But such a policy would not only be disastrous in itself in its ultimate effect upon Irish national life. It would at once provide a fresh and valid excuse for effective fiscal differentiation against Ireland in Great Britain. Once again, as in the eighteenth century, Ireland would be penalised for being a poor and “sweated” country.
So far the discussion of the economic results of separation has been confined to Ireland, because Ireland would undoubtedly be the chief sufferer. Her dependence on the English market, the smallness of her home market, her backward social condition, would all be insuperable obstacles to a really healthy development on independent lines. Great Britain, on the other hand, would suffer relatively much less from Home Rule. The immediate shrinkage of trade with Ireland, even with an Irish tariff to overcome, might not be very great. The real loss would be not so much any actual decrease of trade, as the loss judged by the standard of the possibilities of Irish development under the Union. The essence of the situation after all is that the United Kingdom is a single economic area. The exclusion of one part of that area from the political and economic life of the rest, while injurious to the rest, must prove disastrous above all to the part excluded. After centuries of alternate neglect and repression Ireland has at last been brought to a condition in which she is capable of taking the fullest advantage of a new era of progress and development for the United Kingdom as a whole. And this is the time which is chosen for seriously suggesting that she should once again be excluded from all the benefits of partnership in the United Kingdom and driven out into the wilderness of poverty and decay. The plea for this folly is an unreal sentiment which is itself merely the survival of the mistaken political or economic separatism of the past, and which is nothing to the real and justifiable sentiment of bitterness which would be roused in Ireland if the plea were accepted.
[Footnote 86: This fear itself was the result of separatism. Miss A. E. Murray, in her work on “The Commercial Relations between England and Ireland” (p. 51), points out: “It was not so much jealousy of Ireland as jealousy and fear of the English Crown which influenced the English legislature. Experience seemed to show that Irish prosperity was dangerous to English liberty.... The difficulty was that Ireland was a separate kingdom, and that the English Parliament had no direct authority over her. It was this absence of direct authority which made England so nervously anxious to restrict Irish resources in all those directions in which they might even indirectly interfere with the growth of English power.”]
[Footnote 87: For details, see Miss Murray’s “Commercial Relations between England and Ireland.”]
[Footnote 88: It is worth noting that in 1893 the Liberal Government rejected amendments moved by Mr. Whiteley to prevent existing laws for the protection of workers in factories, workshops, and mines, being repealed by the proposed Irish Legislature, and by Sir J. Gorst to reserve laws affecting the hours and conditions of labour to the United Kingdom Parliament.]