Brexit and Westminster’s “Ulsterior Motives”
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The chances are growing that an unexpected consequence of the 2016 UK referendum to exit the European Union (or “Brexit”) may eventuate in the unexpected development of Northern Ireland exiting the UK, or what might be termed “NIRexit.” In other words, Brexit may lead to Irish unification. The long-cherished dream of Irish nationalists for “a united Ireland” may therefore be the inadvertent consequence of the campaign to withdraw from the EU by the Brexiteers. Both demographics and economics are pushing Dublin and Belfast ever closer together. The increasing likelihood is that the attractions of remaining in the EU will be more important to Northern Irish citizens than age-old anxieties about joining the traditionally Catholic dominated Irish Republic. “Potatoes, not popes” may weigh more heavily than historical divisions between the Catholic south and the Irish north, especially because the Irish Republic is no longer dominated by the Catholic Church.