Working towards Irish Unity




Thanks for everything, Boris

And, so, he is gone. Finito. Ceased to be.

Goodbye Boris, we shan’t forget you.

Your contribution to the cause of Irish unity will not be overlooked.

The day after that border poll, as the sun shines across a single, 32-county Ireland, the multitudes will rejoice.

Choirs of voices will sing your praises.

‘Thank-you Boris, thank-you…’

Condescension aside, Boris Johnson has turbo-charged the cause of Irish unification.

His contribution to British and Irish politics over the past decade was the equivalent of a wormhole in space, bringing two disparate parts of the galaxy together.

It’s taken us from a place where the question of Irish unity, important though it was, was on the backburner to a place where it is right in front of us. Unavoidable. Inexorable.

Sure, we would have gotten there eventually, but as I’m fond of saying, Brexit was the accelerant poured over the dry tinder of demographic and electoral developments.

It has thrown all the anomalies of Northern Ireland into sharp relief and, through the Windsor Framework, ensured it is now a place apart and on a conveyor-belt to become part of a new Ireland.

And, for that, we have Boris to thank.

He famously wavered about which side of the argument to back ahead of the referendum in 2016 – writing, so it is said, two different articles depending on which side he would eventually support, Remain or Leave.

In his defence, his charlatanism is sincere and utterly transparent. A lifelong pathology. Hidden in plain view.

You simply cannot trust anything that leaves his lips, as so many have learned to their cost.

Having told the DUP conference in 2018 that there would never be a sea border, he then agreed with Brussels to just that. 

He leaves office muttering darkly about conspiracies to remove him, oblivious to his own role in his downfall. No contrition and even less self-reflection.

Paranoia now added to his general delusion.

Another victim of that peculiar fate that often befalls British prime ministers, who succumb to the thing they were supposed to be good at.

Churchill was the roar of the British people, who nevertheless turfed him out of office the first chance they had straight after the war.

His wartime foreign secretary, Anthony Eden, a whizz at diplomacy, was destroyed by the Suez debacle in 1956.

Harold Wilson, the whip-smart economist, could not stave off economic malaise in the 1970s.

While his successor, Jim Callaghan, the trade union man, was brought down by the Winter of Discontent.

Hard, now, to remember Boris as London’s mayor; the clown-prince of British politics whose magical elixir helped to swing a vote to leave the European Union, when he eventually made up his mind which side to back.

He leaves office with a trail of wreckage in his wake. Despised and humiliated. Discredited and forlorn.

Yet he is still our Boris, the wrecker who’s lack of forethought, or concern for the consequences of his actions has perhaps taken years off the cause of Irish unity.

So, Boris, for that at least, we thank you.

Kevin Meagher is author of A United Ireland: Why Unification is Inevitable and How it Will Come About and What A Bloody Awful Country: Northern Ireland’s Century of Division.