Friday 20 September 2019

Editorial: 'We need more than words of comfort as Brexit looms'

Leo Varadkar (Liam McBurney/PA)
Leo Varadkar (Liam McBurney/PA)
Editorial

Editorial

Playing dumb is not the best avoidance technique in the face of imminent confrontation.

Reality has a way of breaking the silence, doing the talking in the most unpredictable ways. Hidden tensions and pressures build and ultimately explode. Far better then to face the unpalatable so it can be managed and you can have some control over outcomes.

It has been three years since the vote for Brexit and yesterday European Affairs Minister Helen McEntee acknowledged a no-deal Brexit is more likely and no-deal planning is now our priority.

This simple statement has life-changing implications for everyone on this island.

But as yet, the Government is not prepared to reveal what they are. We know it has been strategising and preparing contingencies to handle multiple scenarios.

The machinations of Boris Johnson make no deal more probable. But Ms McEntee says what is important now is for the Government to remain calm and steadfast.

At this point many will feel entitled to a little more than a 'Dad's Army' "don't panic, Captain Mainwaring" approach.

From the moment Mr Johnson decided to put parliament in cold storage we moved into a red zone in terms of risk management.

It behoves Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to extend the circle of trust to the people of the country who will have to react and adapt to the seismic changes coming their way in the immediate future.

How are businesses to prepare, how are families to budget if they are not informed of preparations?

Today, we reveal how supermarket stocks could run down within a few days.

Mr Johnson has been forensic in his planning and utterly uncompromising in its execution.

If he has hidden, he did so in plain sight. At no point did he conceal his ambition to bolster his hand with an election.

Therefore there can be no mitigation in failing to see what was coming, or to have a back-up emergency plan for worst-case, crash-out consequences.

Right now, only the slenderest of fraying threads separates our country from a catastrophic outcome. Commons Speaker John Bercow and the opposition may cobble together something, but yesterday they were being taunted by Mr Johnson's supporters to "catch us if you can".

In the UK, there is a gathering awareness that the country faces its gravest constitutional crisis in decades. Mr Johnson's no-deal opponents have as few as four days' sitting next month to apply the brakes. A collision with the EU now looks virtually unstoppable. We are caught in the middle.

Mr Johnson has teed up the election to be fought on the people versus the foreigners. Meanwhile, the opposition fumbles about to muster a counter-force.

EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said the bloc would protect its citizens, businesses and peace in Ireland "in all circumstances".

This is comforting, but it would be more so if we knew what those protections were.

Irish Independent

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