Like my fellow monks, I am said by the article to be skilled at "cloaking a base ideology in the language of freedom", so remember, before you read on, that you have been warned.
Let me just explain what support for the unity and independence of the United Kingdom is and is not.
It is not an ideology, base or otherwise. It does not depend upon any general theory. It is not, for me, a matter of nationalism. Nationalism is an ideology about the freedom and fulfilment of peoples everywhere, which is almost as crude and mistaken as Marxism.
Support for the continuance of the British nation arises from an understanding of our history. This is that our independence, which is largely the result of being an island, has given us our distinctive political and cultural character. Anything that reduces this independence therefore alters that character profoundly. I think it tends to alter it for the worse, since the experience of independence has given us blessings which are rare in history - strong, continuous, free institutions, especially parliamentary government. European political integration, therefore, makes Britain unBritish in a sense that it does not make Belgium unBelgian, or Holland unDutch. I am not necessarily opposed to European government on principle, I am against Britain being apart of it.
If you believe that participation in British political institutions is a benefit, you should support all your citizens who want to continue to enjoy the benefit. That means being a friend of the Union. To say, "the Northern Irish are different" is to state a true ethnic fact, but is not an argument against the Union. To exclude them on those grounds is to be an English racist.
In Northern Ireland today, we have not had five months of peace. We have had five months of ceasefire, which is something different. The IRA have not forsworn war and have not handed in their weapons. They are using a new tactic to see if it will get them what they want. The leaked framework document suggests that their tactic is working: we are moving towards the united Ireland for which they have killed so many for so long. That is not peace, but a victory for terrorism and a blow against our nation'scapacity to defend its citizens' freedom. I am sorry if it makes your leader writer very angry when one points this out, but there it is.
The writer is the editor of the `Sunday Telegraph'.