2007 - 2022

Brexitland: A Perfect Storm

It’s been a bad week for Boris, who is (booed in Edinburgh – booed in Cardiff) we should remember still enjoying his “honeymoon” period. God knows what his reception will be when he’s been in the job a few weeks.

The entire experiment is a severe miscalculation by the Conservatives, lured by their over-active imagination and spooked by the Double Bogeymen of Nigel Farage and Jeremy Corbyn. Johnson’s position is untenable and as his election campaign moves from the blue-rinse brigade of the Tory party to the, you know, actual electorate, his policy of either a) saying nothing at all and hiding, or b) talking gibberish sprinkled with Latin, won’t actually work.

Having been startled by the Brexit Party’s collection of ghouls and the Labour Party’s apparent momentum, they have panicked and elected a charlatan. But it won’t work and only a week-in everybody can see that it’s not working.

As Fintan O’Toole points out, there is no honeymoon, there is no ‘Boris Bounce’: “The usual arc of a premiership runs from illusion to disillusion, from great expectations to more or less bitter disappointments. Even Theresa May, let us remember, seemed, at this same moment in the cycle in 2016, sincere and serious and deserving of some goodwill. The disillusion took a little while to set in. Johnson cannot disillusion anyone, for no one is under any illusion that he is truthful or trustworthy, honourable or earnest. His fitness for the highest office is not about to be tested – it is the most conspicuous absence in modern British political history.”

So this week Johnson was lying in Edinburgh, lying in Cardiff and lying in Belfast.

He and his party are beleaguered by forces they have created but can’t comprehend:

How he can recreate a Withdrawal Agreement that neither the Irish nor the rest of the European countries involved will renegotiate? (he can’t).

How a politics of absolute sovereignty (No Deal) accommodates the supposed shared sovereignty of the UK? (it can’t).

How can he win a general election without splitting the UK further? (he can’t).

Boris Johnson and his gang have now created a War on Three Fronts. It’s the perfect storm.

As Micheál Martin, Fianna Fail’s Leader of the Opposition in Ireland said yesterday:

To be absolutely clear; the refusal by PM Boris Johnson to engage with European leaders and our Taoiseach without pre conditions on the issue of Brexit is unacceptable and is not within the realms of normal diplomatic or political behaviour.

From a very different political background Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou Macdonald said on Sky News that the issue of “consent” critical in Northern Ireland on #Brexit given the province voted Remain & that a “Unity poll” to achieve a sovereign, united Ireland is now inevitable.

The threat of direct rule in Northern Ireland is a travesty and and a new dimension to the Tories constitutional crisis.

In a forthright speech in Belfast here she declares simply that “Irish Unity is the solution to Tory Brexit”.


Ireland, north and south have less to keep them apart as cultural and social norms around gender, sexuality and human rights become normalised and updated.

The Irish border remains as intractable a problem for Johnson as it was for May. No amount of wishful thinking or ‘optimism’ changes this.

Macdonald has stated:

“If Boris Johnson is indeed willing to see a hard border reimposed on our island, then he must also provide for a unity referendum as laid out in the Good Friday Agreement.

“That is the route back to the EU for the people in the North – unionist nationalist and neither – who voted against Brexit in the first place.”

The polling, and trajectory in Wales should be sobering reading for any of Johnson’s advisers.


The mood music has changed. When once we could be asked to pretend that Britain is a gateway to Europe and a connector to the world, it increasingly looks like it is the opposite.

In Wales Adam Price, the leader of resurgent Plaid Cymru states: “We’re not inward looking nationalists. We are Welsh internationalists. We want to be part of the world. Independence is the best contribution Wales can make…”.

All of a sudden the Better Together argument that self-determination was somehow about parochialism and separatism is turned on its head.

With the flag-waving booze-cruise Britannia in the headlines it’s emblematic of the state of the (English) nation, and its less and less of an attractive prospect for ordinary people in Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Brexit has exposed the folly of partition in Ireland, galvanised the case for Welsh independence and offered a new dimension to Scotland’s case.

Partition has failed in Ireland, Union has failed in Scotland.

