Editorial: 'Stakes are high but realism from UK side is now overdue'
Words are supposed to have power, wise ones survive after those who have spoken them have moved on.
Very foolish ones can echo after the chambers in which they were uttered have crumbled, and then along came Brexit...
Words intended to have import are hollowed out once it is even mentioned.
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Such is the context in which today's "meaningful vote" takes place in Westminster.
If it is as "meaningful" as the last, small wonder Taoiseach Leo Varadkar barely concealed his exasperation when he said it is "far too late" for the UK to tell the European Union what it wants.
He was stating the obvious.
To be tinkering about with phraseology to mollify people who have closed their minds to political realities is a zero-sum game.
The Tory party has invested all its hopes in either discovering or engineering a legal trapdoor from which to escape the uncomfortable facts of life outside of the EU.
Were Brexit a live animal it would have died long ago from all the prodding and poking it has endured. Despite the rough handling for many within Conservative ranks, it is still regarded as a chimera; a fantastic beast, that can be anything they wish it to be.
No amount of staring it in the mouth will convince them it is real; and, not only that, a creation of their own.
This is the backdrop to Theresa May's trip to Strasbourg. Once more she has sought elucidation, clarification, or whatever linguistic lifebelt she can prise out of the exhausted officials.
Everyone in these islands wishes her Godspeed: yet only the very sanguine would bet the house that the agreed formula will definitely deliver the numbers to get her over the Line.
Nelson Mandela managed to peacefully turn around apartheid in one of the most unjust regimes of the 20th century by recognising that language must speak to the head as well as the heart.
So far no such insight has been demonstrated by Mrs May. She has failed until the last possible moment to communicate effectively with party, country, or those in the EU with whom she is charged with reaching agreement.
After two and a half years, the national interest of the UK has taken second place to the survival of her fractious party. Should her strategy again end in tatters, having failed to build any consensus, it is inevitable parliament will take control.
What is at stake is far more important than the career of any individual.
The Irish government has been nothing if not accommodating. But the backstop can not be removed. Some ground may be yielded, but a recognition of the EU's position, and acknowledgment the UK can not have everything outside the EU it currently enjoys within, is overdue.