The News Letter editorial (‘There is no pro unionist Brexit deal on the horizon,’ November 13), correctly highlights the three unsavoury constitutional options that unionism may soon have to face.
Remain, a soft UK wide Brexit with Non-Tory coalition and the Tory deal.
Unionists best hope is that the election presents another hung parliament which allows no party to force through any position by January 31 and a ‘no deal UK wide Brexit’ happens by default. However such an outcome is unlikely thanks to Brexit Party support for sitting Tory MPs.
Unionists now need to assess what they believe is the next ‘least worst option’.
As a supporter of Brexit long before the term was invented it breaks my heart to consider any of them.
However the priority now must to find the best strategy to keep the British family of nations together.
If we support Remain the EU will continue to gradually deconstruct the UK into autonomous administrative regions. This strategy has helped Scotland nationalists.
It will also perhaps evolve into coercing Britain to agree that the Province be part an all-Ireland region.
The deal proposed by the Tories will also be fatal to the Union and an internal customs border would be inconceivable in any other democracy in the world.
I believe the least worst option is for unionists to back a UK wide soft Brexit under a non-Tory coalition.
Such a position may involve doing what would have once been unthinkable, a deal which empowers Jeremy Corbryn and the SNP.
Whilst this may understandably unpalatable to victims of IRA violence, politics makes for ‘strange bedfellows’.
Unionists must balance their concerns about Corbryn on two hard facts.
Firstly, in the short term a Corbyn lead government is not going to do anything more destructive to the Union than the Tory plan
The last Tory government (dependent as it was on DUP votes) did not show any spine in standing up to Sinn Fein or the Irish government on contentious matters, such as legacy issues affecting ex servicemen.
Secondly, a Corbyrn administration will be an economic disaster for the UK. He would probably not be in power for long.
This position keeps the UK together as one political entity, albeit in the short term it puts the whole UK in the ‘worst of both worlds’. Obligated to follow EU directives, but no influence in making them.
It will also hamper the UK ability to makes it own trade deals which was to be a great benefit of Brexit.
However it is hard to imagine the British public tolerating the above arrangement long term. People will come to realise that the UK can trade and live outside the EU.
Unionism’s hope must be that public opinion will grow more resentful with the EU and a future government may be get a mandate for a full withdrawal.
That government may again consider Northern Ireland expendable but this option is the only one which may still provide a future UK-wide Brexit.
It may also help undermine the credibility of a future referendum result for Irish unity. Unionists will be able to argue that a precedent has been set that a 51% percent majority does not justify radical constitutional change without substantial compromises to appease the minority.
By formally leaving the EU it may make it more difficult for a potential future independent Scotland to rejoin. This may help deter Scottish independence.
The painful reality is that there are no easy answers for unionism. Difficult decisions have to be made.
Kirk McDowell, Belfast BT5