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Editorial: 'UK parliament must unite to prevent no-deal Brexit'

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Flagging: The EU and the UK flags fly outside Westminster in London. Tuesday will see a crunch Brexit vote in the UK’s House of Commons. Photo: PA

Flagging: The EU and the UK flags fly outside Westminster in London. Tuesday will see a crunch Brexit vote in the UK’s House of Commons. Photo: PA

PA

Flagging: The EU and the UK flags fly outside Westminster in London. Tuesday will see a crunch Brexit vote in the UK’s House of Commons. Photo: PA

Has any prime minister in history relied so heavily on desperation as a force to mobilise or motivate to the extent as Theresa May?

She first struck the despatch box after calling her ill-judged election back in 2017, insisting: "No deal was better than a bad deal." She spent the next two years repeating it.

Closer to the precipice in recent weeks, the script changed to: "It's my deal or no deal." Now with one foot over the ledge yesterday the message is: "It's my deal or no Brexit."

By turn, members of her Conservative Party have misinformed, conspired, barracked and bad-mouthed every idea put to the House of Commons. At no point did they produce anything but bile and dissent.

Mrs May went to Brussels and got a sympathetic hearing from the 27. But when asked what she wanted she was non-specific. In any event, whatever deal she returned with would have been rejected once she brought it back "home" to her warring confrères.

Yet the abiding memory of the last European Council gathering was of Mrs May filmed rowing with the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, whom she thought had accused her of being "nebulous". The very notion.

Relying on the DUP was just one of several miscalculations made. Betting all on changing the legal text of the withdrawal agreement, without a viable alternative, was a busted flush. While blaming all on recalcitrance in Brussels or Dublin doesn't wash.

Seeking "clarifications" and "assurances" on what was impossible was also futile.

Mrs May began her premiership endorsing the slogans of the right wing of her party; all along they have insisted the EU "will give us everything we want".

Boris Johnston, Michael Gove and Liam Fox said it would be a push-over to get all the benefits of the EU club outside it, without having to abide by EU rules inside, or even pay a subscription fee.

Tone deaf to the warnings of John Major or Tony Blair, they blundered on.

The civil war within the Conservative Party mangled any chance of consensus.

Jeremy Corbyn's side-lining of Labour has been as shameful.

Even on the eve of today's historic vote, Mrs May warned reversing the result of the referendum would do "catastrophic harm". At the same time her trade secretary, Mr Fox, was arguing the government could shift to a full no-deal footing should it lose the vote.

Nothing to worry about, then.

Yet it is hard to believe there is a majority in the Commons for leaving the EU without a deal for all the bravado. Time will soon tell. But one way or another, the UK parliament must get beyond rancour and blame and look at what is best for the country.

Irish Independent