Saturday 16 February 2019

Editorial: 'Taoiseach must act now or risk no-deal catastrophe'

'Until now, all Mr Varadkar has been prepared to acknowledge was the issue might pose problems with other member states with whom we would have to have discussions.' Photo: Getty Images
'Until now, all Mr Varadkar has been prepared to acknowledge was the issue might pose problems with other member states with whom we would have to have discussions.' Photo: Getty Images
Editorial

Editorial

Have we become so used to viewing Brexit as a drunk staggering from one side of the bar to the other, that we have stopped thinking about what happens should he fall flat on his face? If so, we got a sobering reminder from the European Commission's chief spokesman last night.

A hard Border, which Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney have so far refused to even countenance, will be a certainty.

Margaritis Schinas conceded if Britain leaves without a deal: "I think it's pretty obvious - you will have a hard Border."

Sometimes even an inevitability can come as a shock. But this shouldn't be. The time for sleep-walking, false confidence and even pretence has passed.

Until now, all Mr Varadkar has been prepared to acknowledge was the issue might pose problems with other member states with whom we would have to have discussions. Up to last week he insisted: "We are not planning for checks on the land Border in Northern Ireland."

We have despaired at the refusal of British leaders to engage with the hard facts and severe risks a Brexit crash-out entails, but there will be no tolerance for similar denial in Dublin. Our Government's line, that it "will not accept a hard Border on this island and therefore is not planning for one", sounds woefully inadequate.

Warning of the "volcanic effects" a no-deal Brexit would have - with unthinkable consequences for the global financial system - Alex Weber, leader of the world banking union said yesterday: "An unmitigated, uncontrolled Brexit is the worst outcome we could imagine."

True, Labour has finally put forward an amendment seeking to force the British government to give parliament time to consider and vote on options to prevent 'no deal'.

But even if Jeremy Corbyn has partially shaken off his torpor, accepting the possibility of a second vote, we are still in the dark.

With no fewer than six amendments in play in the Commons with proposals for a delay, a new vote, and even for parliament to take control, nothing is sure.

Mr Corbyn has argued the amendment allowed MPs "to end this Brexit deadlock".

The next steps will only be voted on next Tuesday. All the familiar certainties have now become shadows and the unthinkable could come to pass.

We must not be the moth whose fate is sealed because it ignores the dangers and allows its feet to get caught in the molten wax of the candle.

Awaiting some ideological call to arms in Westminster to retrieve the situation is a luxury we really do not have.

Irish Independent

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