Today, today is a day of firsts. Two things have happened that have utterly rocked my understanding of the world to its core; two seismic events, so momentous, as to feel that it feels the ground beneath my feet has been knocked off its axis. The first, was that this morning, in a moment of sleep-deprived delirium, I accidentally brushed my teeth before having my customary bowl of morning porridge and was surprised to find that the residual mint flavouring left in my mouth actually kind of enhanced the whole porridge experience. Not so much, I should say, that I would deliberately go out of my way to recreate the circumstances of this situation, but nice enough that I wouldn't be unhappy were it to happen again. The second, was that I found myself genuinely impressed with a leave voter's cavalier honesty on a matter of Brexit policy concerning Ireland. I will gladly admit that the first of these two events is far more limited in its universal appeal and relatability than the second, but I was equally compelled to get it off my chest.
An audience member, speaking on BBC's Question Time, declared that if the main stumbling block for the UK leaving the EU is 'Ireland' then it should be 'given back to the Irish'. Her logic is both somewhat faultless and wonderfully self-defeating. Sure, the main logistical stumbling block that has stood in the way of the UK successfully and smoothly negotiating its exit from the EU is the difficulties of potentially having reconfigure the land border that exists between Ireland and Northern Ireland, unraveling the Good Friday agreements and destabilising an increasingly fractious peace that was arduously achieved after 30 years of vicious bloodshed - and it is certainly true that if Northern Ireland wasn't in the UK then this would no longer be a problem.
It is however wonderfully bizarre for a leave voter - someone who evidently believes in the supremacy and sanctity of the United Kingdom - to willingly call for parts of the United Kingdom to be jettisoned. It is the type of desperate mentality exhibited by a fox caught in a trap which will gladly gnaw off its own leg to achieve freedom - however, it is a fox that has long espoused its indifference for the leg that has been trapped, saying that it doesn't really care if it's able to keep it or not. This is a grim reminder of this paradoxical and complex relationship between the Unionist aspects of Northern Ireland and the most ardent conservatives within British society. Northern Irish Unionists want to belong to a Union whose members are fundamentally ambivalent about their involvement.
That oft-peddled phrase by the right-wing press springs to mind, that 'An Englishman's home is his castle'. There is a duality that exists in the mentality of leave voters which simultaneously asserts the UK to hold a position of global importance and influence unto itself - which it undeniably does - while also prioritising a near obsessive fixation on the local. Some leave voters would be happy to allow increasing swathes of the UK to secede from the Union, until eventually it is only their house, a sole micro-state unto itself which has seceded from the EU, bordered by lands which remain under EU jurisdiction. And they will stand atop their roof waving a Union Jack and screaming about straightened bananas. This is the future we are plummeting towards.
It is surely a sign of how incoherent a political era we are living through where someone, we can reasonably presume to be a British conservative, is loudly advocating Irish reunification on British television.