May 8, 2017
What would happen if Jihadists took control of Europe?
Well it’s already happening. The Brexiteer Jihadis deep in the English shires are all fired up and want the British to walk away from the EU without a deal. They saw red this week. Forget small considerations like the economy, their core position is a theological one. From the golf clubs of Surrey a vista has emerged of a holy war between Blighty and the Foreigners and the true blue creed demands the believers break with the EU forever.
Fundamentalism isn’t unique to the British. Terrifyingly for moderates, the European Jihadis marched into the light this week. These Jihadists want to wage a federalist bellum sacrum and put the British to the sword for having the temerity to leave the club. Like the British strain, the Euro Jihadists are also fundamentalists. They are federalist fundamentalists. Their end game is to root out infidels who believe in pagan notions of sovereignty and national interest. The fact that they refer to countries as member states, rather than nations, gives their game away. In war, language matters.
The federalist fundamentalists want to crush the British because a British economic calamity after Brexit will prove definitively to any doubters that leaving the inner sanctum is a mistake. Equally, the British Jihadists want Brexit to be the beginning of the end of the EU because this will sanctify their own Brexit creed.
Therefore, the entire Brexit debacle risks being dictated by the extremes. This is not unusual. We’ve seen how reasonably moderate voices can be pushed aside. Think about Northern Ireland: once direct rule was superseded by the Belfast Agreement, the middle ground in politics was washed away and the extremists in both tribes took over.
The game then moves from compromise to all or nothing.
This swing was on display last week. It was a very bad week for moderates on both sides.
The Jihadists have been on the warpath since Monday when the Europeans rashly leaked the details of the disastrous Downing St dinner, prompting the British to go all ISIS. The Brexit Jihadists screamed that this was clear evidence of European mendacity.
Things went from bad to worse all week, as both sets of Jihadists went on the mega-phone diplomacy overdrive, shouting at each other across the Channel. The British were on a “different galaxy” roared the Europeans, the Europeans were “interfering in the UK election” bleated the Brexiteers.
For Ireland, this turn of events is not good. We are caught in the middle here. Because of trade, tourism and economics, we actually need Britain to win this one – and get the best deal possible.
Brexit hardly features in any continental headlines largely because for most continentals, Britain is not particularly relevant. It’s a bit like Italy for us. We do less than 2% of our trade with Italy, so while we have a remote interest in Italian events, Italy isn’t box office here. In contrast, Britain is. All week our national media has been following every twist and turn of the Brexit drama. Over €1 billion in trade per week will make you tune in!
But we are mere onlookers, not players.
We have no credible influence here and this is because if the Europeans make Ireland front and central to their negotiations, the UK will have get a good deal to protect Ireland. Only the minimal disruption to the UK can protect Ireland.
But when you think about it, such an outcome can’t happen because if Britain is left better off or at least, not much worse off after Brexit, this outcome will embolden others to think that leaving isn’t such a bad idea.
Therefore, in Brussels – and this was very much on display this week — Britain must be punished and by extension, Ireland has to suffer collateral damage.
If Ireland is not collateral damage, then Britain wins and Brussels can’t let that happen.
This is our central dilemma, our conundrum if you will.
It is very hard to see how the two sides can be reconciled.
Our government is doing its best to spin that we are central to the negotiations but things have got off to a bad start.
Many of us expected the British to move to the fundamentalist position quite quickly, not least because the Remain voice has all but disappeared in UK politics. The ground has been ceded to the extremes. And we know from the North that once this process occurs, it’s very difficult for the middle ground to get back into the game.
The British Jihadists don’t give a fiddlers about Ireland. In fact, there’s probably an element of the Conservative and Unionist Party, smarting that the Irish must be considered at all in the great march of the British people. And while I suspect in the halls of Brussels there may be some sympathy for our plight, the cold logic of making Brexit difficult implies that Ireland can’t be kept happy.
So what gives?
My overwhelming sense is that the Europeans see us as the weakest link. We are the country most likely to break ranks and try to open up discussions with the UK because that’s in our interests. This is why the EU is offering crumbs off the table like mentioning Irish unity in the same context as EU membership. But this was always the case. The German precedent led the way here.
The question therefore is to establish our bottom line. Free trade with the UK has to be our breaking point, don’t you think? If we don’t get this, the deal will be calamitous for Ireland. Can an Irish government sign such a treaty? If it does what will happen to it and what will happen to Irish attitudes to the EU?
There’s lots to play for in the months ahead. However, with the Jihadists on both sides now on the march, the nation that stands between them will get crushed unless it learns very quickly to stand up for itself.