If, as is being widely reported, the Johnson government is preparing for a general election before Brexit failure, he will face these constitutional demons as a battle on three fronts and its more than likely his political project will be face mass rejection.

Comments (19)

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  1. Jean Martin says:

    Well said. It is so heartening to see the Welsh coming to their senses at last. Irish, Scots and now the Welch, in this case Better Together is thee best option!

    1. Charles L. Gallagher says:

      Aye, Jean and some of them are Labour Cooncils!!!

  2. Jo says:

    I am seriously considering banning myself from watching TV news and reading newspapers. (You’re still safe Bella!) It’s so bad for the blood pressure.

    I’ve just watched the joint press conference with Dodds and Foster who were looking tickled pink that the PM didn’t just do talks with them, he came for dinner last night.

    Arlene was right in there….stressing how “Dublin” had “refused” the PM’s calls! She never seems comfortable naming Leo Varadkar. It’s as if the sheer hatred that flows through her veins won’t allow her to utter his name. Spitting out the word “Dublin” is as far as she’ll go! Nigel isn’t much better.

    I can’t say I’m that mad about Sinn Fein either. Mary-Lou MacDonald will have her own agenda. Stormont remains an idle structure, a helpless bystander. All this time, I’ve wondered, “Why are the folk of NI not going nuts about this? Why are these folk still getting most of their wages?” Will direct rule suit the DUP? Will it also suit Sinn Fein?

    All the time I’m seeing articles in newspapers claiming the reunification if Ireland is close. These folk write as if this would be a seamless process. How stupid are they? Do they know nothing that they think it could possibly be that simple, that peaceful?

    And that’s just one small part of the whole Brex**** Show while the clock ticks ever closer to midnight.

    It’s before you even think about that absolute clown Raab telling all ok businesses to just focus on doing business with countries outside the EU!!!

    It’s before you consider that as Corbyn tries to make Labour ready for an election… Alastair Campbell is telling newspapers and every newsroom that will have him that a Labour government isn’t the answer. (Oh, and he also assures everyone that his motives are pure, that he “always spoke truth to power” and this isn’t part of any ongoing plot against Corbyn.)

    In Scotland the FM warns of the perils of No Deal. The new PM tells us he can secure a deal and the new Scottish Secretary claims No Deal will be fine.

    I’m just worried how much longer my telly will survive without ending up in the middle of the garden!

    1. Jo says:

      *UK businesses

    2. Hazel says:

      Jo, I’m ahead of you. Apart from an occasional check-in to the world news with France 24 I stopped watching. I no longer take even the National – too much Brexit and I know how I’m going to vote re EU and Scots Indy so don’t need convincing otherwise. Have just closed Twitter, after leaving FB last year. My mind is clearing and I now have time for reading 🙂
      I do catch most of the Alex Salmond Shows and was fairly taken with Mary Lou MacDonald ( Feb last year? ). Although I won’t be having to decide to vote for her, or not so maybe am more relaxed.
      Would get rid of my telly if there weren’t programmes like the Repair Shop, Gardeners World and quite a lot of BBC Alba. Meanwhile I select carefully and lie down in darkened room when ever I feel the need.

    3. Papko says:

      You’re better off not watching the telly Jo.
      We have not had one in the house for 20 years.
      (Do use u tube a lot , but not for news)

      I use Bella as it’s a gauge of a line of thought.
      Though it can be a tad restrictive as everything must be seen through the independence prism.

      Personally I don’t think brexit will dissolve the union.
      If it is a disaster as everyone claims like a banking crash on stilts if you like.
      Well people will huddle together then and are least likely to change.
      If you look at the great upheavals in modern history , there was extreme conditions involving war and food shortages.
      It was the bloodbath of WW1 that tipped Ireland.

      I don’t see anything like that happening this time .
      Because I don’t see much changing.
      The UK may well leave. A new relationship with the eu will form instantly and it won’t be much different to what we have now.

      Though the politicians and the journalists will have earned their crust.

