Harold Pinter in his Nobel Acceptance speech entitled ‘Art, Truth and Politics’ (2005) lamented the contemporary power-crazy politicians’ conscious invocation of the tapestry of lies. Pamphlet war, initiated by the burgeoning print-media in the early decades of the 17th century may be accepted as the beginning of the Post-truth politics. However, 2016 US Presidential Election and 2016 Brexit Referendum gave currency to the term, with Oxford Dictionary declaring ‘Post Truth’ as its “international word of the year”.
On 23rd June 2016, The European Union had 52 percent of the UK electorate voting to leave it in the Brexit Referendum while 48 percent voted to remain. The summer of 2017 geared up for negotiations between the UK and the EU, as per the withdrawal proceedings stated on Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. This, however, had its initiation on 29 March 2017, when Prime Minister Theresa May handed over the so-called notification letter to Donald Tusk, the European Council President. Her perceptions paved the way for a future that would facilitate free trade between Europe and Britain rather than supporting the concept of mere membership to the single market.
If one decides to keep aside the implications that Brexit caused internationally, then one might also be drawn towards the dramatic impacts it might have for the future of the UK as a unitary state. With 55 percent of Northern Ireland and 62 percent of Scotland voting to remain in the EU, it is highly implicative of the divide between the two regions. It also strongly emphasizes the probabilities of Scottish independence.
After the results were out, opinion polls in Scotland showed that the preference for independence has invariably increased to 59 percent. According to analysts, Brexit thus could lead to the re-establishment of conflict in Northern Ireland, restricting cross- border relations with Ireland and also tending to resolve the Belfast Agreement. Brexit indeed has focused on the gap between Scottish and Northern Irish preferences to remain in the EU, with UK’s vote of leaving it.
UK’s decision of leaving the EU has led to the segregation of age groups and regions, further initiating a break-up of the UK. It, however, was considered as a “revolution” by Harold James “in a country with little experience of revolutions”. For some analysts, Brexit would take up to five years to find some suitable arrangements for Ireland, the UK and Northern Ireland. The expected results could be:
1. Despite UK’s leaving the EU, it still happens to be a part of the Single Market, thus not restricting the free movement and travel between Ireland and the UK.
2. A cautionary proviso states Ireland and the UK can maintain their Free Trade Area dated since 1935.
3. Scotland and/or Northern Ireland can either remain in EU or stay in the UK. They can also decide to re-join EU but have to do it fast.
On 15th January 2019, in a rather historic takedown, MPs voted against Theresa May’s Brexit deal. The vote was 230 to 202 against Brexit. After days of debates, discussions and negotiations, the MPs decided that Brexit was indeed a bad idea.
The EU anticipates that by framing exceptions for UK, it actually sets an exemplar for other countries who might leave behind “contamination”. With its impact on UK being strong, Brexit also happens to affect Ireland, thereby strengthening the Irish relations with Scotland, given the status of Ireland in EU. Time might gradually reveal that whether the EU would make allow free trade for Northern Ireland and Ireland, despite Brexit.
Undoubtedly, what one can surmise from the Brexit negotiations is that after years of economic turbulence, particularly faced by Ireland and UK, there are more unsettling times lying ahead. For more thoughtful minds, Brexit can also be regarded as the culmination of the racial nationalism, long present in the discourse of Englishness. The demand, that Englishness could survive only by refusing the imperial beyond any space in the territory, has perhaps culminated in the Referendum.
By Debashrita Day