Friday 24 May 2019

The latest episode in the shambolic Brexit soap opera comes as no shock


Editorial Comment

Just when we thought there might, finally, be some progress on the Brexit front the Brexiteers have once again seized the wheel and managed to drive a truck though the latest potential break through.

On Friday British Prime Minister Theresa May was celebrating a major political win after she managed, in the face of strenuous opposition, to secure cabinet approval for her Brexit white paper.

While the EU was highly unlikely to accede to the latest set of British 'have cake and eat it' proposals there appeared, at last, to be some political consensus about the realities of Brexit and how it might actually work.

Reassuringly some of the champions of Brexit also seemed to grasp, apparently for the first time, that Britain's EU divorce settlement was going to be tough and would require some major concessions from the British.

Even arch Brexiteer Michael Gove looked to have finally accepted the inevitable as he backed Theresa May's Brexit White Paper, even going so far as to appear on British TV to bat for the Prime Minister and her proposals.

As far as the EU side goes many of the proposals from the White Paper - such as the suggestion that England could remain in the single market for goods but not services - were dismissed out of hand.

However, across Europe there was relief that there may - after months of uncertainty - finally be a basis for proper negotiations and a workable deal.

That was Friday. Within 48 hours - and with the predictability of the tides - the wheels came off the Brexit bandwagon once more.

On Sunday evening Brexit Secretary David Davis, along with his junior minister, quit the cabinet. A day later he was followed out the door of Number 10 by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

The resignations have very quickly turned Theresa May's apparent victory into a potentially devastating political loss.

Now with Brexit just nine months away - and the British negotiating position still entirely unclear - the UK is facing into a summer of political turmoil.

The Conservative Party is now in the midst of a major crisis and as her internal party opponents circle, Theresa May's position is looking more and more vulnerable.

Many might cheer May's downfall but what would follow?

The Brexit negotiations have already been difficult - to put it very mildly -can anyone imagine what they might look like if it were Boris Johnson and his Brexiteer ally Jacob Rees-Mogg were in charge. This is a real threat and one which the Irish Government and our EU partners need to be prepared for.

Boris Johnson and his Brexit allies have all shown they are quite willing to drive their country over a cliff for their own political gain. It's entirely likely they will do so again.

We can all hope that sense might prevail but given all past experience of Brexit that seems a forlorn hope. All we can do now is wait and see who and what emerges from the Tories' latest, destructive, Civil War.

Enniscorthy Guardian