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A throwback to our unified days of 1920 could be the right solution in order to deal with Brexit's fallout

letter of the day: eu referendum

Published 04/07/2016

As one of the 16 million who voted for Remain, I have been appalled by the referendum result. The question now is what to do? England might have cast its lot with "yesterday", but Ulster seems to have a different dream.

As an Englishman, I know I need to tread carefully, so I offer the following with some trepidation, but in the hope that it will be treated in the spirit it is intended - as a contribution to the debate about Ulster's European future.

I have been thinking about the history of Great Britain, Germany and the EU. West Germany subsumed the old DDR into its federal structure and the new, enlarged Germany was accepted without demur as a member of the EU. The argument was that it was German reunification - not a new state joining.

In 1920, Scotland, the 26 counties of Eire and the six of Ulster were all part of the UK. A reunification of Scotland, Ulster and Eire would be a reunification of parts of the old British state - reunification of two parts with a third that happens to be a member of the EU.

This would bypass Spanish and French opposition to breakaway states gaining easy entry to the EU, for neither Corsica nor Catalonia have options of a reunification pathway.

I recognise that this could be anathema to many Ulstermen, but I would tentatively suggest that it does have some attractions, for the two communities each gain something.

The loyalists get immediate support from millions of Protestant Scots, so undermining their fear of Catholic domination, while the republicans and nationalists obtain a united Ireland.

For Scotland, it gives continued membership of the EU without having to face Spanish and French opposition and for Eire it gives the dream of a united Ireland. The federation would, of course, have to be carefully crafted, but that should not be beyond the wit of skilled constitutional lawyers and politicians if continued EU membership was the wish of the two current UK nations and Eire wanted a united Ireland.

This is a back-of-the-envelope idea of a federation of three polities. It is not fleshed out, but if the Germans could do it and the people of Ulster voted to remain in the EU, then even the outlandish, out-of-the box ideas might have legs.

M J ASHMORE

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