On June 23rd, the United Kingdom is set to hold a referendum on whether to stay in the European Union or get out. Such a departure would be called the Brexit (Britain Exit).
President Obama is against it, as he’s already made clear, and the German Foreign Minister is against it. That’s not surprising, but look at the argument he is using – that a British exit from the EU could spark off renewed violence in Northern Ireland. Really?
From The Local, Germany edition:
A vote by Britain to quit the European Union might reignite conflict in Northern Ireland because it would re-erect a border through the country, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Thursday [May 12th].
Berlin: Brexit could trigger new Northern Irish conflict
The Local, Germany Edition, May 13, 2016
It sounds like the German government is worried about the referendum.
"In the case of a 'Brexit', it won't be that the EU is simply a group of 28 countries minus one," Steinmeier told a debate on the future of Europe.
But it could unleash new dangerous dynamics, he suggested, pointing to the case of Northern Ireland.
The minister said that an Irish representative had once told him that the conflict in Northern Ireland was currently quiet "because there are no borders in Ireland."
There is a border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (part of the UK) but it is currently an open border. It can be freely crossed and isn’t even officially marked. (See Wikipedia entry Republic of Ireland – United Kingdom Boundary which has some photographs.)
The German Foreign Minister is worried…
But if the United Kingdom were to quit the EU, "there will be a border again between Ireland and Northern Ireland. And that could at least have the potential of rekindling a conflict that has seemingly calmed down," he said.
It sounds like the German Foreign Minister is grasping at straws.
The reason the UK and the Republic of Ireland have an open border has nothing to do with the EU. Neither the UK nor Ireland is part of the Schengen Agreement but instead have their own bilateral accord, the Common Travel Area, which takes in the entire British Isles archipelago and has nothing to do with the EU.
Supposing the UK were to withdraw from the EU, it could maintain the status quo with the Republic of Ireland on its own, as it is doing already, with no meddling from the EU bureaucracy whatsoever.
Why is Germany meddling in British-Irish relations? Simply because the German government doesn’t want the UK to leave the EU. It’s a scare tactic, in other words.
Rather than meddle in British-Irish relations and obsess over the British-Irish border, the German government could concentrate on something much closer to home, namely, preventing a Muslim invasion of Germany itself and dealing with the multitudes who are already in the country.