Monday 16 September 2019

Editorial: 'We must realise Johnson is deadly serious about no deal'

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Photo: Dylan Martinez/Reuters
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Photo: Dylan Martinez/Reuters


So much about Brexit has been phoney, it can be difficult to keep hold of reality.

Let us remind ourselves: Britain is facing its gravest constitutional crisis since the war; this country is bracing itself to deal with a full-on economic emergency.

Yes, all the pirouetting on the plinth, the feints and shimmies, have been a distraction - they were meant to be. And so successful have been the diversion tactics, the substance of the script has almost become forgotten.

But even if all this is so, one would still hope an experienced Government minister would be able to see the wood for the trees.

Yet yesterday, Culture and Heritage Minister Josepha Madigan gave the impression that Boris Johnson may be merely "posturing".

Asked if she trusted the British prime minister, she said: "It's not about trust.

"I understand there is posturing, I do understand people might say one thing in private and one thing in public, whether what he's saying is what he'll follow through with remains to be seen."

Many would regard such an analysis as either naive, or a clutching at straws.

Either way, it hardly reflects the imminent risks we may soon be exposed to. Mr Johnson has passed the point of having any use for posturing. He has a fixed plan which he will execute ruthlessly.

The weakness of the opposition in the UK has afforded him free rein.

Even Jeremy Corbyn, arguably the most tone- deaf politician in these islands, has woken up to the enormity of the situation.

Yesterday, he scrambled MPs together to formulate a plan to impose a legal block on a no-deal Brexit.

He may well have left it too late. One way or another, he knows Mr Johnson is not bluffing. And have not some of the most spectacular falls in history not been from bridges politicians did not realise they were burning?

Whatever she thinks about events in the UK, one might have thought Ms Madigan would have been aware of her Cabinet colleague Paschal Donohoe's briefing to the media yesterday, where he outlined the full financial preparations post-Brexit.

It is vital to be on point heading into the turbulence of such unpredictable political and economic headwinds.

Anyone expecting Mr Johnson to come out from behind a mask, and reveal himself to be all about harmonious future relationships with the EU has been misreading the signals.

By now, most accept the UK will be out of the EU after October 31.

What happens after that will depend on a number of factors. But what is abundantly clear is, we need to see coherence across all departments.

It is something the Government has managed fairly adroitly to date. There can be no misunderstanding: protecting the Good Friday Agreement and membership of the EU must inform all plans.

For in negotiations, words can become cages if they are not used carefully. Anything that indicates a loosening in approach will be seized on.

Irish Independent

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