Sunday 17 February 2019

Editorial: 'Focus now for UK must be on avoiding no-deal crash-out'

'Extracting the UK from such an intricate series of inter-locking agreements fashioned over 50 years required co-operation, not chaos.'
'Extracting the UK from such an intricate series of inter-locking agreements fashioned over 50 years required co-operation, not chaos.'
Editorial

Editorial

You know you are in a dark place when the argument centres on whether you were destroyed or merely defeated.

Theresa May was cursed to go around in circles on her rickety Brexit ship in unknown waters with a mutinous crew.

The position of the Remainers was set - staying put did not require an elaborate map; while Brexiteers lost their bearings from the start, as each faction appeared to have a separate route. For all their plots and scheming, plotting a common course proved beyond them.

And so, the morning after the "meaningful vote", the meaning of it all seems as lost as the vote; while Mrs May's fate is likely to be little more than a footnote in the greatest political shambles in modern history.

What lies ahead: votes of no confidence, a general election, another referendum?

For all the theatrics, there is still no majority in parliament for any plan that has actually been put on the table. The politicians have failed spectacularly. Mrs May's task was always formidable. Extracting the UK from such an intricate series of inter-locking agreements fashioned over 50 years required co-operation, not chaos. Cohesion, not disintegration. But with no time to lose, two and a half years were squandered.

And so parliament has steadily taken more and more control of the Brexit process; however, ownership of the problems is still to be settled.

Hopefully the focus can now fix on preventing the prospect of crashing out without a deal. But this would require a majority of MPs' support, something that has been beyond all concerned to date.

Steinbeck wrote: "It's so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone."

The light of Brexit was never clear, if there ever was any it has been distorted since the vote was taken on June 23, 2016.

True, not everything can be tied up neatly; strands fray, and tangles become knots if you lose your thread. Analysing the breakdown of common ground is not too difficult.

Things held together by lies, like the ones peddled about impossible deals and improbable outcomes, were bound to come apart.

But the delusions persist; fantasies like terminating the backstop or rendering it temporary still fly.

Talks between the UK and EU can be re-opened, but there must be an end in sight, leadership and direction must be established.

Labour MP Tulip Siddiq defied medical advice and delayed the Caesarean birth of her baby by two days to vote. Given the division in the Commons, Ms Siddiq's infant could well be a grown-up before Brexit is delivered.

Irish Independent

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