The umbilical cord
Fond as I am of the Emerald Isle and happy as have been the many times I have holidayed there, gratitude to the Almighty has not previously topped my list of reactions to a dream about it.
This, however, was not just a dream but more a political revelation, perhaps along the lines of Prime Minister Macmillan’s South African speech predicting ‘Winds of change’. We might even call the Irish border ‘Chains of love’. For Ireland is the last remaining tie an anti-Brexiteer can hang on to. The border between Eire and Northern Ireland, incomprehensibly described as ‘soft’, is the only land link between the United Kingdom and Europe. A ‘hard’ border – meaning one that is hard to cross – would forever cut the umbilical cord that holds Britain and Continental Europe together.
In years to come historians will puzzle over an act of separation in a world growing inexorably closer. The hysteria of a President tugging to escape the fact will be put down to slick negotiating tactics on his part when the inevitable happens and we once more join hands. Hands across the sea, certainly, but more directly hands with our neighbours. Acts of geography are not mistakes.
As with the departure of a close friend we cannot bemoan forever the loss of our membership of the EU. Dawn will bring opportunities, no doubt. The word ‘challenge’ will feature in plucky little political speeches. We brace ourselves for what is to come next.
But please let us keep the umbilical cord between Eire and Northern Ireland.
Just for old times’ sake.
Blow the wind southerly.