This is it. This is the end of the UK and
the start of the Republic of Ireland. God, in several weeks time,
the EU starts there. Correct. The border right now – it’s not real.
We don’t acknowledge it. Nobody acknowledges it. It’s division. It’s physical division.
It affects everyday lives. Irishman, Scotsman and an
Englishman go into a bar. The Englishman wanted to leave.
So everybody had to leave. We’re starting a border
road trip on an industrial estate
on the edge of Derry. Not because of the city’s
history of violence or its regeneration since
the end of the so-called Troubles. But because right now Derry’s
producing some great music. [Music] There are reckoned to be as many
as 50 active young guitar bands here. All part of a generation that
obviously needs to express itself. Rock and roll, baby. Sausage rolls. We used to be called The Blue Jeans,
which was a bit of a shite name. I’m trying to be delicate here.
It has a specific meaning here, doesn’t it? It’s like a supergrass or
an informant here, so … [It’s] punishable by death. It still is. So the interesting thing is
I come from the land of Ed Sheeran and George Ezra,
[Laughter] where music doesn’t really have
a social or political aspect much. Being from here, people are naturally,
sort of, more politically-minded. If you have a platform,
you may as well use it for something good
and like, say something. You’re all, sort of,
post-Good Friday agreement kids. Yeah. There’s a remembrance
of that in there, right? It’s just living here. No matter when we were born,
even if we were born after, we’re still living
with the effects of it. I just wonder, partly with that in mind,
where Brexit sits in your head? Well, I was 16.
You know what I mean? So I obviously couldn’t vote. We have to deal with the
repercussions of it and we had no say. [It’s] Kind of Irish history
repeating itself in that there’s a decision
made in England and we’re just sort of
taken along with it. It’s what it’ll do
to here as well. I’m not getting stopped everywhere
I go and I’m happy about that. My brother, like, do you know
what I mean? Uncles and cousins or aunties
or whatever, getting killed. You know what I mean? Getting caught up
in riots and I’m glad that’s … Do you know what I mean? And if that’s on the line than …
Fuck Brexit, like. The lyrics to Bombscare,
the song … And I don’t know whether
this is me sort of overinterpreting it, but there … There seems to be sort of
a warning in that song? [Music] What hits you all
the time here is this sense of the past sitting
next to the future. I mean, this is historically
a sort of loyalist enclave, it’s got great big murals
on the street and right in between the murals is a nursery. And people are just
dropping their kids off, it’s just an everyday thing
but for an outsider like me, I just feel like the
weight of history is everywhere. Why are you just standing
there looking at that? Do you worry about
any of that coming back? My girlfriend is protestant so,
I’m Catholic, so that doesn’t bother me
but I am a bit scared of that, especially if
there is a hard border. I’m praying to God
that it doesn’t come back. Especially for my child’s sake. Right fellas.
– Thank you, sir. Excuse me, we’re stupid English people.
We’re in Derry … – We love stupid English people. I wonder what you
think about Brexit. Oh god …
Oh my god, I’m terrified. It’s all your fault.
[Laughter] It really is, isn’t it? It – right. You just need
to clean it up. [Laughs] I’m terrified, to be honest. I think that the most
terrifying thing for us with Brexit is the talk
of a hard border. That’s where things could go
horribly wrong for here, because it’s just like history
is going to repeat itself. With [the] Troubles? With Troubles, yeah. Oh, absolutely.
– Yeah, I’m scared. Obviously I didn’t live through
the Troubles but my parents did. I’m not a bitter person
and I think you’d be surprised at how
little bitter people there are. Most people just want to
forget about it and move on. And I don’t know … Everything’s confusing.
I have my own business as well, and I’m scared
about that, too. What’s your business? I make headdresses.
Sass and Halo. [Laughter] The stupidest thing that could ever
be put in place is a hard border. I don’t know why anybody
would think that’s a good idea. I mean I voted remain, you know …
But I’m sorry. [Laughter] Even if people’s worst fears
about what Brexit means for Northern Ireland
don’t materialise, something still happened here,
which is a breach of trust. And a sort of casual
breach of trust. [Music] We’re now driving all the way to Newry,
where Connor Patterson runs a business development agency that’s
transformed the local economy over the 20 years since the
Good Friday agreement. It’s good, this. The Full Irish restaurant.
