borders”. But, the only land border you have with anyone, you don’t want to take control of it? And somehow being outside a customs union and having this uncontrolled border you wanted to control facing into the customs union, the smugglers will use honesty boxes? Mmkaaay

There was never a hard border in Ireland

Now, this is just taking the urine. What then were all those police, army and customs officers doing on both sides, up to 1992, birdwatching?


Anyhow the Good Friday Agreement, we can just amend it. 

No, not really. It took a wee bit of time the last time to get agreement. And its a binding international treaty. Of course, the UK could just abrogate it in whole or part. Im sure that that would in no way colour the views of its trustworthiness when making other agreements, such as free trade ones, with third parties.

Anyhow, sure isnt Ireland just a part of the UK, really? 

Well, leaving aside the last 100y political separation, the sea, the language, lets look at the Cultural Map of the World shall we?  (Source )


The Border isn REALLY that important, nobody uses it

2 thoughts on “Brexit(eer) Myths about Ireland

  1. Pingback: a-Fisking we shall go : Kate Hoey in Brexit Central edition | Brian M. Lucey

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