    4. Iain says:

      If you lay down some old linoleum or such like in front of said telly, and place a good sized fireguard on it; hours of tremendous heart-lifting, stress busting, fun can be had hurling freshly guzzled cans and bottles in the direction of the misinformation mouthpiece. Most therapeutic.

      1. Jo says:


        Ahhhh….but I’d frighten the life oot the dug!

  3. Douglas says:

    Hi Jo

    I read on Open Culture today that Brian Enro / ambience music does wonders for one’s mental well-being. I’d say it’s worth a try. Here is the article:


    1. Jo says:

      Thanks Douglas.

  4. florian albert says:

    ‘Partition has failed in Ireland’

    As somebody who would like to see a united Ireland, I might be expected to agree. However, it has to be said that, over a period of almost a century, attempts to end partition have all ended in bloody failure.
    At the heart of the Good Friday Agreement is Sinn Fein – de facto – accepting partition and agreeing to participate in a (new, improved) Stormont.
    Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness did what de Valera had done in 1932; accept that they had failed to end the division of Ireland.

    ‘Union has failed in Scotland.’

    The voters in 2014 did not agree. Nationalists are now betting the farm, not on their own proposals for an Independent Scotland, but on Scottish antipathy to an
    individual English politician; one who might be gone in months.

    1. Kenny Smith says:

      They never accepted partition, what a ridiculous thing to say. How can you say you support a united Ireland then come away with utter mince as that. I’m no fan of Gerry Adams or the rest but they knew the violence had to end. The border poll option tells me they thought there was a chance in the future a vote could be an option. My own opinion is that if the UK as we know it fell apart then I think NI would either stay attached to England but in a kind of Isle of Man, Channel Islands way rather than being absolved into the Republic. It is possible it could join the Republic and be a devolved territory but I can’t see it. That’s only my opinion. As for Scottish nationalists pinning their hopes on Johnson that’s bollocks as well. The idea of an independent Scotland is bigger than that it’s just this whole fiasco is further proof as to why we need out. The voters in 2014 were sold a pup and even if some won’t admit it deep down they know it

      1. florian albert says:

        Sinn Fein accepted partition as part of the GFA because it guarantees that there can be no change in the status of Northern Ireland except with the agreement of the voters in the Six Counties.
        This gives them the continuing veto which they have had since 1922.
        Until the GFA, Sinn Fein had always insisted that Ireland was a single country and that its future had to be decided by the people of Ireland; certainly not by a part of one province, Ulster.

    2. As Mary Lou Macdonald says in her speech she wants Stormont to work. These things are not in opposition.

      The voters in 2014 did not agree. That’s true. They voted for dependence believing Britain to be a stable outward-looking multicultural entity that was a partnership of nations. Now we know that none of that is true.

    3. Alasdair Macdonald says:

      Florian Albert,

      Given your previous comments, particularly on independence for Scotland, with which I disagree, but recognise that you have been consistent in your approach, I am interested to read that you ‘would like to see a united Ireland’.

      Can you expand on that statement?

      1. florian albert says:

        Sorry for the delay in replying.

        Ireland has historically been viewed as one country, one entity. Unhappily it was partitioned about a century ago. I would like to see it re-unified. Realistically, I doubt it will happen. Sometimes it is better to settle for less than your ideal outcome.
        Re-unification would destabilize the Republic in a way that voters there will not accept.
        Germany looks like a parallel but is not. When Germany was reunified both countries saw themselves, unequivocally, as German. About a million people in the Six Counties do not see themselves as Irish. It would be very difficult – not impossible – for the Republic to absorb the Six Counties at present. Put crudely, most people in the Republic do not want the pay the price in money and hassle for unification.

  5. squigglypen says:

    Whit’s the matter wi’ ye..stiffen yer backbone..get a cuppa …an oatcake ..feet up an’ watch Jolly Japes referee Arlene an’ Mary Lou…..call it ‘No love Island.’
    Quality viewing….oh an’ doant take pics or pat fowks dug as ye pay their bills…..just go on sharpening yer sgian dubh an’ wait…..

  6. Richard Easson says:

    Para 3.
    Do you mean Labour Party’s lack of momentum?

    1. Yes it was a bit of a pun

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