Saturday 19 August 2017

Brexit won't happen when UK finds pill too bitter to swallow

British Prime Minister Theresa May speaks to the House of Commons after setting out her plan for Brexit negotiations with the EU. Photo: Getty
British Prime Minister Theresa May speaks to the House of Commons after setting out her plan for Brexit negotiations with the EU. Photo: Getty

Ciarán Conlon

So, I don't think Brexit will actually happen. There, I've said it. While I'm at it, I think Ireland will rise to the Brexit challenge and will emerge stronger at the other end.

In many ways Brexit is the ultimate manifestation of a point I made here recently about populist politics. That's the argument that complex public policy problems have simple solutions they - government, politicians, the establishment - refuse to recognise. Unhappy with your life? Blame the foreigners and everything will be OK.

Now, after months of scrambling, squirming and chin scratching, British Prime Minister Theresa May presented her 12-point plan for EU negotiations. But she failed to explain that it wasn't in fact a plan, but a wish list. So, while we have more clarity on what Mrs May would like, there's no sense of how she will have her wishes fulfilled. That's why, among other reasons, I think the task of the UK exiting the EU is simply too large, too complex, too economically damaging and too politically toxic for the system to actually process. The pill is simply too large for the patient to swallow.

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