Critics said she frittered away unprecedented levels of goodwill and made strategic errors over Brexit. “Her intransigence, petulance, arrogance, lack of generosity, and political myopia have been catastrophic for unionism,” tweeted Deirdre Heenan, a social policy professor at Ulster University.
Northern Ireland’s founders viewed the link between religion and constitutional preference as essentially fixed at birth. Ninety years later, 21st-century unionists saw those two issues detach to an extent which would have astonished their forefathers. By 2016 there was significant Catholic support for the union; not enthusiastic, certainly not flag-waving, and rooted in self-interest. They didn’t want to give up the free health care of the National Health Service or to risk well-paid public-sector jobs. Since the Good Friday Agreement (gfa) of 1998, which brought peace and set up a devolved government in Belfast, residents could be legally Irish, enjoying taxpayer support for Irish sports, culture and language while territorially within the uk.
And then unionism’s leaders blew it. In five years Arlene Foster, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), has arguably done more to advance Irish unity than the 72-year-old Gerry Adams, former head of Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Irish Republican Army (ira).
And then there is Boris.
It’s not when Boris Johnson is lying that you have to have to worry. If he’s lying, that just means he’s still breathing. No, the real danger sign is the gibbering. It’s what he does when he can’t be bothered to think up a lie. [emphasis added]
Third, Johnson’s character. The prime minister approaches truth the way a toddler handles broccoli. He understands the idea that it contains some goodness, but it will touch his lips only if a higher authority compels it there.