Could Brexit Lead To A United Ireland?

Kim McLendon - Author
By

Jun. 28 2016, Updated 10:26 a.m. ET

Brexit would put Northern Ireland in a very uncomfortable geographic situation. Its expansive border to the south would have to be guarded as an international border checkpoint, making the only freely accessible egress from the six counties a bridge to Britain. An even more alarming proposal suggested that Britain could also shut off Northern Ireland from the rest of the U.K., according to the Independent. That would leave residents of the six counties with virtually nowhere to go, at least not without a Visa and going through a checkpoint.

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A united Ireland is starting to have appeal among many factions in the six counties. Northern Ireland’s unique situation makes Brexit rather unacceptable. Because it only has six counties, Northern Ireland isn’t able to be independent of foreign trade. If, suddenly, all Europe were closed off and Britain failed to meet their needs, what could the six counties do? The EU has actually helped the six counties quite a bit with various financial subsidizing programs, ease of trade, and open borders to Ireland in the South, according to the Guardian. Without the European Union, Britain may not be able to subsidize the six counties, or help them with foreign trade.

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Brexit could make leaving the UK a necessity for all those living in the six counties, for both economic and geographical reasons. If a border poll could ever successfully vote in the unification, this would be an advantageous time. In order to vote the measure in, would require the votes of those who would normally be opposed to leaving the U.K. Brexit is a tremendously destabilizing force for the six counties that could influence those normally loyal to the U.K. to vote to leave it.

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A united Ireland could be a viable option, even for wealthy Protestant citizens, when faced with the unique financial hardships likely to be brought upon the six counties by the U.K.’s exit from the European Union. In a vote, they could choose between open borders to their south and to the rest of Europe, while having the bridge to England as their only closed border, or being closed off entirely with no unguarded egress from the six counties. Under those circumstances, perhaps many of those normally opposed would be tempted to vote for a united Ireland.

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Brexit could lead to a united Ireland, and it could be delivered by a simple vote, because of a stipulation in the Good Friday Agreement. The Good Friday Agreement was created to stop the violence between the Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland, euphemistically referred to as the Troubles. These troubles, which spanned from the 1960s until the end of the 20th century, were just an echo of the tension between British Protestants and Irish Catholics that has occurred with few interruptions for many centuries.

A united Ireland has always been a hope of the Sinn Fein, a political party with strong roots in the Irish Republican Army. Sinn Fein has called for a border poll, which is a vote to be taken within the six counties of Northern Ireland, to determine whether the six counties will unify with the rest of Ireland, or remain in the U.K., according to the Irish Republican News.

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