A Piece of Cake bakery. Waterproof dog beds. Electric gates. You have everything here. The removal of the border
as a barrier to the movement of people and goods
liberated Newry. Connor offers to take us to
an old customs checkpoint … Who’s driving?
– I’m driving. … to show us the reality
behind all the talk of customs, tariffs
and differentiation. This is the scale of what has been
glibly described as trade facilitation. Alright, so let’s not mess about.
This is what a hard border looks like. Yeah. Will we go on here
and have a look around. Just stand and look at it.
Look at the scale of it. Vehicles parked up here
in their hundreds, and this is back in 1988
when we had very little cross-border trade. They had to reverse
into these bays and customs officers
would physically check to ensure that what the trader
said was in those containers actually was what
was in those containers. And, if there’s a question
of non-compliance, which is the history of this region,
it isn’t just about smuggling, it’s about rolling corruption
of wider society where society opts out from
compliance with the state. That’s what happened here.
People didn’t pay their TV licenses. Didn’t apply for
planning permission. It’s full of ghosts, innit,
this place? But consigned to a past that we
thought we had left behind for good. The creation of the single market
in 1992 made this place redundant. Now, with the growing possibility
of leaving the EU with no deal, no one knows what kind of
border checks will need to come back. My biggest fear is
economic insecurity, right? I lived through a period
in the first half of my life when my father
was unemployed. I had to leave here
to go to England. The risk, for us, is that we lose
the advances that we’ve made and that people
are economically excluded. That creates a cycle
of radicalisation. Well, this is the post-single market
economic miracle here, innit? Much as lefties like me are
a bit sniffy about shopping malls. It’s this idea, you know, that,
I don’t know, since Thatcher or something,
everything went wrong and that’s why we got Brexit. Well, do you know what? In the wake of Thatcher –
and it wasn’t because of Thatcher – but a lot of things went right. In the not too recent past
unemployment here was 30%. That’s worth bearing in mind. When there was a border. [Music] This is the great, sort of,
tangle of tiny little roads all around the border.
It’s kind of what border country is. This feels like a much more sort of
European scene, everything’s yellow. So we’re now crossing
into Northern Ireland, I think. Yep, this is Northern Ireland. You will note, however, there’s
no sign saying ‘welcome to the UK’ or any of that. Where are the signs?
There are no signs here. I mean, what do you
need a sign for? It’s always nice to know
where you are, innit? The border is now just to our left,
so the border is now over there. There’s a sort of kink in it,
which comes very close to this road, in about 15 seconds time. Yes, back in the Republic now. I should make it clear as well ..
Oh no, I’m heading south, aren’t I? Obviously, yeah,
that’s the border. So I think we’re now
in the UK. [Sat nav] Bear right, then the
destination is on your right. Well, that’s one aspect of the
politics of Brexit right there: unity referendum now. [Music] It’s coming again. I just thought ‘alright, I’m in
the Republic of Ireland for a bit.’ Three, two, one … We’re in Northern Ireland again.
[Laughs] This is it. This is the end of the UK and the
start of the Republic of Ireland. It’s the end of the UK
in many senses. Yeah.
[Laughs] We milk cows here
in the north and the milk is produced
in the south and … That’s going to be
a big problem. I mean, even the meal man,
like we buy our meal in the south. Most of the aspects of what
you do are all woven together. Yes, yes, yes. And the threat very simply
is that, somehow, this very, very complex
set of supply chains, all that suddenly
has to go like that. Us, the people that are
on the border, who are going to be
most affected by it, are the forgotten people
of Brexit. [Music] [Radio] Theresa May will tell
business leaders in Belfast this afternoon
that she can secure a Brexit deal that
avoids a hard Irish border. Very near here the border
sort of reaches it’s absolute peak
of complexity. Check that out. Who came up with this idea
[Laughs] in 1921 of that as the frontier?
I have no idea. Right, we’ve just arrived in Clones,
just inside the Republic of Ireland, Right on the border. It’s freezing. Right, we’re off duty
in a minute. I’m nearly 50 and I acquiesce
in all your crazy schemes. Hello gents.
