Friday, March 15, 2019

BREXIT, Context, Chaos and Revelation





Derek Laverty sscc offers his reflexions on Brexit

Context:  I cannot look at Brexit without thinking of Trump. My sense is that the 2016 election of Trump and the UK vote to leave Europe both evidence a shift to the right in politics and the emergence of what we now call ‘fake news‘.  The actual results on both sides of the Atlantic were certainly unanticipated and have brought with them unforeseen and one can say very divisive and chaotic consequences.  This shift to the right and the perversion of truth as a means to justify ends are not limited to the UK and the USA. I believe there is something more global taking place in our world today. Brexit and Trump are but symptoms of this.  What ‘it’ is I cannot say but it does seem connected to: (i) the global social and economic inequality that is growing among peoples; (ii) an unreasonable sense of entitlement and (iii) self-serving hidden powers and agendas.

The official position of the UK (Conservative Party) is that it will exit Europe on 29/3/19 - ‘deal or no deal’.  ‘No deal’ simply means that at the point of exiting Europe no terms (e.g, travel, trade, customs union, etc) will have been agreed beforehand between the UK and Europe. Alongside this is the ‘back-stop’.  The ‘back-stop’ effectively is an ‘insurance policy’ that was previously and unanimously agreed between the 27 European Countries and UK to prevent the return at any time post Brexit of any kind of hard (physical) border between the Republic of Ireland (Europe) and Northern Ireland (UK). Under pressure from Northern Ireland and Brexiteers, the UK government is being pushed to persuade Europe to reconsider the ‘back-stop’ position, so far without success. By way of a postscript the latest position is that the Prime Minister’s ‘deal’ has been rejected by her own party and by Parliament.  So right now votes are going on in respect of leaving Europe with no deal or to ask Europe to grant the UK an extension of the deadline.

Chaos: Though my family left Belfast when I was quite young, I know from history, family and experience what border controls (police/army) and border disputes were like! I would vouch to say that very few people would want to return to such a way of life.  Since the Good Friday Agreement (1999), people living in the North and in the South have come to experience Ireland as one Island in which they are free to travel from one end to the other.  Arguably, in many places the sharp distinctions of North/South identity that were present in earlier times had softened .. until now. The erection of a hard border would be a most regrettable setback.

Whichever way and for whatever reason people voted on Brexit - these past two years have been and continue to be marked by division, uncertainty, speculation and anxiety - all of which are having an impact on the social and economic fabric not just of the United Kingdom but of Ireland, of Europe and indeed beyond:  morale is dampened, hope is dimmed; frustration, fear and anger are giving rise to political unrest.  One only has to think of the Yellow jackets and red scarves movements in France and the chalked messages in Belgium.  Scapegoats are being sought.

“Let’s make America great” again and the desire to put the great back into Britain appear to me to have more to do with selfish ambition than anything else.  The argument put forward by Republicans (US) and Conservatives (UK) seemed to be that if we seal our borders we will all be safer (and richer). This is not the way of the Gospel.  A ‘a go it alone philosophy’ is not part of the divine dream. Internationality, interrelations, interdependence, interfaith, interreligious dialogue, interaction are the words that matter today, not individualism, independence and isolationism.  In this time of Lent let’s hope that the UK, the US and other likeminded bodies undergo a conversion – a change of mind and heart.  

Revelation:  As I write these words I wonder what insights can be gleaned from what is happening. What are these times revealing to us?

1.  There is no perfect society or system. 
2. Humanly speaking we are incapable of building or maintaining any such society
or system.
3.  For the common good we must work with and for each other.
4. From a religious point of view, we recognise that we need God’s help.




Derek Laverty sscc nos ofrece unas reflexiones sobre el Brexit
que han sido publicadas por la revista 21

La elección de Trump en 2016 y la votación en el Reino Unido (RU) por el Brexit, evidencian un giro político a la derecha y la aparición de fake news. Ambos resultados fueron inesperados. El giro y la alteración de la verdad como medio para justificar un fin, no se limitan solo a RU y EE.UU. Algo más global toma fuerza en el mundo de hoy. El Brexit y Trump son síntomas de ello. Parece relacionado con el crecimiento de la desigualdad social y económica global entre los pueblos, con el sentido inmoderado de aquello a lo que cada uno tiene derecho o que reclama, y con los poderes interesados y ocultos. 

La postura oficial del Partido Conservador británico es que el país saldrá de Europa el 29 de marzo, haya acuerdo o no. Si no lo hay, ninguna condición (sobre desplazamientos, comercio, aduanas, etc.) estará previamente fijada entre RU y Europa. A eso se suma el back-stop: medida de protección previa y unánimemente acordada entre la UE y RU, para prevenir la vuelta, tras el Brexit, a cualquier forma de frontera física entre la República de Irlanda (UE) e Irlanda del Norte (RU). Esta y los favorables al Brexit, presionan al Gobierno británico para que persuada a Europa a reconsiderar el acuerdo. Hasta ahora sin éxito. La fecha límite innegociable  ¡podría ser prolongada! Conozco por propia experiencia los controles (policía/ejército) y las disputas fronterizas. Pocas personas querrían revivirlo. Desde el Acuerdo del Viernes Santo (1999) las gentes sienten que Irlanda es una única isla, por donde pueden desplazarse libremente. Las tajantes distinciones del pasado entre las identidades del norte y del sur, se habían suavizado hasta ahora. El restablecimiento de una frontera física sería un lamentable paso atrás.

Tras votar, los dos últimos años están marcados por la división, la incertidumbre, la especulación y la ansiedad. Eso produce un impacto económico y social, en RU, en Irlanda, en Europa y más allá: el ánimo y la esperanza decaen. La frustración, el miedo y la indignación incrementan la inestabilidad política. Recordemos a los Chalecos Amarillos franceses o los mensajes de tiza en Bélgica. 


“Hacer América grande” y volver a la “Gran” Bretaña manifiestan ambiciones egoístas. Los Republicanos estadounidenses y los Conservadores británicos piensan estar más seguros si cierran sus fronteras. Eso no es evangélico. Internacionalidad, interrelaciones, interdependencia, interconfesionalidad, diálogo interreligioso e interacción son importantes hoy, no individualismo, independencia y aislamiento.