Tuesday 20 August 2019

Editorial: 'We can no longer be left in dark on no-deal plans'

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: REUTERS
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: REUTERS


They say the hardest fall you can take is to trip over your own bluff.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is clearly still struggling to take seriously Boris Johnson's demands for a new deal, and binning the backstop.

Even if Brussels was to buckle, there would not be time to weave together the intricate fibres of almost 50 years of shared law into a new agreement, or unpick the old one.

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Having seen the whites of the eyes of the plucky team of no-deal Brexit stormtroopers Mr Johnson has mustered to lead out of the trenches, we must assume the appetite for jaw-jaw has been exhausted. Mr Varadkar has been diplomatic to the point of indulgence.

There is always a point where wishful thinking collides with reality. The hands of the doomsday clock on a Brexit crash-out have shifted dramatically with the instalment of Mr Johnson in Downing Street.

The prime minister has at least been frank about his intentions, even if he has been dangerously indifferent to the toxic fallout sure to follow.

By contrast, our Government has been evasive and unwilling to even discuss if it can protect this country when all bets are off.

The time of vague talk of contingency plans and "checks away from the Border" has ended.

Now that a no-deal departure looks most likely - a scenario we were told was too terrible even to consider - the Government must come clean and tell us what it has agreed to put in place with the EU. How will trade, agriculture, education, food supplies and every aspect of Irish life play out in the future, after the clock strikes midnight on October 31?

It is conceivable Mr Johnson could yet blink, but such is the fervour stirred up for a hasty departure he would likely be devoured by the ultras.

There is, too, room for manoeuvre in discussions on the future relationship and political declaration, but this presages Mr Johnson has a plan.

To many his only ambition appears to be an overwhelming desire to lead his country in one of the greatest leaps in the dark - without a parachute - in modern history.

If this is the course, so be it.

But the people of this country will not tolerate being kept in the dark.

Our Government must directly address how a hard Border can be avoided, and the single market protected.

They are, after all, the two most urgent priorities it has. How these aims can be achieved will define all our futures.

It is time to recognise the rules of engagement have changed.

Mr Johnson purports to have a preference to leave with a deal, yet all his demands and actions suggest this will be an impossibility.

He has set down a course which is in direct conflict with the EU and the interests of this island.

Given the gravity of the situation we need something other than silence from our Government in response.

Irish Independent

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