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What Does 'Brexit' Mean For Scotland And Ireland?09:46Download

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A man walks past a mural marking unionist territory on May 4, 2016 in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. The city of Londonderry is situated on the border between the north and south of Ireland. (Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)MoreCloseclosemore
A man walks past a mural marking unionist territory on May 4, 2016 in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. The city of Londonderry is situated on the border between the north and south of Ireland. (Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Unlike most of the rest of Britain, Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain part of the European Union last week, and the so-called "Brexit" is now prompting calls for another Scottish independence vote and also a vote to unify Ireland.

Former BBC Radio Scotland presenter Tom Morton tells Here & Now's Robin Young that two years ago he voted against Scottish independence, now he'd like a chance to vote for it because he wants to remain part of the E.U.

And Seamus Coyle, who is a city councilor in the Republic of Ireland's border region with Northern Ireland, tells Robin that the E.U. "has been very good to Ireland" and re-establishing E.U. checkpoints along the border would remind residents of the Troubles.

Interview Highlights: Tom Morton and Seamus Coyle

Tom Morton

Two years ago, Tom Morton was against Scottish independence. Are you now for leaving the U.K.?

Well I think the shocking news from England means that really, I don't think there's any alternative. If we are to maintain a social democracy in Scotland, which is liberal, outgoing, welcoming to migrants, and which believes in social justice. I don't really see any alternative. What's happened in England is the establishment for the long-term of an extreme, right-wing racist government. And I don't think people in Scotland want anything to do with that.

On the intersection between immigration and the economy:

It does have to do with the economy. But let's face it. There are terrible risks to an independent Scotland, economically. The price of oil has gone through the floor. We have all kinds of issues. We just don't know what's going to happen in the future. But it seems, I think, to most people in Scotland that staying within the European Union is our right. And what's going to happen, tomorrow in fact, is that Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister, is going to Europe to discuss the possibilities of staying within the European Union. And in fact, Michael D Higgins, from the Republic of Ireland is engaged in discussions with her too.

What's happened in England is the establishment for the long-term of an extreme, right-wing racist government. And I don't think people in Scotland want anything to do with that.

Tom Morton

If you travel throughout Scotland, you'll continually see that the stars of Europe on road signs to do with projects that have been funded or part-funded by the European Union. And that's true in England as well. Places of Cornwall, which voted 70 percent to 30 percent to leave the European union, Cornwall is heavily dependent on European funding. But in terms of what's happened in England especially, this kind of reaction that we've seen is a really a kind of anti-politics. It's post-truth politics. It's the kind of thing that you're seeing in the USA in terms of a hugely emotional reaction, which against all the evidence may vote for Donald Trump as president. It's exactly that kind of knee-jerk, anti-intellectual reaction, and what we're seeing too is a rejection of traditional politics in the form of the Labour Party. As I speak, the Labour Party, the traditional opposition to the Conservatives is in total meltdown, and we are looking at a new leadership election there.

Do you see the irony, that having survived the nationalist yearnings from Scotland and northern Ireland, the U.K. is now succumbing to the nationalism of the English?

Well, yeah. I think there is an element of Little England nationalism happening here. It's understandable in some ways. We've seen the almost complete destruction in the old industrial areas like Newcastle and Sunderland, who stunningly reversed expectations and voted to leave the European Union. In those places, heavy industry has gone and disappeared tremendous problems with unemployment and poverty.

So you understand some of that feeling?

I totally understand it. It's a terrible lesson from history which hasn't been learned. That has been blamed on immigration. People are saying, oh these people are coming in from the European Union countries and taking our jobs. It’s really not the case. I have to admit that Scotland is slightly isolated from the immigration situation because we are farther away. We are very farther away, we are very far north, and cold and wet. That might be the case that there are other places in the United Kingdom that people would rather stay in.

People are saying, oh these people are coming in from the European Union countries and taking our jobs. It’s really not the case.

Tom Morton

Seamus Coyle

On the consequences of Brexit for The Republic of Ireland:

This has huge consequences. I live within a short distance of the border. We have 500 kilometers of border here between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, which is now and indeed when the UK exits the EU. This will be the only land border with the EU so the changes are going to be massive.

On what the border means to him:

We are now very much in the land of the unknown. Our agricultural exports are absolutely enormous. We here in County Monaghan, 84 percent of poultry exports go the U.K. Fifty-two percent of beef, 60 percent of dairy products go into the UK. And Northern Ireland has voted very much to remain within the U.K.

What do you think about what we're hearing in Northern Ireland about having a referendum to join Ireland?

I believe the Prime Minister Cameron made a huge mistake in 2012 in guaranteeing the referendum. I think when you hold a referendum, while it is a democratic and it is the greatest act of democracy a nation can hold, I believe the timing must be right.

Seamus Coyle

Yes, indeed. Indeed, as a Republican and member of the xenophile party here, and a nationalist, I very much desire a united Ireland, and indeed that is one of our founding principles. Indeed as do all Irish people, and indeed all nationalists. However, I do believe the demand from the Shin Fin party for an immediate referendum and a border poll is indeed opportunistic. I believe the Prime Minister Cameron made a huge mistake in 2012 in guaranteeing the referendum. I think when you hold a referendum, while it is a democratic and it is the greatest act of democracy a nation can hold, I believe the timing must be right.

On whether the Northern Ireland vote on leaving Britain should wait until heads are cooler:

No, I certainly would like to see that within a period of years. I'm certain to see a united Ireland in my lifetime because self-determination is the greatest hope of all people. But I believe, and you used the words there, cooling of heads. We must allow that to happen. We must have a very rational debate. We must put all of the structure to underpin a united Ireland in place.

On Ireland's potential isolation as a result of Brexit:

There is no doubt that we will certainly be in a new situation. All in all this could be the disintegration of the UK. This could be the disintegration of Europe if we're not very careful.

Guests

Tom Morton, former BBC Radio Scotland presenter. He tweets @thebeatcroft.

Seamus Coyle, councilor in Monaghan County, Republic of Ireland.

This segment aired on June 27, 2016.

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