PEOPLE who are enthusiasts for  a border poll are sometimes seen as dreamers – all tangled up in romantic cobwebs instead of addressing people’s ‘real’ needs.
I’ve always found this a limp judgement, because it suggests that the so-called dreamers aren’t capable of dealing with practical matters as well as the national question. Sorry, guys. Most of us can whistle and use a urinal or toilet stall at the same time. (Okay, Virginia – walk and chew gum at the same time; that polite enough?)
In fact,  constitutional matters and bread-and-butter matters tend to link. For example, thanks to the Protocol element in the British  EU Withdrawal deal, exports from NEI to the south are up 52 per cent and exports from the south to NEI are up 28 per cent. This shows the economic logic behind the argument for political unity, which is probably why the good Lord Frost, along with his unionist chums, isn’t a bit happy.
But we need to raise our eyes not just to national level but to international level. The reason? Floods, fires, erupting volcanoes  – our planet is sick. Very sick. The climate crisis means our world's health  is at existential risk and only international solidarity can save it.  Hence COP26 in Glasgow this week.
And the task facing those gathered in Glasgow is a hyper-urgent one. Even Boris Johnson appears to get it: he has compared the state of our planet as being similar to that of a team which goes in at half-time 5-1 down. The world can be saved but only by an immediate,  concerted, globe-wide effort.
Which brings us to the UK-France fishing dispute. The row began when the UK and Jersey refused to grant fishing rights to dozens of French boats. The French President, Emmanuel Macron, who has one eye on the French Presidential election next year, has been outspoken. “When you spend years negotiating a treaty and then a few months later you do the opposite of what was decided on, the aspects that suit you the least, it is not a big sign of your credibility,” he said.
 France are convinced that this is another example, just as with the Protocol, of Britain being prepared to toss overboard just about any post-Brexit agreements it has made with the EU or anybody else. Ireland felt the impact of this cavalier attitude first, now the French are under a similar pressure.
 In the case of the Protocol, what is at stake? Some extra checks on goods travelling from Britain to Ireland. And what’s at stake in the UK-EU row? According to the President of Calais and Bologne, just forty fishing boats. So why is the UK throwing a hissy-fit on the international stage when the world’s attention should be focused on COP26 in Glasgow? It’s because that’s what Johnson does best. The big dramatic gesture, the big side-of-a-bus promise, all of it wrapped up with a one-of-the-boys metaphor and, if possible, a Latin tag to finish. Britain against France, on whom the British have always looked down, and Britain against the EU, from whose clutches the UK has just escaped. Johnson knows their game and would claim the UK is being made to pay for leaving the EU.
During the Cultural Revolution in Maoist China, the idea of constant revolution was favoured by the authorities – constant turmoil, constant fear and anger on all sides. Johnson and his Brexiteers are keeping Britain in a similar state of churn. But Johnson appears to have forgotten one thing, despite his 5-1 at half-time metaphor. It will take a sustained, disciplined and united effort by all those states attending COP26 if the world is to be saved – the very qualities that Britain has shown it’s short on.
 “Be the change you want to see happen,” educator Arleen Lorrance once  told herself and the world. Boris Johnson swats away any such notion, relying instead on swagger, lame jokes and bluster. For the sake of the planet, let’s hope the other countries attending COP26 will control those lunatics who don’t care if the house burns down.