Saturday 21 September 2019

Kevin Doyle: 'Brexit seems like great craic this week but panto season must end'

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

It's not often you hear of somebody quitting their job so they can spend less time with their family.

Brexit has done strange things to all of us who engage with politics on a daily basis.

The UK is stumbling out of the European Union like a drunk from a bar, who has lost their wallet and has no change for a taxi.

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On the other hand, Boris Johnson's brother left the Conservative party in a very Irish fashion. He snuck out quietly before anybody could convince him to take 'just one vote' and tweeted back to let everybody know he was Ok. Hashtag 'over and out'.

The prime minister had planned to kick off what is in effect an election campaign casting parliament as the enemy of the people yesterday. But the graceful exit of Jo Johnson "in the national interest" overshadowed everything.

It seems nothing is going right for the Tory leader right now but he is prepared to talk in war terms such as 'no surrender' forever.

Let's recall that the Brexit referendum took place on June 23, 2016. Article 50 was triggered by Theresa May nine months later and the UK was due to leave on March 29, 2019. That was pushed out until June 8. And the current 'do-or-die' deadline is October 31.

If can-kicking were an Olympic sport, then the UK would win gold every time.

The possibility that they will now seek another extension will be met with mixed views across Europe. Emmanuel Macron was against the last delay but caved under pressure from Angela Merkel and others.

The Irish Government will push its partners in the EU27 for a delay - but there are pros and cons to that situation from our point of view.

Obviously we want every last opportunity for a deal to be utilised. Yet at the same time, dragging out the uncertainty will hurt consumer confidence and business.

Normal politics has long been suspended in this country, which can't be good for democracy in the long term.

Our Budget for 2020 is being written based on decisions being made by Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn. The timing of the next Dáil election is being dictated by events in the House of Commons.

And the crises in health and housing have slid down the news agenda as Brexit consumes everything.

Without doubt the public (and journalists) have enjoyed the pantomime in the House of Commons this week. From Charles Stewart Parnell to chlorinated chickens and big girls' blouses, it has been unfathomably entertaining and great craic.

But at some point it has to stop and we will have to stomach the consequences.

Addressing the British Irish Chamber last night, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar cautioned that "the story of Brexit" does not end if the UK leaves on October 31.

Apparently the next phase will make the negotiations on the Withdrawal Agreement "seem simple".

Brexit is for life, not just for 2019.

Irish Independent

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