Perfidious Albion, is latin translating as ‘Treacherous England.’
It’s happened to us before, betrayal by Prime minister David Lloyd George in 1921 was the most unexpected treachery. His ultimatum to Michael Collins and the Irish delegation was simple, if they didn’t sign for the 26 counties rather than the 32 they were expecting, England would be at war with Ireland in three days. What an ultimatum to be faced with. It’s no wonder Collins wrote in his diary that same night that he had just signed his death warrant. There was no choice but to sign. He was assassinated a few months later during the Irish Civil War which Lloyd George had triggered.
I have incredible English friends whom I love dearly and lived and worked with for 9 years, but sadly the politics of the country has never been reliable towards Ireland. Britain has a habit of changing the goal posts at the last minute and in my experience working in schools and colleges in the UK, the average Englishman is blissfully unaware of either Lloyd George’s ultimatum or any general history with Ireland, while the Republic of Ireland has a history of having to gear up and deal with the aftermath. If the North of Ireland protocol is dropped, farmers both in the North and South will suffer, mainland Britain will suffer; universities and the economy will suffer, SMEs already barely coping with the rise in fees and fuel costs will suffer. I daren’t think how many small businesses who battled the pandemic and won, will now close their doors permanently.
In Ireland our language (by that I mean use of English) has cleverly reflected our long held view of who is responsible. We tend not to refer to ‘The British’ as the problem preferring instead to directly name the culprits, ‘The English’ and more recently The English Conservatives.’ In fact, my generation, parents and grandparents were always careful to say, ‘The English,’ Why? Quite simply because England [London] is where the decisions were made particularly post WWI, we knew full well the British didn’t know half the goings on and post WWI we became keenly aware of the the bond we shared with our Welsh and Scottish friends. All Celts together.
In the light of all that happened in later years and the monumental effort made by both Protestant and Catholics in Northern Ireland to overcome immense loss and grief to support and uphold the peace process, the Conservative party has, it seems, regressed to 19th Century empirical thinking under the impression that they have the power and the right to amend the protocol that will reintroduce a the semblance of a border and would be an insult to the people of Ireland North and South. From the 1990s till recently, I was always keen to point out when asked, that the Irish don’t blame the British of today for the actions their ancestors.
It seems English politicians are determined to prove me wrong.