The brains trust that is the Brexit Party, newest political vehicle for Oberscheissenführer Nigel “Thirsty” Farage, has once more been showing off its expertise on those problems which have thus far bedevilled all those namby-pamby ordinary politicians not gifted with the arch-Brexiteers’ superior insights. And once more, those arch-Brexiteers have shown that they are gifted only with the ability to talk out of the backs of their necks.
Ben Habib, CEO of First Property Group, has gone to the Irish Border to show that he knows more than everyone else about it, telling his followers “I am on the border between NI and ROI. Travelling in a straight line, one enters and exits the RoI a number of times. There could never be a hard border here. The UK has declared it would never seek to impose one. The whole thing is a red herring”. This is total tosh.
Not only could there be a hard border there, there was a hard border there for many years, and until comparatively recently. One Tweeter with some local knowledge responded “I can only presume you mean there *shouldn't* be a hard border again, since I grew up with a customs checkpoint at the top of my garden. I lack the imagination to have made up the time the IRA bombed it, propelling a section of wall (with sink still attached) into our field”.
John Doyle of Dublin City University went into some detail, posting a border crossing complete with guard posts and watchtower, telling “In response to day-trippers to the Irish Border who say the back stop is not necessary, here is the main road from Dublin to the North West at Aughnocloy, during the conflict”. One hard border. And there was more.
He then proferred “or a road where queueing was not an option”, with a stock photo of a road blocked at the border. There were, for these kinds of hazards, “a few helpful warnings”, and Doyle shows a photo of a “Danger - Bridge Cratered” sign.
Having all those roads closed was not popular with locals: “There were of course protests … A group of locals called themselves Border Busters re-opening roads, usually to have them re-closed fairly quickly”. The hard border was, then, swiftly re-imposed.
As Doyle also tells, “one consequence of the security presence and the conflict was that the Irish Border also hosted one of europe's largest heliports”. And what about traffic delays? You guessed it, “the queues were often very long”.
If Ben Habib was still in any doubt that a hard border could be, and was, imposed, and that it could be a very bad thing indeed, the conclusion of Doyle’s thread should prove instructive: “and inevitably led to attacks. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar used this photo an an EU meeting to make the point”. A border post where the Dublin to Belfast rail line ran alongside. Both severely damaged in a terrorist attack.
There are good reasons why the Irish border issue should be taken seriously. There are also good reasons why the Brexit Party should cease trivialising the issue. Suggesting that this is some kind of, to use Habib’s happy phrase, “red herring” is a scandalous misrepresentation. It is a dereliction of duty of jaw-dropping proportions.
The Brexit Party needs to take issues seriously. Or leave it to those who will.
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