Sunday 26 May 2019

Editorial: 'Lack of realism among many British MPs a bad sign'

An anti-Brexit sticker is pictured on Westminster Bridge in central London. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
An anti-Brexit sticker is pictured on Westminster Bridge in central London. Photo: AFP/Getty Images


Bad news for many is that the holidays definitely end with a thud today. Worse news is that we still have all that Brexitology to garnish our January blues. Worst of all, there is no end in sight.

The issue is back on the agenda of the UK parliament from today. It is already clear that the seasonal holidays have not helped opponents of Theresa May's EU-UK divorce deal to see any kind of sense.

Indeed, all the signals from London over the weekend suggested that what many EU diplomats now dub the "London-to-London" Brexit dialogue is nowhere near its end point.

Much of it focuses on "wish lists" about the kind of Brexit the various politicians would like - and regrettably some politicians are still looking at the fanciful idea that the process might yet be reversed.

Few are focused on the harsh reality that the heart of what is on offer is the draft Brexit deal done by Mrs May and the other 27 EU leaders at a special summit on November 25 last. Some reassurance can be given to help the embattled British prime minister to push that boulder up the incline and over the brow of the hill. But there will be no substantive changes.

The appalling vista otherwise is a crash-out, no-deal Brexit which will leave all the people in these islands much worse off. That will automatically happen in a little over 11 weeks' time, on March 29, unless things change dramatically.

Proceedings at Westminster may well kick off tomorrow with a quixotic effort to put an effective financial block on that no-deal Brexit with a crude political device. A cross-party group of MPs has let it be known they would hold up funds for many government functions in a Donald Trump-style shutdown.

The idea says much about the current parlous state of British political discourse. It also reminds us of the volumes of important business not being done in that jurisdiction, and here in Ireland, while so much of the energies of our key politicians and administrators focus on trying to mitigate serious economic, political and social Brexit harm.

We now expect the UK MPs to vote on Brexit sometime around January 15. Mrs May postponed that vote on December 11 last when it became clear that she would lose it by up to 150 votes.

Now, as the March 29 deadline beckons, she is in an even weaker position having promised to quit before the next general election in two years' time. She will not win this one, and the signals from Brussels are that it is pointless wasting any help in the form of a political declaration of comfort. That would be better invested in a parliamentary vote re-run, stoked up by currency market turmoil.

It is all so very discouraging.

Irish Independent

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