Farm Ireland

Thursday 14 December 2017

Opinion: Brexit could turn to 'bromance' if British voters get a second chance

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble. REUTERS/John Kolesidis/Files
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble. REUTERS/John Kolesidis/Files
Ann Fitzgerald

Ann Fitzgerald

I have just three skinny hopes that Brexit won't have a big and bad impact on the economy of Ireland.

In politics, there's this thing where, when something unsavoury is in the offing, the worst-case scenario is mooted first. A period of horse-trading follows. By the time the threatened event actually comes to pass, there will have been some row-back.

So this is my first hope - that news is rarely as bad as the first time you hear it.

My second hope is that those who are actually doing the negotiations on our behalf have a better handle on the situation than many of those I have heard talking about it.

What I know about economics could be written in large font on a betting slip but here's something I can't figure.

The big thing from Ireland's point of view seems to be the border with Northern Ireland. The perceived wisdom on this front is that we would be better off with a soft, rather than hard, border. But would we?

This boundary will be the only land border between Britain and the EU and, if this were "soft", surely there is a danger that it would become a floodgate for smuggling all kinds of everything into Europe, with the first and worst impact on our economy.

My last hope is that Britain will hold another referendum.

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Perhaps Britain might take an Irish approach to an Irish problem, as happened with the Nice Treaty when a No vote of 53.9pc in 2001 turned into a Yes of 62pc the following year.

A poll earlier this year suggested that, were Britain to vote again, the outcome would be different.

It's far from certain that the electorate actually wanted out. Maybe the real intention was to give their government and the EU a bit of a kick up the butt.

Last week, the German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble said that it is not too late to change tack and that a returning Britain would be welcomed with open arms.

While the German may just have been stirring things up, the likelihood is that if Britain went back to the drawing board, it could probably negotiate a better deal than in the past.

It would, moreover, almost certainly be in a better position than if they go out on their own, to hammer out and perpetually police a whole raft of complex trading agreements.

Theresa May said last week that the timetable for the exit negotiations remains on course. In reality, another general election in Britain remains very much on the cards. If the government falls, will another referendum become an inevitability? What happens if Britain leaves without reaching an agreement?

If the issue were to be revisited, any hope of success could well depend on the adoption of a snappy slogan.

Long before last year's Brexit vote, I was telling everyone that would listen that the term Leave sounded far more spirited and hip than the dull and backward-looking Remain.

Bromance, the term for a close but non-physical relationship between two men, might fit the bill. Or how about Br-Entry? Or BReMarry? Or Reunited? Would it feel so good?

On the one hand, I am totally sick of Brexit and can't wait for it to be over so we can just get on dealing with the new reality, whatever that will be. At the same time, I truly hope that whoever is looking out for our interests remains fully engaged until the final whistle blows.

Indo Farming