Thursday 17 October 2019

Brendan O'Connor: 'Twitter and G&Ts save the day'

Gin and tonic
Gin and tonic
Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

At this stage we are actually gaslighting the poor Brits. And worse, we're doing it on Twitter which, post-Trump, has somehow become the default channel for international diplomacy.

It does make things seem a bit less historic though. Imagine if this is how things were done in the past: "@USA have decided we are entering #ww2. Watch out @japan #pearlharbour #ftw." Or "@franzferdinand assassinated. #thiscouldliterallycauseworldwar1 #It'llbeoverbyChristmas".

Or Ronald Reagan tweets: "@gorby #teardownthiswall #nohugeknockoneffects #davidhasselhoffmightdoasong #Ilovemaggiethatcher."

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Michel Barnier took to Twitter last Friday to announce a major breakthrough in Brexit. The UK could leave the customs union any time it wanted, unilaterally. So that was it. It was all solved. Even Boris would be happy. But then, read on: "While the other elements of the backstop must be maintained to avoid a hard border."

It took about 30 seconds for everyone to twig that it was Britain who demanded the UK-wide backstop. Did Barnier actually think he could fool them by offering to magnanimously take it out? Is he trying to convince them they are crazy? That black is white? Even by the lofty standards of Brexit nonsensicality, this was daft.

Indeed, the only one making sense this weekend is UK chancellor Philip Hammond, who made the point that obsessing that the EU was going to keep the UK prisoner in the EU - tied to a chair while being force-fed straight bananas by Eurocrats - was nuts.

The sad thing is most people aren't even paying attention any more. We are all becoming a bit like Boris. Just get on with it. We barely enjoy #humiliateTheresaWednesdays any more. We just want it to stop, somehow. How that poor Simon Coveney keeps talking about it is beyond most of us.

Brexiteers nearly had another stick to beat Europe with last week when tonic water nearly lost the right to be called tonic water because it's not an actual tonic. With some fancy tonics now costing more by weight than plutonium, a lot was at stake. 'Fancy fizzy water' doesn't have the same ring to it. The good news from the European Commission last Friday was that a gin and tonic will still be called a gin and tonic.

If the UK had had to give up their gin and tonics they would have crashed out of the EU overnight, fearing that the Eurocrats would have been after their warm beer next - and renaming cricket because it's not a chirruping insect. Ireland, where anyone who doesn't own a coffee shop now makes craft gin, was relieved, too. And besides, what would we have done with all the fishbowl glasses, juniper berries and miscellaneous vegetation?

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