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The Irish border seems to be the biggest obstacle to establishing an agreement on Brexit and we've seen considerable talk about hard and soft borders. There are two potential solutions that I have NOT seen discussed and I just want to float them here to see if there is any chance that either of them might present a possible solution. I expect both would be seen as somewhat "radical" in the sense of being a rather big step from the status quo but my knowledge of Ireland is far too meager for the reasons to be obvious to me.

Solution 1: Have Northern Ireland merge with the Irish Republic so that the entire island is the Irish Republic. In that scenario, ALL of Ireland would be in the EU and the Irish border would disappear. Great Britain, comprising England, Scotland and Wales, would be free to leave the EU and Ireland could stay in the EU.

Solution 2: Have all of Ireland join the UK on the same basis as England, Scotland and Wales. All of the enlarged UK could then leave the EU together. (Mind you, I could imagine this giving a lot of ammunition to the people who want a second referendum and if that happened, perhaps Brexit would be abandoned and the enlarged UK would remain in the EU after all. After all, the people in the Irish Republic could rightfully say that they weren't even consulted about Brexit.)

I'd be very curious to know whether a reunification of Ireland - either as a single Republic or as part of the UK - is even imaginable or are the differences still so strong that it's unthinkable? From what I hear, the inter-Irish border is all but invisible since the Troubles ended and the two parts of the island get along fine. I also sense that the Catholic and Protestant Churches are far less influential than they were; after all, the Republic even permits abortion now, something that was unthinkable just a few years ago. The violence has either stopped entirely or declined a very great deal. The current prime minister in the Republic is apparently gay and only half-Irish, another sign that attitudes in the Republic have greatly changed.

Could Protestants in the North be comfortable in an enlarged Republic? Would they need certain safeguards to even consider such a move? I would certainly not want to make any such move with the consent of a majority of those in Northern Ireland.

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    There are a lot of similar questions in northern-ireland. – Martin Schröder Jan 26 at 13:48
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    I just read a news article about an English politician suggesting that the republic leave the EU and rejoin the UK. The article asserted that polls show 92% of the republic's citizens (or residents, with that figure it doesn't matter which) in favor of its membership in the EU. For an English politician to suggest that Ireland rejoin the UK is hopelessly arrogant and ignorant of both current political sentiment and Irish history. – phoog Jan 26 at 21:35
  • See politics.stackexchange.com/a/34470/13141 for a short explanation of the relevant history. – Paul Johnson Jan 27 at 15:02
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    "the inter-Irish border is all but invisible since the Troubles ended and the two parts of the island get along fine." In some ways that's true. But you go on to say that "the Republic even permits abortion now" and I should point out that (despite what you might assume, with it being part of the UK) Northern Ireland does not currently permit abortion. – owjburnham Jan 27 at 18:04
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    @Henry - 'the two parts of the island get along fine' - Northern Ireland is still a deeply divided society and however democratically obtained, a united Ireland would almost certainly lead to extensive bloodshed:- irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/… – Dave Gremlin Jan 30 at 13:55
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Solution 1: Have Northern Ireland merge with the Irish Republic so that the entire island is the Irish Republic. In that scenario, ALL of Ireland would be in the EU and the Irish border would disappear. Great Britain, comprising England, Scotland and Wales, would be free to leave the EU and Ireland could stay in the EU.

This is possible under the Good Friday Agreement known as 'United Ireland', however, it requires a majority of the people of Northern Ireland express this democratically (e.g. according to article 3.1 of the Constitution of Ireland). For more information on the Irish reunification procedure, see this article by thejournal.ie.

Personally, I think it is possible that this might happen in the long term, but then I'm thinking multiple years. It's also not something that the UK can easily ask for to extend the article 50 deadline because it requires asking what the people of Northern Ireland want. If they want to stay part of the UK, this isn't a solution.

Furthermore, the UK sees Northern Ireland as part of its territory, so it won't want to give it up just like that.

Solution 2: Have all of Ireland join the UK on the same basis as England, Scotland and Wales. All of the enlarged UK could then leave the EU together. (Mind you, I could imagine this giving a lot of ammunition to the people who want a second referendum and if that happened, perhaps Brexit would be abandoned and the enlarged UK would remain in the EU after all. After all, the people in the Irish Republic could rightfully say that they weren't even consulted about Brexit.)

Obviously, the Irish people won't agree with this. The UK has no right to take Ireland out and Ireland will not be persuaded to leave the EU on its own.

According to the Wikipedia page titled Euroscepticism in the Republic of Ireland:

Euroscepticism is a minority view in Ireland, with opinion polls between 2016 and 2018 indicating upwards of 90% support for continued membership of the European Union (EU).

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    The DUP, who hold 10 of NI's seats in parliament, are absolutely opposed to NI joining the Irish Republic. Nothing will change their minds on this, and they supply the government's majority, so that idea is a non-starter. – John Dallman Jan 26 at 9:44
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    @JohnDallman yea, and I bet the Conservative and Unionist Party wouldn't want that either, and they have many more seats. ;) – JJJ Jan 26 at 9:54
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    @eggyal tell me about it, they even did a referendum to leave the European Union, I mean, who does that? – JJJ Jan 27 at 5:47
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    @eggyal they had that referendum because they predicted a win by a wide enough margin that it would slow Scottish nationalism, which it seemed to do up to the Brexit referendum – Caleth Jan 28 at 10:26
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    @Caleth this is the thing that I regard as an extraordinary miscalculation or piece of arrogance; it looks like the Conservatives interpreted an extremely narrow win on historic huge turnout as a success, despite the polls moving over time in a pro-independence direction. – pjc50 Jan 28 at 16:54

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