Tuesday 17 September 2019

Editorial: 'Johnson's headlong rush at a crash-out spells disaster'

'He still appears convinced he is uniquely qualified to do almost anything with nothing.' Photo: Duncan McGlynn/Pool via Reuters
'He still appears convinced he is uniquely qualified to do almost anything with nothing.' Photo: Duncan McGlynn/Pool via Reuters
Editorial

Editorial

In danger of going blind as we squinted to read between the red lines on Brexit, along came Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to tell us there may have to be checks "near" the Border, after all. Not away from, but "near".

With one word in one moment, any comfort we had found in living in our parallel universe since 2016, when Britain voted to leave the EU, fell away. Worst fears tend not to be realised without a rude awakening.

And so the ugly face of the realities of no deal has finally been unmasked.

Border checks are something we feared with good reason. They are a chilling reminder of a past no rational, responsible person would care to revisit.

They conjure up the searing heartbreak of car-bombs, shootings, knee-cappings; a catalogue of failures paid for with the lives of innocent victims. If the brutality of the past taught us anything, it was there are no winners with borders.

We may have lived with the crash-out threat long enough to appreciate its full chilling implications; yet confronting it is no less shocking. It is crushing to comprehend how an administration could countenance what would amount to a premeditated destruction of an internationally registered peace agreement recognised as a beacon of hope across the world.

The triumph of the Good Friday Agreement was one of unity over division. It was imperfect but still signified a united resolve to move forward by consent. Its enduring legacy would be to herald an end of borders. Hopefully Mr Johnson - due here on Monday - will appreciate carelessness with something so invaluable is inconceivable. The past seven days have been a baptism of fire for the new prime minister. He has seen his authority implode and sacked 21 MPs in his party. One has to go back to 1894 to the Earl of Rosebery to find a precedent for losing a first parliament vote.

He also lost his parliamentary majority of one, while his brother Jo walked away having had enough; and the grandson of Johnson's hero, Winston Churchill, was also made to walk the plank. It all adds up to prove a week can indeed be a very long time in politics.

Meanwhile the snap has also been taken out of his plans to call a snap election, for now.

All of this might give another leader pause to question the wisdom of their actions.

But not Mr Johnson. He still appears convinced he is uniquely qualified to do almost anything with nothing.

He speaks of doing a deal with Brussels, winning an election and powering the UK economy to record performance levels. And all of which he seems to infer, is achievable through the force of his turbo-charged personality rather than reason; as he has yet to furnish Brussels with any plans, detailed or otherwise.

He has railed against "dither and delay". Speed can sometimes be an illusion. To run headlong at a crash-out without due regard for consequences is a risk too far. Understanding is more durable than force.

Irish Independent

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