– How you doing? Have you been filming?
Yeah. Guess what about?
– Brexit, no doubt. [Laughter]
Do you live here? Yeah, I run this bar. It’s a very uneasy
sort of atmosphere, nobody knows whats
going to happen. And what is Clones like? It’s a great wee town, it is.
It’s took a hit lately. You’s will be in
for a pint later. We’ll come in for a pint later. Right lads. Has Brexit been on
the news tonight? Yeah, Theresa May
is coming tomorrow. She coming where? I don’t know.
She’ll not come down this way but she’s coming to
Northern Ireland in the morning. What’s she going to say?
– I don’t know. Nothing. – Nothing.
[Laughter] You see, in England,
most people are sort of bored of it and exasperated.
Here I get the impression … And there’s more sort of
anxiety about it, people are worried about it. They would be. It’s a political problem
in England. It’s an actual, real-life
problem here in Ireland. When you voted for Brexit, nobody
thought of the Northern Ireland problem. They never give a fuck. It’s division.
It’s physical division. It’s creating a point
of aggrevation between two countries,
which manifests itself in fucking … – Violence.
Violence. And you really fear
that coming back? Or that it’s a possibility? I think everyone fears that.
That outcome. There are a few from what …
[unclear] Give us back our
six counties and then you can walk away
with your Brexit. You wanna leave, leave. Give us back our six. We can’t run the 26 we have. – I know.
Right. Well then what the fuck
would we want to do with another six,
now, come on. I totally get it that
over in England the border issue is not
in the forefront of their mind, you know what I mean?
– It should have been though. Yeah. It affects everyday lives. It affects fucking people
that want to fucking create business, that want
to fucking live amongst this shit
they’ve imposed upon us. [Music] Bye Clones. We’re heading to Enniskillen,
which, though majority nationalist, is still politically mixed. It’s also the constituency
home of Arlene Foster. Arlene Foster, whose office is here,
is very pro-Brexit. Yeah, yeah. How do you feel about that? I don’t agree,
don’t agree. I think if she’d had her way,
she’d have a hard border. [Laughs] You know, nobody wants that. Unionists and nationalists? Yeah, well most of my friends
are nationalists, like, and I’m unionist technically, do
you know what I mean? So you were born and
raised in a unionist community? Yeah. But I’d rather if we all …
Ireland went back to the way it was. A united Ireland? Yeah.
– Wow. And has Brexit got something
to do with that? Just to put the end to …
Do you know what I mean? I definitely don’t want
a hard border. And in you’re age group,
do you know other people from a unionist background
that are quite relaxed now about the idea of it? Oh, well maybe …
That’s only my opinion, if you know what I mean,
as a unionist, but like, you know. Yeah, yeah. But it’s not uncommon,
they say that the numbers are shifting a bit
in that direction. Yeah, no I’d rather an all
united Ireland than the Brexit [unclear]. Well, that’s a big part
of the story. That’s the constituency office
of the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party. Who is dead against the backstop
and in favour of Brexit. What am I meant to ask them? So I’ll just be honest and say
that I’ve got a film full of anti-Brexit nationalist voices and I need
a counter-balance. – Yeah. [Music] – Go on. How’d you do? We work for the Guardian,
the newspaper. – Very good. Well, I thought I’d walk in here
and ask you if you could help. Give me a moment. Okay, thank you. I suppose if we’re going to find,
sort of, pro-Brexit union voices, it’s probably
a good place to start. What do you plan to ask?
Just briefly. Wow, there’s a question. See, now look at how
he’s put me on the spot. I’ll give you an idea, alright,
for the last three hours, when the rain has permitted,
all we’ve done is walk up and down here
and if people talk to us, we just shoot the breeze
with them. That’s it.
Honestly. You’re not going to do
a Piers Morgan on me? No. Just who you are, what you do,
how long you’ve lived here? I’ve lived here all my life,
I’m ex-service, I served in Northern Ireland with the
Ulster Defence Regiment. I’m a carer
three days a week. I look after a young fella
with multiple illnesses. I’m a mum of one. Daughter’s in
university doing nursing. And that’s me. So you were in the army? I actually was one of the first
females to be a radio relay operator. So it was quite tough,
cause we had to prove ourselves. – You’ve had an interesting life! Very much so.
