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Theresa May’s Government and the Northern Ireland Issue : Brexit as the end of the consociational and postnational illusions

Philippe Cauvet
p. 103-121

Résumé

The Northern Irish component of the Brexit issue Theresa May’s government is confronted with reveals two inter-related aspects of what could be called the Good Friday Agreement’s democratic deficit. As a comprehensive settlement, the Good Friday Agreement’s objective was to establish new institutions in Ireland, taking into account the « totality of relationships » in order to obtain the consent of all major actors in the conflict. To do so, it drew its inspiration from two theoretical models of democracy, post-national and consociational, but these two forms of democratic changes implemented through the GFA have proved to be far from sufficient to actually transform the Northern Irish question. The ongoing controversy on the future status of Northern Ireland and the Irish Border post-Brexit shows that the island of Ireland has remained a highly contested democratic space. The consociational power-sharing institutions established in Northern Ireland in 1998 and the limited post-national innovations contained in the GFA have had very little or no transformative impact. This double democratic deficit of the GFA is an obstacle to any possible Brexit deal Theresa May’s government could negociate with Brussels.

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Extrait du texte

Ce document sera publié en ligne en texte intégral en novembre 2018.

Plan

Introduction
Brexit and the limits of Northern Irish consociational democracy : is there a majority in Northern Ireland ?
What democratic space does Northern Ireland belong to ? Brexit, the GFA, referenda and the limits of postnational democracy.
Conclusion

Aperçu du texte

Introduction

Since the official results of the June 2016 Brexit referendum were released, followed by David Cameron’s resignation, many commentators and analysts have expressed doubts on the capacity of Theresa May’s government to preserve the unity of the United Kingdom as a state. In addition to the Scottish question, one of the central issues raised by the U.K.’s decision to leave the European Union is related to the status of Northern Ireland as defined in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. Since Europe is seen as a positive contributor, economically and politically, to the transformation of the Northern Irish question during the Peace Process, it is argued that the U.K.’s withdrawal from the E.U. could seriously threaten the peace agreement. A typical example of this kind of argument can be found for instance in the report published by the House of Lords in late 2016:

The positive role played by the EU in relation to the peace process can be encapsulated in four areas: the safeguard...

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Pour citer cet article

Référence papier

Philippe Cauvet, « Theresa May’s Government and the Northern Ireland Issue : Brexit as the end of the consociational and postnational illusions », Observatoire de la société britannique, 21 | -1, 103-121.

Référence électronique

Philippe Cauvet, « Theresa May’s Government and the Northern Ireland Issue : Brexit as the end of the consociational and postnational illusions », Observatoire de la société britannique [En ligne], 21 | 2018, mis en ligne le 01 novembre 2018, consulté le 19 juillet 2018. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/osb/2167 ; DOI : 10.4000/osb.2167

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Auteur

Philippe Cauvet

Maître de Conféreences en Civilisation britannique à l'Université de Poitiers

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Droits d’auteur

Observatoire de la société britannique

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