Saturday 17 August 2019

Brexit will make or break Leo's legacy


An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

Darragh Clifford - Straight Talking

Hurricane season may be a few weeks away in the USA, but on this side of the Atlantic the first warning has already been issued.

And what a warning it was. No, we are not talking about imminent hurricane-force winds and flash flooding, although in many ways I wish we were. At least you can prepare for a hurricane - you know exactly what you are going to get.

This warning was all to do with the altogether more frightful prospect of Brexit, in particular a No Deal Brexit, which is increasingly becoming the likely scenario come October 31.

Last week the government issued a Brexit planning document, and there was absolutely no sugar coating what was one of the starkest, alarming documents ever penned by an Irish government.

One of the country's leading economists, Professor Gavin Barrett of the Sutherland School of Law in UCD, likened the Brexit document to a hurricane warning, and how right he was.

'A no-deal Brexit will be highly disruptive and will have profound political, economic and legal implications, first and foremost for the UK, including most significantly Northern Ireland, as well as having significant impacts on Ireland and the rest of the EU,' the document states.

And just in case we didn't get the picture, the Government hammered home the point the following day by saying that saying up to 60,000 jobs could be at stake in the event of a No Deal Brexit.

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, in the last leaders questions in the Dáil before summer recess, warned that the impact on our rural economy of the much-maligned Mercosur Trade Deal will pale in insignificance compared to what No Deal will bring.

For Mr Varadkar, we are getting down to the business end of his tenure, and how the next three months play out will go a long way to shaping his legacy as Taoiseach.

It has been a turbulent year for An Taoiseach - the ongoing housing crisis, the National Children's Hospital overspend, the National Broadband Plan fiasco, the Cervical Check scandal have all festered on his watch.

But how he guides this country through the uncharted Brexit waters as the October 31 deadline appears on the horizon will be the making or breaking of Leo Varadkar as Taoiseach.

Unfortunately, it could be the making or breaking of us all, given the seriousness of the situation.

Enniscorthy Guardian