Sunday 19 August 2018

Brexiteers are either clueless or trying to rewrite history

Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg
Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

The past week was built up as one that could have derailed Brexit - but instead the train is still stuck in the station.

While the EU published the legal text of the withdrawal agreement and Theresa May attempted to tiptoe forwards, not much has actually changed on the question of the Irish Border.

That's hardly a surprise given there still seems to be a large lack of awareness in London as to what the question actually is.

This is best epitomised by a man sometimes mentioned as a possible future leader of the Conservative Party.

Over recent days, Jacob Rees-Mogg (inset) accused Ireland and the EU of risking a "no deal" Brexit, with an "absurd" suggestion that Northern Ireland should be in a common regulatory area with Brussels.

Of course that's not actually the demand. That's the 'backstop' if his Government can't come up with an alternative way of keeping an open border.

While rambling on about the EU's "unfriendly act", Mr Rees-Mogg fuels the idea that the Irish Government's stance is driven by Leo Varadkar's fear of losing seats to Sinn Féin. Top this with UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson's comparison between the Irish Border and travelling between London boroughs, and two things become clear.

Firstly, many UK politicians lack any depth of knowledge about Irish politics. And secondly, some are even a bit clueless about the internal workings of the United Kingdom. There's not a lot of political capital in Northern Ireland.

'Telegraph' columnist Charles Moore wrote over the weekend: "If the representative of a foreign power (or powers) says that your country should be split for the greater convenience of that power (or powers), your reaction, if you are a normal person, is to get angry. This week, Michel Barnier did exactly that by saying that the EU would insist on Northern Ireland remaining inside the EU customs union..."

It seems Brexit is both making and rewriting history.

Analysis

Irish Independent

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