Northern Ireland has fallen victim to the self-loathing of liberals in the UK

There is a sickness which pervades our liberal class.

By Ben Habib
Thursday, 27th January 2022, 2:01 am
Ben Habib seen outside the High Court in Belfast last year for a legal challenge to the Northern Ireland Protocol. He is a former Brexit Party MEP
Ben Habib seen outside the High Court in Belfast last year for a legal challenge to the Northern Ireland Protocol. He is a former Brexit Party MEP

It is a disdain for the United Kingdom; for its history, its culture, its people and its unity.

Somehow, these people, who themselves pervade our media, the civil service and governing institutions, have made it unfashionable generally to be proud of being British.

Patriotism has become a dirty word. Pride in our country is frowned upon. So deep is their disdain that they have no trouble in conceding rights, hard won and established over centuries, to foreign powers.

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It is largely these people that wish to surrender our sovereignty to the European Union. They call it shared or pooled sovereignty.

They lack confidence not just in the United Kingdom but in themselves. For if they had self-confidence, they would never give up something as precious as the right of self-determination within our sovereign unit: the union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

It is these same people that care not for Northern Ireland’s position in the UK as an equal member alongside England, Scotland and Wales.

There may have been some justification for the Belfast Agreement. I myself could not see it at the time. The IRA were beaten and we volunteered up defeat out of the jaws of victory. But, be that as it may, the Belfast Agreement was put in place and it has endured for nearly a generation.

The Northern Ireland Protocol, which falsely claims to protect that agreement, is yet another entirely unnecessary step towards Irish nationalism and the destruction of the UK. The protocol is perfectly designed to break the East/West dimension of the Belfast Agreement. The border down the Irish Sea is the only example in history of a country voluntarily partitioning itself without a single shot being fired.

It is a tragedy for those of us that love our country. Pro-unionists in Northern Ireland feel that love more acutely than many in Great Britain.

Certainly, their love is unrequited by Westminster. It has been thus for at least the last 40 years. If this was not the case, Northern Ireland would economically be head and shoulders ahead of Ireland.

It is not because successive governments have ignored it. There has been a dearth of investment in every form of infrastructure and tax rates have been way ahead of Ireland, deterring the private sector. With an open border to Ireland, Westminster’s policies in NI have robbed it of any chance of rapid advancement. Politicians and civil servants alike see Northern Ireland as a deficit economy and a drain on the Treasury but they only have themselves to blame.

And now, with the protocol, Northern Ireland is being pushed into the arms of Ireland economically, judicially, and constitutionally. We are witnessing the reunification of Ireland without so much as an enquiry of its unionist constituency. Cross community consent, a cornerstone of the Belfast Agreement, has been set aside.

The protocol is nothing short of constitutional vandalism.

Westminster is not coming to the rescue. Pro-unionists and their representatives must take the lead. Time is short.

The battle for our union is almost lost. The only way to win would be by first invoking Article 16 to suspend the protocol. That would be a first step crucial step; one which genuinely would get the EU’s attention. Any ‘deal’ ahead of invocation could only mean an ongoing role for the European Court of Justice and alignment with EU regulations and laws on foodstuffs, livestock, medicines and the like.

There seems to be no will in Her Majesty’s Government to put the customs border where it should go and where a border has existed for over a hundred years. This border is explicitly recognised in the Belfast Agreement but that seems lost on our government. Yet again the self-loathing classes in our midst are prevailing.

There is a chance [if the courts act equitably, a good chance] that the judicial review of the protocol launched by myself and others saves the day. But it is less than ideal to have to rely on the courts for something which is inherently political and should be resolved politically. Without pro-unionists and their leaders making their voices heard and heard loudly, the United Kingdom will be shorn back to just Great Britain; the Saltire of St Patrick will fall from the Union Jack.

l Ben Habib is a former Brexit Party MEP. This article is based on a foreword he wrote for Jamie Bryson’s latest report on the Northern Ireland Protocol in his Unionist Voice publication