WHEN Norman Tebbit says “it looks more likely than not that in the not too distant future” there’ll be a United Ireland, you know a border poll is on its way. There’s growing certainty that Irish unity is becoming an historic inevitability.

Tebbit’s comments in the Belfast Telegraph, Northern Ireland’s leading newspaper, matter. Mrs Thatcher’s trusty aide - a man whose wife was gravely injured in the IRA’s Brighton Bomb attack - is an implacable foe of Irish Republicanism. He’d make no such comments unless fates were aligning.

The Labour Party has also made clear its not going to stand in the way of any border poll. That’s in marked contrast to Labour’s intransigent position on a future Scottish independence referendum. The two postures seem entirely incompatible. How can one part of Britain, where a large proportion of the population has ambitions to leave the union, be treated differently to another part where similarly large numbers have the same ambitions?

With the Conservatives imploding amid the economic chaos unleashed by the new Liz Truss government, there’s every chance Keir Starmer will be Prime Minister in the near future. So would Labour in power be able to maintain the almost impossible position of allowing a Northern Ireland border poll, but refusing indyref2? It seems unlikely - especially if Starmer wishes to portray himself as fair and even handed. Tebbit noted that what happens in Ireland may have an “effect” on “Scottish nationalism”.


To read the rest of this analysis, sign up to The Herald's political newsletter, Unspun, for FREE and get unrivalled political analysis in your inbox every day at 6pm.

Sign up here.