The Guardian

'Un big mess' – how the rest of Europe views Brexit

Seven correspondents report on how the UK’s political upheaval has affected its image on the continent

Ireland

The comment slipped out after a long, geeky conversation about Brexit’s potential impact on Ireland’s trade, employment, banking and consumer confidence. “You know, we’d almost forgotten how good it felt to stick it to the Brits.” The speaker shrugged and grinned. “Old habits.”

This was not a grizzled Sinn Féin party activist in west Belfast, but a young business professional in a cafe near the Dublin headquarters of Facebook and Google – the heart of new, globalised Ireland. Yet here was an admission – a declaration – of schadenfreude echoing down from a centuries-old resentment at the colonial master who came and stayed for 800 years.

I hear it from officials, shopkeepers, academics, truckers, artists and students: the Irish government is right to insist on the backstop, and if that gives Britain’s ruling class an aneurysm, well, grab some popcorn and enjoy the spectacle.

A tendency to enjoy the neighbour’s discomfort had faded in recent decades. John Major and Tony Blair earned respect for the Good Friday agreement. The Irish economy took off. There was a sense of a fresh start in Anglo-Irish relations.

In the centenary year of Ireland’s war of independence, Brexit seems to have turned the clock back.

But it hasn’t, not really. There is some relish at Westminster’s convulsions – the parliament of Oliver Cromwell reduced to Benny Hill. But theoverwhelming emotion is worry that Britain will crash out of the EU without

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