If the argument you are making about Boris Johnson is that he's a man of his word, then you've already lost it

The most consistent principle of Johnson's public life has been his ambition to become Prime Minister, and everything else has always been subservient to it, including the United Kingdom itself.

Lately, Johnson has been threatening to pursue a hard Brexit, but remember this was the man who famously prepared two speeches on the vote, one to remain and one to leave.

He did not believe, as Theresa May did not, that the argument to leave the EU was strong, or that it would win. So he protected himself and watched his nation explode.

Nevertheless, like May, he is now tasked with pursuing a path toward the precipice that he did not originally want to take, and there are some in Ireland, not many admittedly, who think we should follow him over it.

With only months to go before the next big anti-climactic Brexit deadline in October, we are hearing what we always presumed to, that senior British politicians now believe the backstop – the mechanism introduced by Theresa May to ensure no new British border would be erected in Ireland – must go.

It's an inconvenience for them now, so they would prefer to break their word on it because what happens in those far away fields is less important than what happens in Canary Wharf.

Read more: May warns Boris Johnson about Brexit plan to put checkpoints back from the border

History teaches us that when it comes to senior British politicians, promises made to the Irish only endure when there is no political cost to Downing Street. They ignite like straw when the wind changes.

So that sound you hear now is 100,000 Google clicks asking “what is the backstop?”

Since the Tories ignored our stark warnings of what Brexit would mean to the relationship between our two islands they have been reluctantly playing catch up in recent weeks, stung to discover that all we calmly predicted years ago has come to pass in 2019.

In the coming months, we will hear the word backstop relentlessly. We will even be blamed for it as if we cleverly created it to thwart England's pathetic plan to renew its global empire through cutting itself off from the same markets that helped it thrive.

The problem is that none of the proposed solutions to preventing a hard border look sustainable or convincing and England's long, bloody history of colonial invasion has left them with a legacy they didn't anticipate: hard consequences.

Some journalists and politicians talk of the British border in Ireland as a thorny political conundrum that the British and Irish should simply agree to hold their noses and brush past on their way to a financial and political settlement.

But if you lived closer to that border, as I did throughout the Troubles, such talk is certain to infuriate you. That's because I remember that it cost more than 3,600 lives over 30 years.

That's why the people who lived there insisted that the British government restate its unbreakable commitment to avoid “a hard border, including any physical infrastructure or related checks and controls” in December 2017.

There have always been people on both sides of the debate who are willing to consign their neighbors to perdition if it means less of an impact on themselves.

Read more: A border after Brexit is inevitable - We must change our backstop stance

The Irish economist David McWilliams has wisely said that when your neighbors show signs of deep political instability you should do nothing because you'll look remarkably sane by comparison.

That should be our guiding thought as the clock ticks down and the Tories saber rattle. We know what they expect us to do, we know that some among our own number is willing to make inexcusable concessions to avoid all the financial uncertainty. But we should keep our nerve, and I am certain that we will.

Because Brexit is already dead on arrival. It can not do the things it promised and neither can it be revoked. It's zombie politics, in other words, and the virus is contagious. The only thing to do with it is to try and contain it and I think we are up to that task.

If the UK crashes out it will be because of a failure of UK politics, not economics, and that crisis will not last very long because as McWilliams says, facing into utter catastrophe, the UK will be forced to sign anything that's put in front of it.

Remember that we didn't ask for this, we advised against this, we gave our view in good faith, we gave our warnings in great detail, and we were ignored.

Now we should pair our nails and watch events play out until the fever breaks and reality dawns.

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments section, below. 

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