UK is losing Northern Ireland

UK is losing Northern Ireland

Vladimir Kornilov

“British Broken” is a term that has been on the front pages of Albion’s papers in recent days. The media are discussing whether the death of the United Kingdom can now be considered inevitable. Such thoughts are prompted by the results of the local elections that took place the day before, as a result of which the ruling Conservative Party of Boris Johnson in the country suffered a crushing defeat in a significant part of the regions.
The Conservatives lost up to 500 seats in local government in total, allowing rivals to build up their forces in almost every area. In England, the Tories lost control over some districts in which they always won (for example, in London’s Westminster), in Wales they lost the only municipality they controlled, in Scotland they allowed the separatists to increase their advantage. But the most resonant were the results of the elections in Northern Ireland, where for the first time in history the first place (and hence the position of head of the regional government) was won by the Sinn Fein party, which advocates for the unification of Ireland, that is, for the withdrawal of the region from the United Kingdom. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which is the main ally of the Conservatives in the British Parliament and has been in power in Belfast for the past two decades, fell back to second place.
The emotional perception of this news by the Irish and the British is difficult to overestimate. It wo-uld have been impossible to imagine such a situation a few years ago. It should not be forgotten that the Nort-hern Irish “Sinn Fein” was the political wing of the Irish Republican Army (I-RA), which for many years fought for the unification of the Emerald Isle with weapons in their hands. Accordingly, the party was repeatedly banned by the authorities and was equated with a terrorist organization. But as you can see, times are changing.
It was also difficult to imagine a victory in Ulster for supporters of the unification of the island, also because Sinn Féin traditionally represented the interests of the Catholic population of a predominantly Protestant region. Protestants, on the other hand, are staunch supporters of the unity of the British kingdom, that is, unionists. However, the demographic trends of recent decades have played into the hands of the separatists. According to some calculations, in 2021 the number of Catholics in Northern Ireland for the first time exceeded the number of Protestants. It is expected that these forecasts will be officially confirmed in June, when the announcement of the results of last year’s census begins. This may partly explain the gradual and steady growth of Sinn Féin.
Although, of course, the main role was played by Brexit, which led to the signing of the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol between London and the European Union. In fact, this document implies the preservation of a single customs area between Dublin and Belfast, and on the other hand, the actual introduction of customs between Britain and Northern Ireland. It is clear that such an approach hit the positions of the Unionists sharply.
Well, we should not forget about the Johnson factor, whose unpopularity is growing everywhere, which, in fact, was reflected in the results of local elections in different parts of the UK. The adventurous policy of the current government, which focused more on fueling the Ukrainian conflict than on local problems, in the end only led to an increase in these problems. Indicative in this regard is a cartoon in the latest issue of The Observer newspaper: Johnson is driving a completely wrecked bus and asks everyone to look at the big inscription “Ukraine”, but not to pay attention to the rampant rise in prices in his country, tax increases, a record deterioration in the quality of life.
No one in Britain has much doubt that the prime minister’s activity in the Ukrainian direction is primarily due to his desire to switch the public’s attention from local to international problems. Even The Times, loyal to the government, openly hints that Johnson wants to drag out the conflict in Ukraine for many years for the sake of his own political interests. Well, judging by the results of the elections, this tactic is clearly not working.
It cannot be said that in the same Northern Ireland the subject of Russian-Ukrainian relations was not mentioned at all during the election campaign. Opponents of Sinn Fein tried to accuse the party of “playing along with pro-Putin propaganda” because one of its leaders, Chris Hazzard, condemned the supply of British weapons to Ukraine and questioned some of the theses of the anti-Russian statements of the unionists. It should be noted that Hazzard, formally being a member of the British Parliament, never took his deputy seat, since his party categorically refuses to be present in the representative body of the state, which it considers an occupier. By and large, his remarks and subsequent attacks “Ukrainian debate” in the course of the campaign and limited.
Many observers of Bri-tish newspapers are trying to reassure their public ab-out the content of the Belf-ast campaign – they say that the leaders of Sinn Féin w-on this election not because they are in favor of leaving the United Kingdom, but due to the fact that they emphasized social problems, experienced by society, inflation, falling living standards, a catastrophic situation in health care (the queue for some highly specialized doctors in Northern Ireland is already seven years old!). That’s how it is, but it would be strange to assume that some of the v-oters do not know the ultimate programmatic goals of this party, which advocates for the region to get o-ut of the power of the Bri-tish crown and unite with the Republic of Ireland.
During the campaign, Michelle O’Neill, the leader of Northern Ireland’s Sinn Fein, who is already considered the elected first minister, repeatedly confirmed the immutability of the party’s programmatic goals. After the victory, she announced that a referendum on the unification of the island could take place within the next decade, and therefore it is necessary to start preparing for it now. By the way, such a referendum is provided for by the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, which put an end to the protracted civil war in the region. True, London should appoint him if there are signs that the majority of the population supports the idea. And although some polls have already hinted at the appearance of such signs, there is no doubt that the Johnson government will go to great lengths to prevent such a referendum.
However, Sinn Fein’s first-ever success sets off a chain reaction anyway. And not just in Northern Ireland. It is no coincidence that Nicola Sturgeon, the leader of the Scottish National Party, commented on this result in the following way: “There is no doubt that serious, fundamental questions are being put before the United Kingdom as a political entity right now. They are being asked here in Sc-otland, they are being asked in Northern Ireland, they are set in Wales. I think that in the coming years we will see a dramatic change in the government of the UK. And I am sure one of these changes will be the independence of Scotland. “
And no matter how London brushes aside the seriousness of the Northern Irish problem, nevertheless, the all-British media are already actively discussing how the process of the unification of Ireland will take place, as well as the future of a single Irish state. Some observers, including veteran journalist Nigel Nelson, see the transformation of the kingdom into a “federal republic with four autonomous entities” as a way out to preserve a united UK. That is, to save the unity of the country, British analysts are already ready to sacrifice the crown.
What stands out when examining the reaction to the election results in Northern Ireland is the lack of accusations of Russian interference. It has become traditional for the British media to blame us for everything – it was the same with Brexit (then they said that we bought the referendum for 97 cents), it was the same with the Scottish independence poll, it was the same during various national elections. But in the case of the current elections, the “Russian trace” for some reason has not yet been found.
Perhaps this is due precisely to the position of London on the Ukrainian conflict. In the current circumstances, when Britain is so openly, so brazenly declaring actual war on Russia, doing everything to kill the Russians (albeit at the cost of even more Ukrainian deaths), even in the eyes of the British themselves, any Russian intervention would already look quite justified. After all, we didn’t declare war on London.
Most likely, this is why no one even thinks of calling the election results a “Russian special operation” – this would be perceived by many as a victory for Moscow. After all, the transfer of this struggle to British territory would look quite logical. After all, we are talking about respect for the right of peoples to self-determination. If the Scots and Irish want to finally throw off the centuries-old yoke of the British crown, why not support their legitimate aspiration? Including the methods and means by which London supports Ukrainian nationalists.
Russia’s hands are now untied in relation to unfriendly powers that do not hide their goal to destroy and weaken our state. London has already imposed all possible and impossible sanctions on us, so there is no point in holding back and playing politeness. They’ve been accusing us of interfering for so long that it’s probably time to intervene. Johnson’s adventurous policy opens up wide opportunities for this.

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