As an Irishman, I’m appalled by Leo Varadkar’s antagonism over Brexit

As an Irishman, I’m appalled by Leo Varadkar’s antagonism over Brexit

“If things go very wrong it will look like it looked 20 years ago. It would involve customs posts, it would involve people in uniform and it may involve the need, for example, for cameras, physical infrastructure, possibly a police presence, or an army presence to back it up.”

So said Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on Bloomberg during the recent World Economic Forum in Davos.

Over the past few days, the Irish Government has been scrambling to play down those comments. In fact, our Minister for Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister, Simon Coveney, attempted to frame these ill-thought words as anecdotal in order to remind people what things were like before the peace process was finalised. But these comments unnecessarily antagonise our neighbours and jeopardise co-operation going forward; there is no explaining them away.

In a time of polarised politics and social upheaval, the leader of my country shouldn’t be making comments in jest about The Troubles in the North which resulted in the death of over 3,500 people. It is not appropriate, nor is it wise, to be smiling and joking on camera while thousands of people on the island of Ireland face an uncertain future.

The Taoiseach should recall the help we get from the UK’s armed forces. When Russian aircraft regularly enter controlled Irish airspace without their transponders on. it is the Royal Air Force that scramble jets to monitor the risk. So, as an avid member of the European Union that claims to be “United in Diversity”, why does Varadkar see it as acceptable to make a call to arms? Is it ironic or moronic?

Furthermore, the draft Withdrawal Agreement currently on the table proposes internal borders that directly contradict and undermine the integrity of the Good Friday Agreement. There is work to be done, and we should work together. The assumption of a “stronger together” EU that works for us, not against us, may not be true in this instance. Let us segue to the story of Sir James Dyson to shed light on why we need to co-operate with our neighbours going forward.

Over the last week or so, the media in Ireland and the UK has been awash with criticism of James Dyson for moving his company’s headquarters to Singapore. In fact, it was met with raucous indignation by most media outlets as it was seen to be in direct contradiction with Dyson’s support of Brexit. This is either a simple assumption or a convenient opinion. Dyson has simply identified the shift in global trade and economic power away from the West – something the UK will soon be free to exploit on their own.

The reality is that the 21st century will see Asia increase in its ascendancy. During the first decade of this century, a rapid shift in the world’s economic centre of gravity showed the wilting power of the West and Europe. Airports such as Addis Ababa International in Ethiopia or Dubai International Airport serve as some of the busiest in the world due to growth in the South and East. It is time Europe adapted to this shift in power.

At present it seems highly unlikely that Ireland will be adopting our own portmanteau and rushing to have a referendum on Irexit, but maybe we can actualise some of the possible benefits the UK will see. With the UK soon to be creating their own trade agreements outside of the EU’s purview, Mr. Varadkar should seek to cooperate with our friends across the Irish Sea rather than antagonise them.

Perhaps the UK could become Ireland’s ‘Gate to the South’ rather than a conflict zone? Our Taoiseach’s salivating lips are anticipating a full plate of opportunity when Big Ben knells 11pm on 29th March; however, perhaps he ought to remember Pavlov’s dogs and be wary of an empty bowl. After all, friends make the worst enemies.