The continuing drip feed from the Brexit negotiations on the future of the border between the two parts of our country, and the inability to do anything about it, illustrate the total lack of sovereignty we have as members of the imperial club.
We may be members, yet we are outside the talks process. We can lobby on matters affecting us, and look for support from other states; that’s about as much input as is available to us.
Under EU rules, we and Britain are forbidden to have parallel discussions on the alternatives that might be possible between the two parts of the country. We will not be allowed to do it after Brexit either, as EU rules forbid all members to come to bilateral arrangements on trade with other countries.
So whatever is decided in Brussels regarding the border, the only say we will have on the outcome will be when we are allowed to vote on it, which will reflect our population within the EU—about 2 per cent.
So make no mistake about it: we have practically no say in the outcome.
Britain has indicated that it wants to have trade agreements with several other countries after the Brexit negotiations are completed—because even though they are leaving they are bound by EU rules until they actually reach agreement on the departure, and they are not allowed to start those negotiations yet.
These agreements will be made in the interests of British Big Business. They will do deals that will allow them to import goods at prices that suit the capitalist class, and export goods elsewhere with a similar deal. This will be in the interests of British business.
If there were a “soft border” between the 6 and 26 counties it would expose the interests of EU capital to all sorts of smuggling and tax evasion, by letting goods and services in and out through the many back doors that would exist, from Omeath to Pettigo. It is the equivalent of looking for a soft border between Russia and the EU: not very likely, unless Britain were to remain in a customs union, which is not going to happen—and, as pointed out here before, if it did they would be liable to all the conditions of CETA, TISA, TTIP and all the other trade agreements that are at various stages of discussion between the EU and others.
So when Britain does leave, the myth of the EU being such a wonderful social and democratic arrangement will be plain for all to see. It is quite possible that, in order to protect EU interests, we may end up with a very hard border.
As for Irish concerns, they will be taken into as much consideration as they were when Brussels forced this country to pay for 42 per cent of European banking debt, despite having only 2 per cent of the population. Within the EU, sovereignty does not exist for Ireland; and that will become very clear over the coming months.
Once Brexit happens, it is quite possible that Britain and the EU will enter into a trade agreement. If so it could lead to a soft border. It will depend on what best suits the owners of British capital. They may prefer to look to China, Russia or India for new markets and resources to do free-trade deals with; that would be the prerogative of British imperialism, now free to follow a path independent of the EU.
Would the hegemony of US imperialism allow this to happen? Britain will have to comply with American interests or suffer the consequences, despite the “special relationship” that exists between them. This is the nature of imperialism: you are either with us or against us.
At least the North will be shaking off the shackles of EU imperialism. One down, two to go: British and American next!
The CPI has consistently called for Ireland to leave the EU. This is the anti-imperial route for both parts of our country. Break the connection with imperialism: out of the EU, an end to partition, united and free to build the socialist republic for all of our people.