Friday 18 October 2019

Editorial: 'Brexit comedy turns into gallows humour as border risk increases'

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is facing a defining fortnight.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is facing a defining fortnight.


Classic comedy fans are now running out of analogies to draw with Brexit.

The Black Knight from 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail', with his overconfidence and refusal to give up despite being rendered limbless has been drawn upon to describe British Prime Minister Theresa May's approach to repeatedly returning to Brussels seeking a better deal in the Withdrawal Agreement.

The Pythons were again the inspiration for suggestions their dead parrot sketch was akin to Mrs May's repeated attempts to pass that deal through Westminster.

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And the hilarity, confusion and exasperation of Abbott and Costello's 'who's on first base' adequately sums up the chances of explaining the indicative votes system in the House of Commons.

Unfortunately, Laurel and Hardy aren't still around to portray Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson nightly on the West End stage.

But the humour is becoming dark as the gallows of Brexit approaches.

Mrs May is still living to fight another day, even though MPs rejected her EU withdrawal agreement on the day the UK was due to leave.

In a bizarre twist, Britain is now likely to have to hold European elections, even as it flounders around seeking a way out of the bloc.

All of the options for a deal have now been examined and the inability of the British parliamentary system to find any sort of resolution makes a mockery of their democracy.

The likelihood now is the UK will leave the EU in a fortnight's time without a deal.

A no-deal Brexit makes the concept of a backstop guarantee of no hard Border redundant. There have been supportive noises coming from EU leaders about protecting the Good Friday Agreement.

However, their priority will always be protecting the single market.

The Government has repeatedly reassured us there was solidarity across the EU towards our plight as the only member state with a land border with the UK - added to by the weight of history between these islands.

Talk is cheap.

The crunch was always going to come when Brexit came down to the wire.

The EU's heavy-hitters, Angela Merkel of Germany and Emmanuel Macron of France, will hold meetings next week with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to discuss plans for the implementation of some sort of border.

Chancellor Merkel displayed her frustration at a lack of planning for a border at last week's EU summit. The tone has now dramatically changed.

The fear was always that EU leaders would sell us out in the interests of protecting the trading bloc.

Burying our heads in the sand isn't going to make this problem go away.

The Taoiseach is facing a defining fortnight, not just for his own leadership, but Ireland's relationship with the European Union.

Irish Independent

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