‘Will SDLP back unity poll if there is a no deal Brexit?’

Elisha McCallion
Elisha McCallion

It is disappointing if not surprising that an Irish nationalist leader like Colum Eastwood, in last week’s ‘Journal’, neglects to mention reunification as the most glaringly obvious solution to the Brexit catastrophe he fears.

While rightly lamenting the fact that actions taken in Westminster have repercussions in Ireland, Colum’s ‘solution’ is to legitimise that anti-democratic state of affairs by advocating Irish MPs take seats in the increasingly chaotic House of Commons.

Boris Johnson shut down Westminster in pursuit of a hard Brexit – leaving even British MPs questioning the value of the Westminster parliament.

Increasingly Scottish and Welsh politicians are concluding that Westminster serves English interests only.

If further proof is needed, Colum should look no further than the SNP benches where there are 35 MPs, the vast majority of whom are implacably opposed to Brexit. Scotland is barely mentioned in the Withdrawal Agreement and those MPs look with envy at the Irish backstop secured, not in Westminster but by pressure in Dublin and Brussels.

The unrelenting pressure and influence Sinn Féin has brought to bear in Dublin, Brussels and Washington has delivered far beyond the expectations of the British establishment. This was admitted by arch-Brexiteer David Davis when he conceded that the British Government underestimated the influence that Sinn Féin would wield.

We long ago concluded that the negotiation that matters is the one with the other 27 EU nations - not the internal Tory party battle playing out on the green benches of Westminster.

The reality is that the British state needs compliant, conforming Irish politicians to give a veneer of credibility to their disastrous Brexit agenda. That’s why former Tory Prime Minister, Theresa May, appointed Ex-SDLP leader, Margaret Richie to the House of Lords. Westminster is the source of our problems, never a solution.

Taking seats in Westminster and swearing an oath of allegiance to a hereditary, unelected, British monarch, will do nothing to serve democracy in Ireland. The way to do that is for pro-Remain parties to continue to frustrate Westminster and its Brexit agenda; to exercise influence where it matters - Dublin and Brussels - where Irish interests can be secured and defended.

We need to work progressively together to ensure we maximise the pro-Remain vote and unseat DUP Brexiteer MPs. Most crucially of all, Colum should support the democratic pathway to a United Ireland, through a referendum as provided for in the Good Friday Agreement.

In the event of a catastrophic no-deal Brexit, reunification is the only solution that will guarantee our ongoing membership of the European Union. The French President has recognised this – it seems bizarre that the leader of the SDLP has not.

When the courts are being forced to rule on the legality of the British Prime Minister’s actions, it is clear that there is no longer anything democratic about Westminster.

A unity referendum is the only way to ensure that the Irish people are given the opportunity to democratically decide our own constitutional future - an option that was conspicuously absent in the list of potential solutions that Colum Eastwood proposed to the ‘Journal’. If this was an unintended oversight,

I look forward to Colum confirming that, in the event of Brexit being imposed on the people of the north without our consent, he will wholeheartedly support the right of Irish people to decide our own future through a unity referendum.

Over to you Colum.