Friday 20 September 2019

Editorial: 'Wait-and-see approach won't protect us from brexit peril'

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images


When efforts to forge a key to break a deadlock seem futile, the temptation to make a bolt for it - if you will pardon the pun - can be irresistible.

A distraction like changing the lock may look like the answer, were it not for the fact the old one would still be in place. So the locked-in syndrome can only persist. Elections in themselves will not make problems go away.

But Brexit is about nothing if not butting one's head against logic. So there was hardly surprise at reports British Prime Minister Boris Johnson appears intent on going to the country.

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Nor is it a coincidence Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has also ordered his party to assume battle stations anticipating an early poll here.

Commenting on the whirl of events, Mr Varadkar said it was "a very volatile and dynamic situation".

We will have to wait and see how it pans out, he added. But standing and waiting in the path of a whirlwind, hoping for the best, is no protection in a gathering storm.

Opposition MPs and Tory rebels are scrambling to introduce a law to prevent no deal.

And should they succeed, Mr Johnson would likely pounce on it as a pretext for a snap poll.

An election before October 31 could afford another tilt at Brussels if armed with a majority.

An immediate election in the UK would likely splinter the opposition unless all unite.

Yes, a win would find him unshackled and free to slam the door on the EU, once and for all.

Cascading events seem to conspire to guarantee the chances of a deal are greatly diminished.

In Brussels, there is little sympathy or patience with machinations in London.

Last week's thunderbolt, proroguing parliament, had already confirmed to many in Europe their belief that Mr Johnson's view was entirely myopic.

Appeals for elaboration on how the UK might address core issues on the backstop, or protecting the integrity of the EU border, are still ignored.

Mr Johnson is asking the people of these islands to put their faith in untried "solutions".

A poll will not change matters unless there are new proposals. But in the world of denial, everything can be passed off as normal. Even shutting down parliament, preventing politicians from teasing out the most important decision the UK has taken in four decades, can be dismissed as perfectly routine. Except that it isn't. People were told getting a deal would be the easiest thing in the world. It wasn't. Those who said getting the UK out of the EU would be like removing an octopus from a string-bag, were indeed correct.

Yesterday, Mr Varadkar said a significant financial package will be needed for companies in the event of no deal. Fianna Fáil has called for more honesty on no-deal planning.

The Taoiseach is hoping to meet Mr Johnson next week, incredibly a date has yet to be set. It is surely time to stop pussy-footing about and to start calling a spade "a bloody shovel".

Reality has a harsh way of punishing persistent indulgence of political fantasies.

Irish Independent

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