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Editorial: 'Little has changed, despite Johnson's historic humiliation'


Boris Johnson speaks in the House of Commons. Photo: House of Commons/PA Wire

Boris Johnson speaks in the House of Commons. Photo: House of Commons/PA Wire


Boris Johnson speaks in the House of Commons. Photo: House of Commons/PA Wire

Any political vision must have a trajectory through reality, but the pendulum of thought on Brexit has been suspended for too long between sense and nonsense.

So the demand by European Council President Donald Tusk and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar for the UK to finally produce written proposals to end the Brexit crisis next week ought to come as a relief.

The trouble is, judging by the depressing scenes at Westminster yesterday after Parliament resumed, little has changed, despite Boris Johnson's historic humiliation.

Setting yet another deadline is unlikely to have the desired effect. After three years of dithering it is clear that lack of direction rather than lack of time has been the root of the problem.

In the Commons yesterday we were treated to the spectacle of all sides shredding each other with renewed gusto.

The British Attorney General Geoffrey Cox insisted that he respected the decision of the Supreme Court.

But he then launched a blistering attack on MPs for being "too cowardly" to hold an election, adding for good measure: "This Parliament is dead."

This is not a backdrop conducive to the kind of co-operation that is vital to break the political gridlock.

In Brussels, EU Brexit co-ordinator Guy Verhofstadt said the UK has only presented "potential components" of an alternative to the backstop and the EU is not prepared to replace it on this basis.

Mr Varadkar also added there is "still a very wide gap between the EU and the UK", despite a "good" meeting with Mr Johnson in New York on Tuesday.

The trouble in London is that most of the key players are behaving as if they are trapped in someone else's story instead of recognising they are entirely the authors of their own misfortunes.

And so Mr Johnson will plough on and attempt to force through a general election for a third time.

But if any kind of legislation is to be agreed then there needs to be a sea-change in attitudes.

Most objective commentators allow at this point that there is little prospect of the UK departing the EU by Mr Johnson's "do or die" date at the end of next month.

A delay is therefore likely and this will require going to Brussels to request more time.

In such a scenario, Mr Varadkar quite rightly accepts more time should indeed be allowed.

But it is worth restating, this has not been a race against the clock, but a bloody-minded battle of wills.

Those who make the worst use of their time are often the first to complain of its brevity.

Despite everything, some still feel a withdrawal agreement can be signed, by October 31.

The UK's attorney general was adamant "this Parliament is a dead one".

The British electorate may not have voted for a zombie parliament.

But if a deal were somehow to rise from the moribund vaults of Westminster, in time for Halloween, few would complain.

Irish Independent