The British establishment appears to be circling the wagons on Brexit and unsettling their Irish colleagues with a remarkably aggressive attitude to Brexit and the Irish border.
The British should be reminded that the last man who agreed to an Irish border, Michael Collins, was assassinated for it. No Irish government in their right mind would agree to anything like it.
Alas the Orange Card, just like in 1921, is in play. Theresa May’s Tory government is in hock to the Democratic Unionist Party MPs who prop up her government. They wield significant influence which will melt like summer snow after the next election.
The unionists will not allow the obvious answer, to locate the border at the seaport and airports rather than on terrain still disputed.
The Tories are clearly in the mood to please them.
Former Tory cabinet member Liam Fox accused the Irish government of “blackmail” in attempting to force Northern Ireland to stay out of the Brexit departure set for 2019.
Even more worrying, he called for the border issue between the Republic and Northern Ireland to be settled last after the main negotiations were winding down.
"We don't want there to be a hard border, but the U.K. is going to be leaving the customs union and the single market," Fox told Sky News.
He added, "We can't come to a final answer to the Irish question until we get an idea of the end state. And until we get into discussions with the EU on the end state that will be very difficult, so the quicker we can do that the better, and we are still in a position where the EU doesn't want to do that."
It sounds like Fox and his suddenly hard line Tory colleagues are making the Irish border the hind tit of the negotiations to be settled when Britain is good and ready. It’s the old British colonial mindset, and the paddies need to lie down before it.
But times are very different now. Why should Ireland be punished for British mistakes?
Brexit is a man-made disaster, a massive mistake which will become obvious when it is implemented. Not since the charge of the Light Brigade has Britain overestimated its power and influence.
Ireland marching to the British tune on Brexit would be a fiasco. The entire peace process would be likely to crack and crumble if a hard border is maintained.
Such is the selfish introspection going on in Tory ranks right now they hardly seem worried about it. It is a disgraceful misreading of the Brexit situation which is deadly serious for Ireland.
The EU has made it clear the issue of the Irish border must be settled before the economic negotiations begin. Ireland also has the right to veto any agreement that is unfavorable. They should not hesitate to use it.
Relations between Ireland and Britain have sunk to their lowest level since The Troubles. They may sink even lower, but Ireland must not concede on the border issue, To do so would be to endanger the great accomplishment of the peace process worked for so very hard on both sides. The British need a wake-up call that this is not 1817 but 2017. Britannia can no longer waive the rules.