History from The Edge


The last update to this page was in October 2018, when Mrs. May was trying to convince us all that there would be no hard border between Eire and northern Ireland.  In that update, I quoted verbatim her assertion to Andrew Marr: As the UK Government, we remain committed to doing everything we can to ensure no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

            I pointed out that Mrs. May was not necessarily lying, but that to be doing all possible implied the possibility of a solution. But by rejecting the EU’s proposal of making Northern Ireland a ‘special case’ (an enormous concession, by the way) she ensured no solution.

I will leave it to the reader to conclude whether or not Boris Johnson is now in a similar  game of words. There is no doubt that Northern Ireland is now being treated as a special case. As Farage points out, he has now accepted that enormous concession, but when is a border not a border? The border is now down the middle of the Irish Sea. Logically, the check points will be  at Fishguard, Holyhead, Liverpool, or whichever other U.K. port sends goods to, or receives goods from Eire.

Johnson insists that shippers will not be required to fill in declaration forms, nor will there be no checks. So the question is about how is it to be ensured that these manifests are truthful? How will we know that illicit goods or, for that matter, smuggled people are not part of cargoes passing across the Irish land-border from Europe in transit to Eire or the U.K. ?  The reader can be left to ponder this one.

To complicate matters further, the approaching General Election seems to be about different things to different political parties. All bar one are agreed about one thing: it is about Brexit. The SNP, Plaid, Greens and Lib Dems want to stop Brexit in its tracks. The Conservatives want a mandate to accept Johnson’s Deal, whilst the Brexit Party want to reject it and slide us out into a world the shape of which nobody really agrees on, except that it would make us all poorer. Brexiteers believe it would make us all prouder and more free.  Labour believes that another deal is possible, although there is an underlying belief that the best deal is the one we already have. Something else the reader might like to ponder.

Around this time last year I sent Mr. Corbyn an email, which I posted on Facebook, urging him to declare for Remain and go down in History as the saviour of the United Kingdom. I still believe that, had he done so, he would now be safe in Number Ten making good a lot of damage and implementing large portions of a very sound domestic program.  The scars of the Brexit adventure would not be healed, but the process would have commenced. That process would certainly included a long overdue debate about the future political shape of these islands.

It would take a bolder forecaster than me to predict the outcome of the election of 12th December 2019, for it will be about different things for different voters. For many it will be about austerity, infrastructure, poverty, homelessness or business, but the overarching issue of Brexit dominates all in these final days. It will be hotly contested in a limited number of marginal constituencies. It will be confounded by the question of how many Leave voters will forsake Labour, and how many Remain voters will choose to turn against the Conservatives. Neither can it be predicted whether Farage’s withdrawal from the contest in Conservative seats will make a difference, or whether other cats will jump out of the bag during the coming hours. In Political terms there is an eternity between now and December 12th. Wise gamblers will keep their money in their pockets.

Thank you for reading this page.


© Ken Davies December, 2019



Here is a list of my published historical articles in chronological order of publication:

Ffynnongroyw in 1901: a proletarian village at a linguistic crossroads.
Flintshire Historical Society Journal Vol. 2008

Using the data from the 1901 census, this article shows how the language people speak is related to their origins and occupations.

Life Aboard Two Latter Day Chester River Coasters
The Liverpool Maritime Research Society Bulletin  Vol. 51 March & Vol.52 June 2008 

Also in Maritime Wales/Cymru a’r Mor Number Thirty 2009
A very personal account of life aboard two small ships in the late fifties and early sixties.

 Trade between the Mersey, Dee and Clwyd estuaries in 1891
The Liverpool Maritime Research Society Bulletin Vol. 54 No.3 December 2010

Maritime Activity and the Flintshire Economy in 1891
 Flintshire Historical Society Journal Vol. 39 2012.

Shipping in the Dee and Clwyd  Estuaries on Census Night, 5th  April, 1891
Maritime Wales/Cymru a’r Mor Number Thirty Two 2011

 All three of the above articles use data from the 1891 census to give a snapshot of shipping in the two estuaries and its relationship to the local economy.

The lost three months of the schooner James of Llanelli – a maritime mystery
Maritime Wales/Cymru a’r Mor Number Thirty Six 2015.

Do not hesitate to make contact if you are interested in any of the above.


Ken Davies