Tuesday 17 September 2019

Editorial: 'Wrecking ball has hit home as support crumbles for May'

British Prime Minister Theresa May holds a press conference at 10 Downing Street, London, to discuss her Brexit plans. Photo: Matt Dunham/PA Wire
British Prime Minister Theresa May holds a press conference at 10 Downing Street, London, to discuss her Brexit plans. Photo: Matt Dunham/PA Wire


Theresa May would not have found herself on the menu had she heeded the advice of Mrs Beeton to "first catch the rabbit" before presuming to present the bill of fare.

And so she was left to sizzle on the spit, having to cope with wholesale resignations and a likely leadership challenge.

Having steered her Brexit deal through a stormy cabinet meeting she had reason to expect better from one of its architects, Dominic Raab. Within hours he would abandon her; by teatime she had lost five ministers.

Jeremy Corbyn described the deal as half-baked; one of the Tory papers went further, describing it as having less life than Monty Python's dead parrot.

Whatever simulated version of reality was unfolding at Westminster seemed to be at odds with the enormity of what was at stake.

Mrs May cut a lonely figure as she was mugged by all sides. It is extremely unlikely she will have the numbers to carry the deal.

Unbridled ambitions are getting in the way of protecting millions of jobs and vital national interests.

The turmoil has massive implications for this country and for the EU. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is learning that "events" have a terrible way of scuppering even best laid plans.

Any sense of consensus evaporated in the hot air of the House of Commons, where the general feeling was the cure Mrs May was offering was far worse than the disease.

MPs lined up to vent their indignation and scorn, as if Mrs May had personally betrayed all their bloated expectations.

Their delusional bubble had been punctured in Brussels months back, but they preferred the big lie they had been sold.

The "we can have our cake and eat it" nonsense, as peddled by Boris Johnson, was bogus from the start.

The reckoning was always going to come home with a resounding shock.

Earlier, European Council president Donald Tusk signalled we were close to a signing off - "unless something extraordinary happens".

The "something" came in the form of Mr Raab's bombshell announcement.

Mrs May has displayed extraordinary dignity, but her appeal for unity is unlikely to be met. The prospects of a no deal are now more immediate. Mrs May has been in office but not in power since her election gamble.

She is now hoping to salvage something from the cinder-heap. But her own future could be amongst the ashes.

As Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable said: "The government started Britain on a journey with no actual idea of its route or its destination."

A crash-out must be avoided, but the omens could not be worse.

The worry is with the UK government in full disintegration mode and the ground crumbling, the wrecking ball we feared Brexit could become may soon have no one at the controls.

Irish Independent

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