– Wow. Okay. I voted out.
– Why? Because I want Northern Ireland
and the UK to be the way they were
over 40 years ago. I want us to stand
on our own feet. I think it’s just a big … It’s blown it up and people
are worried because of what’s going on,
what the news is portraying is actually making
things worse. – In what way?
Tell me, that’s interesting. Just … People are actually afraid,
they think there’s going to be walls built between Ireland
and Northern Ireland. And that men standing
with guns and uniform. That’s not going to come back. – Your vision is what?
So Brexit happens, nominally there is a border there,
but how does it work? I don’t see why,
when Brexit does happen, that it’s going to be a border
that it used to be when the Troubles was here. It’s going to be even less,
less than that. It’s going to be men in …
What do you call them? High-vis vests, checking vehicles,
an odd vehicle, maybe not them all, checking their lorries
for their documents. And what’s wrong with that? You don’t worry that
the Good Friday agreement was built on the fact that
both countries were in the EUa and, therefore, the border was able
to be sidelined as an issue and that’s part of
the miracle you’ve achieved during the last 20 years? I’ll stop you. I don’t even agree with
the Good Friday agreement. I think that when that
Good Friday agreement was made, the Protestant sector
were done hard by. You’re really don’t worry that this
is a sort of very delicate moment? There are big hoardings
up now saying ‘unity referendum now’
and all this stuff. Not in my day. There’ll never be
a united Ireland. Yes, these are the six
counties of Northern Ireland. This country was fought for
and it’s there now and it will always be
Northern Ireland. I never want a united Ireland. If there was a united Ireland,
I’d stand back and I would get
my uniform back on. And I would stand firm
with the British. Like, everyone bleeds red. No one wants the Troubles
back in Northern Ireland. But my grandfather,
my great grandfather fought for this country,
so why should I just give it up because of the signing
of a piece of paper? It’s a different voice.
A different perspective. That’s a very sort of, resolute,
uncompromising take on it and I think in the midst of things
as delicate as the history and present
of Northern Ireland, god, that sort of sensibility … It’s not like there
isn’t a version of that on the other side,
of course, but … It’s quite something
to hear that. [Music] It’s good this.
It’s got a bit of a … I like this sort of post-grunge,
bit Nirvana-ey music. It’s another Derry musician
called Suzy Blue who we’ve arranged to meet
at the end of our trip. We’re going back to Derry
for some music. [Music/pub noise] Right, we’re in Sandino’s,
the sort of beating heart of radical Derry. Why are there so many
bands here? Because I think that the young
people have something to say. So we we’ve had three
days on the road. To drive back with your music on,
when a rainbow appeared. Yeah. I don’t want to embarrass
you here, but your music has simultaneously
quite a melancholic but also a sort of
undertow of hope? The lyrics are quite sad but
the melody tries to keep you upbeat for the things
to come and knowing that
we can change it. [Guitar strums] When you look into the light,
think you’re fine. When you look into the light,
do you know you’re fine? I think I wrote my first song
when I was 14. It felt like it was the only
way that I was able to say stuff in a poetic way
to everybody, but also they did not have a clue
what I was saying to them. So I still got the release
of a way of coming out without coming out.
– Wow. I definitely sing about
being queer, which is a big deal
in Northern Ireland. It’s illegal to get married. I think Brexit puts
an extra strain on it. We were just dealing
with those things, and now we have
this extra thing where we might have
a hard border or a soft border. If you have a sense of hope
about the future of here, I don’t know whether you do.
Do you not? – No, I do.
Tell me about it. Well, I have a feeling
that the LGBT+ community and the women of Ireland
are going to help us in the North achieve
equality and body autonomy just like they have. I know that Ireland is going to
unite in a different way. It’s a backwards step, Brexit, innit?
And it’s worrying. But I suppose as much
as some people want to step backwards
there are lots of people who want to carry on
walking into the future. They’re the people
who give me hope. Rightly, they’re not going
to be defined by this. Remember that.