Tuesday 20 August 2019

Editorial: 'UK now senses disaster but it may be too little, too late'

'Hovering too long in mid-air can only end in disaster; so let's hope this desperate last roll of the dice is not too little, too late' Photo: PA
'Hovering too long in mid-air can only end in disaster; so let's hope this desperate last roll of the dice is not too little, too late' Photo: PA
Editorial

Editorial

There is not a playwright living or dead who could have devised a drama to incite as much fury, exhaustion and resignation as Brexit.

Its potential to do great harm is masked by the mannered banality of an afternoon soap opera.

All of its actors have been seduced by its spell into believing they can drone on drearily on an infinity loop; as the rest of the world screams "fire".

Even as no deal beckons ominously, the lethargy shows no sign of lifting.

In Dublin, Tánaiste Simon Coveney said the Government would not allow a situation where the UK, in leaving the EU without a deal, "drags Ireland out of the single market".

But he also said there is no plan for a no-deal Brexit.

The Government "is working one out" with the EU which he believed would be in place before that situation arose.

With nine days to go, and chaos near total in Westminster, we fervently hope it is.

The mood in Brussels is grim.

Michel Barnier has warned a long extension to the UK's current April 12 exit date carried "significant risks for the EU".

The strongest justification would be required before the EU would agree to a delay, he stressed.

But one wonders is anyone listening in London. Hope of redemption in the form of a host of indicative votes is slipping away.

The BBC has dubbed it a pantomime with no gags.

The cabinet has met for seven hours but the deadlock still holds. There is talk of an "irreconcilable split" in the executive.

The Tories seesaw between preferring no deal or a "softer" Brexit.

Theresa May has finally reached out to Labour. The belated move came only after MPs put forward a bill to prevent a no-deal departure.

If passed into law, it would compel Theresa May to plead for an extension of Article 50.

But she will only be granted one if a deal can be signed off on with Jeremy Corbyn.

Labour MP Yvette Cooper, who presented the delay bill, said MPs "have a responsibility to make sure we don't end up with a catastrophic no deal".

Hopefully the enormous economic and security risks of a messy break-up will finally be taken seriously. Mrs May has at last woken up to the fact she must either step up, or step out.

Ordinarily one might expect at a time of emergency, the opposition would move to get a hand on the wheel. But Mr Corbyn's Labour has shamelessly ducked responsibility until now. As one UK commentator put it: Labour is more an opposition in hiding, than in waiting. President Emmanuel Macron pointed out in France yesterday, whether an alternative plan involves a snap election, another referendum or a customs union, is for Britain to decide.

But hovering too long in mid-air can only end in disaster; so let's hope this desperate last roll of the dice is not too little, too late.

Irish Independent

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