Sunday 17 February 2019

The lunatic Brexit circus goes on with no end – and little logic – in sight


Our View

The demented carnival that is Brexit rolls on with yet more lunacy and infighting in the Tory party.

David Cameron's aim of bringing the doomed Brexit referendum in the first place was to put an end to the interminable Conservative in-fighting - and copper fasten his position as Prime Minister in the process. As such, it must be judged as one of the greatest mistakes in modern political history.

The Tory party - never the most unified of groups - has never looked so divided and those divisions threaten to make Brexit an even greater disaster for the UK and for Europe.

Last Thursday morning, flying in the face of all evidence, the UK's Brexit Minister - surely one of the most undesirable job in world politics - sought to play down the risks of a 'No Deal' Brexit.

He made the comments as his department launched a slew of notices advising businesses and the public how they might guard themselves against any post 'No Deal' issues.

So far so reassuring. The problems began when people started to actually read the notices which pointed out, among many other things, that in the event of a no deal, UK citizens in the EU may have difficulty accessing their pensions; that free circulation of goods would cease; and that EU tariffs on UK goods were viewed as almost inevitable.

Despite their contents, UK Secretary of State Dominic Raab's reassurances on the technical notices actually seemed to do the trick.

And then Chancellor Philip Hammond - a rare beacon of common sense in this Westminster madness - took to the stage to highlight Treasury forecasts that a 'no deal' Brexit would see the UK forced to borrow an astronomical £80 billion, in just the next 10 years, to keep the UK's economy afloat.

He identified a few key sectors that would be most at risk. They were chemicals, food and drink, clothing, manufacturing, cars, and retail which, to most observers, are not just a few key sectors but, in reality, represent the entire economy.

As predicted before the referendum, voters in the north east of Britain, who overwhelming backed 'Leave', will be the worst hit.

As he tried to calm British nerves, Dominic Raab had said he hoped "calmer heads would prevail".

And did they? Well, what do you think?

Once again, faced with overwhelming evidence that their cause is a deranged effort to drive the UK off an economic cliff, the maniacal Brexiteers went on the attack.

With a deal required by October 18 - and already few signs that a compromise can be reached in time - the Tory feud has been reignited, further derailing the process.

The British economic car is now very close to the cliff edge and rather than hitting the brakes, or jumping from the car, the Tories are slamming down the accelerator.

In the face of the madness in Westminster the EU has at least acknowledged that more time may be needed and said it would be willing to give Britain more time.

It very likely won't be enough. The extension would only be for a matter of weeks and, given all that has happened so far, its hard to see the warring Tories coming to their senses so quickly.

Enniscorthy Guardian