There is a saying people fret gathering bundles of sticks to build bridges they never get to cross. And then there are also those who would burn them before they ever even had a chance to be traversed.
The fear is this may be what Boris Johnson is about to do. Taoiseach Micheál Martin spoke for many of us when he said he was "extremely concerned".
The UK Government's new bill for post-Brexit trading, by its own admission, violates the EU treaty.
It assumes the power to ignore parts of the crucial Northern Ireland protocol of the Withdrawal Agreement.
Specifically, it alters export declarations and other exit procedures essential to avoid a hard border, and maintain trade fluidity.
The unilateral changes breach the international agreement and flout the law.
Such disrespect for a deal achieved after some of the most exhaustive negotiations in the history of the EU has caused consternation.
With the safe harbour of agreement in sight, the British government has inexplicably turned about and headed into the eye of the storm. It risks doing damage to Britain's international reputation.
Ordinarily the instinct in international disputes is to play things down. However, the enormous size of this breach of trust, and possible consequence for the future of these islands, do not sit well with understatement.
For one side to go off and shift fundamental pillars of understanding risks jeopardising the entire process.
Mr Johnson's move puts the future of any possible free-trade agreement in extreme doubt, and moves the hands of the Doomsday Clock dramatically closer to the hour of a disorderly Brexit.
Tánaiste and Enterprise Minister Leo Varadkar frankly told RTÉ he does not believe a trade deal can be reached if agreement is not honoured.
Mr Martin was equally grim in his assessment: "The degree to which it (the changes) drags Northern Ireland back into the centre stage is very, very regrettable. It has the potential to be divisive in that context."
The action taken in London, unless it is reversed; can only undermine trust and will be interpreted as bad faith by Brussels.
Since coming to office, Mr Johnson has fastened to a version of Britain first.
The pandemic, if anything, seems to have strengthened his resolve.
The latest Gross Domestic Product figures for the UK for the last six months show a plunge of 22pc.
When Brexit was first supported, it was regarded as a bolt into the unknown, but one worth taking to escape the clutches of Brussels.
Yet turning one's back on a market of 450 million, and slamming the door behind you at the height of a pandemic, was never part of the script.
Therefore it must be hoped this was just an ill-advised gambit to test, rather than thwart the EU; for all our sakes - including the UK's.