Monday 14 October 2019

Editorial: 'May must now reach out as Brexit shambles intensifies'

'Mrs May has 24 hours to get a consensus.' (House of Commons/PA)
'Mrs May has 24 hours to get a consensus.' (House of Commons/PA)


The voices of the reasonable and rational have been stilled by the frantic and fanatical who have steered the Brexit bus, front wheels spinning, over the edge.

Whether it can be backed-up or will be written off for scrap is, amazingly, still anyone's guess.

But if we are honest this has been a salvage operation ever since the fantasy model was first designed with all its built-in flaws, and flogged so flamboyantly to the British public.

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Brexit the real model, the one where the rubber actually meets the asphalt, fit for purpose to see the UK exit the EU without a crash, has yet to be road-tested.

If one had the luxury of time-wasting there are many at whom the finger of blame might point. Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn have been irresolute, vacillating and utterly inept in terms of recognising, let alone discharging, their obligations in terms of the national interest.

MPs at Westminster, behaving like spoiled brats, reduced the mother of all parliaments to a crèche.

When a stern nanny was needed, Mrs May went into indulgent Mary Poppins mode.

The magical thinking was actively encouraged. And so today, with just over a week to go, wish-lists that will be met with derision in Brussels are still being drafted.

Boris Johnson is still spouting incredibly irresponsible nonsense. Meanwhile, the DUP makes the most of every photo-op, enjoying its moment of relevance, while adhering to a destructively rejectionist agenda. The whole improbable shooting gallery will fall around all their ears if someone does not come to their senses soon.

Mrs May has 24 hours to get a consensus. All anyone looking at the levels of delinquency and disregard for the enormity of the crisis can say is, good luck with that.

It has been argued that when you cross over some extreme thresholds of reality, abnormal reactions to abnormal situations are to be regarded as normal. But what is "normal" about a total collapse of leadership, direction or common cause, in one of the cradles of democracy on such a critical issue?

Should Mrs May find herself having to plead with the European Council for an extension of Article 50 this Thursday, matters will have moved beyond the surreal.

Speaker John Bercow's intervention means she must think again to get any deal on to the floor of the Commons.

The ultras in the Tories fear they may never escape EU tentacles. The UK could be stuck within the EU not because of any backstop but because of a paralysis in decision making.

Leaving without a deal has been rejected. So what remains is either a crash-out or an alternative to Mrs May's deal. Would a so-called soft Brexit really be so terrible? Compromise must be found.

Remaining in a customs union and maintaining some ties to the single market would have Labour backing. Not reaching out, and instead sticking to red lines and reaching in, could be the rock on which Mrs May founders.

Irish Independent

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