Monday 19 August 2019

Hugh O'Connell: 'Botched pitch a microcosm of Brexit shambles'


Leo Varadkar. Picture: Damien Eagers
Leo Varadkar. Picture: Damien Eagers
Hugh O'Connell

Hugh O'Connell

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar recently took a pointed jab at the political turmoil in the UK by drawing comparisons with the relative stability in Ireland because of his confidence and supply deal with Fianna Fáil.

"Most people including myself believed that wouldn't last very long and we're now on our third British prime minister already," Mr Varadkar said at the MacGill Summer School in Donegal last month. "There could be a fourth yet, who knows."

There were ripples of laughter from the audience - and no one took Mr Varadkar seriously. But it may prove to have been prophetic as the political chaos in London shows no signs of abating this week.

As Boris Johnson's government firmly commits to leaving "do or die" on the October 31 and its no-deal preparations intensify, the Remain MPs - or 'Remoaners' as they are known to their Brexiteer foes - are plotting how to stop him.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, whose view on whether Brexit is good or bad is constantly evolving, made a big pitch on Wednesday night by asking opposition parties and Tory rebels to back his plan to avert no deal.

It involved bringing down Mr Johnson's administration through a no-confidence motion, making the Labour leader PM temporarily so that he can delay Brexit, call a snap election and campaign for a second referendum.

Read more here: Alternative Brexit proposals will be given consideration - Phil Hogan

Mr Corbyn made his grand pitch without consulting those whose support he would need - and it appeared to have collapsed by yesterday afternoon with the Liberal Democrats rejecting it, while proposing alternative PMs.

The push to unseat Mr Johnson and his government is not over yet, but Mr Corbyn's botched effort this week is a perfect microcosm of the biggest problem preventing a resolution to the Brexit shambles: no one can agree on anything.

MPs who think that the UK should not leave at all or at least not on crash-out terms can't find consensus on how to deliver this, while MPs who want out of the EU couldn't agree to do it with the deal on the table and are now arguing over whether to ditch that entirely or just the backstop provision.

Three years after it voted to leave, there is a growing expectation that the UK really will on October 31, but such is the scale of the Westminster psychodrama, don't count on it.

Irish Independent

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