Tuesday 23 April 2019

Editorial: 'Cross-party approach is now crucial to stop Brexit chaos'

'There is still hope a no-deal Brexit can be avoided, but the track records of both Mrs May and Jeremy Corbyn could hardly be less reassuring' Stock photo
'There is still hope a no-deal Brexit can be avoided, but the track records of both Mrs May and Jeremy Corbyn could hardly be less reassuring' Stock photo
Editorial

Editorial

Like one of those deluded Japanese soldiers lost in the mists of time still fighting, Theresa May refuses to concede the war is over concerning her Brexit deal. She took the fight once more to Brussels where she found the temperature had dropped noticeably. There may be sympathy for the British prime minister, but her credibility is shot to pieces when it comes to making good on commitments.

Emmanuel Macron clearly has had enough of the zigzagging on foundational decisions. Cutting to the chase and calling for profound change, the French president said: "In the case of a negative vote in the British parliament, we will be going to a no deal. We all know that."

There is a ruthless logic to the harder EU line. Come June, it will be three years since the UK voted to depart the EU.

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Reserves of goodwill and patience have all but run out in the Belgian capital. They've been drained by missed deadlines, over-blown promises and bloody-minded obstinacy.

Mrs May's assurance to council president Donald Tusk in her letter, that she was "confident parliament will proceed to ratify the deal constructively", is regarded as more wishful thinking.

After two resounding rejections - and a warning by the speaker he will not allow a rerun of the same motion without significant alteration - the outlook is stark indeed.

Yet Mrs May is still not for turning. Her savaging of MPs who she sought to blame for the lack of "progress" has further undermined chances of getting a deal through, and provoked a toxic backlash instead.

At this point, her strategy resembles so much political road-kill. Using a national address to berate MPs on whom she's entirely dependent was akin to torpedoing the lifeboat as the waves lap over one's head.

She can scarcely complain: EU diplomats have had their fill of her pandering to Eurosceptic backbenchers and the DUP.

Her foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said the UK had three options if her deal was defeated again next week: revoke Article 50, leave without a deal, or, he said, a longer extension could be granted at an emergency EU summit.

If this were to happen, the conditions on which the EU insists will be onerous, to say the least.

New thinking is desperately needed but Mrs May is not for turning.

Whether she may have to be turned remains to be seen.

But yesterday a petition on a parliamentary website calling on her to cancel Brexit crashed under the weight of more than one million signatures.

Far from coming together, divisions are deepening in Britain. A joint cross-party approach in the national interest is needed to stop the drift into oblivion and ignominy for Mrs May.

In just three weeks, the UK could crash out of the EU with no deal.

There is still hope a no-deal Brexit can be avoided, but the track records of both Mrs May and Jeremy Corbyn could hardly be less reassuring.

Irish Independent

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