This morning’s Irish Times correctly chastises British Prime Minister David Cameron for his call to ban the free movement of people across the European Union. The newspaper says that Cameron’s call is ‘a dangerous game of brinkmanship … to placate this backbenchers and out-sceptic UKIP’.
The Time’s editorial adds, “Der Spiegelreports that the (German) chancellor believes Mr Cameron is taking the UK to “the point of no return” with demands to curb immigration from fellow member states. Such demands, which go well beyond “welfare tourism” reforms on which a deal might be possible, threaten to undermine the single market…”
Newry border controls
But it’s the newspapers last line of comment that is the most important. If Cameron’s proposals were to see the light of day – something that would most likely mean a British exit from the EU – then we could see the restoration of border controls at Newry (and other UK entry points) on both people and trade. If this were to happen we at ISME believe that this would be a massive disaster for the Republic.
The UK remains our largest trading partner. Anything that puts that trade in jeopardy, or makes trading between the two nations any more difficult, is a very, very serious issue. We understand the public’s concerns about indirect taxes, such as the water charges but those concerns could be placed in the halfpenny place if the UK voted to exit the EU.
No chance of a special deal for Ireland
In trying to dampen public anxiety no doubt our own politicians would declare that ‘special deals’ could be done etc. But we’d better cop-on. If Britain exits (the Brexit as it is lamely called) then there is no way that the rest of the EU would tolerate special deals. To stop others from leaving the union, some sanctions would have to be imposed on Britain (it couldn’t be seen to be better off outside the union, as this would defeat the whole point of staying a member of what is a very expensive and exclusive club) and there’s no way we would be allowed any special ‘understanding’. Not for the first time the Germans would tell us how to behave.
A Sinn Féin conundrum?
The UK’s internal politics will take their own course. We can only watch as interested observers. But for those who have any influence on the UK’s politics we would ask them to do their damndest to avoid such an outcome. Sinn Féin MPs traditionally don’t take their seats at Westminster. But, if it came to a Common’s vote on the issue, it could be an interesting conundrum for them, if the future self-interest of the Republic’s economy was at stake, would they choose principles over jobs?